My Dog Keeps Sitting Down Abruptly! [6 Alarming Reasons]

My dog keeps sitting down abruptly
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Stop me if this sounds familiar.

Your dog walks in the room, happy-go-lucky with his steps in the way only he knows how.

Tail wagging, he bounces to greet every member of his beloved family, when suddenly- his head snaps back to his rear, does a little jitter, and suddenly sits himself down.

He looks at you, seemingly as confused as you are. After a moment, he stands up and begins walking again.

Not a half minute passes, when splooch! Butt on the ground, once more.

Alarmed, you ponder, “My dog keeps sitting down abruptly! Why?!”

There are a few possible reasons why your dog is sitting down rapidly, out-of-the-blue.

Most of these involve some level of discomfort being experienced by your dog, such as pain and itching from being infested by worms or fleas. Some specific flea medications themselves have been known to cause this reaction in dogs.

Another commonly-seen issue that may cause a dog to sit down suddenly and without warning is if their anal glands are swollen. While this sounds like a complicated (and frankly, unpleasant) condition, it is actually quite easy to solve once you know how.

A more serious possibility that could lead to a dog sitting down abruptly is if it has nerve or joint issues, causing areas of the body to become weak. A vet will be able to properly diagnose and treat these causes accordingly.

Finally, if your dog sits down all of a sudden during walks and refuses to go any further, this could be due to exercise intolerance or laziness.

While the former needs to be professionally treated, there are effective ways to discourage the latter and train your dog to walk properly again, one step at a time.

Possible Reason Number 1: There May Be Something Irritating Your Dog’s Rear End

If you haven’t taken a close look at your dog’s rear end yet, now’s the time to check. This could be the simplest issue that is affecting your pet and making it sit abruptly.

Many dogs will react sharply when there’s something on their body that’s not meant to be there. If there is a stick, small rock, or other debris such as its own poop that is caught in the fur around its butt, your dog may be feeling irritated by it and sitting down quickly as a result.

If your dog has just come back from the groomer’s, it could be that the groomer cut the hair around the butt too short. Your dog may not like the new sensation, or it may be irritating and sore to the touch.

Make sure to check also whether there are any cuts or other injuries in the area that could be causing your dog pain.

Solution:

Check the area for any debris that might be stuck there- and if there is, remove it thoroughly.

If the area is looking sore and itchy after a visit to the grooming parlor, apply a soothing solution such as aloe.

In cases where there are little cuts or scratches, go to our extensive resource here on how to treat these kinds of minor injuries.

Possible Reason Number 2: Worms And Fleas

Flea illustration
Hopefully the flea isn’t this big

If your dog hasn’t been wormed or checked for fleas recently, it could be the reason behind (pun fully intended) an itchy bum. In an attempt to scratch a persistent itch or sudden flea bite, it may be that a dog keeps sitting down, interrupting its previous action.

Other signs that are commonly observed with flea infestations include constant scratching and biting of areas of coat and fur. In cases involving worms, dogs will often do the infamous ‘scoot’ to try to get rid of the parasites.

Dogs can easily pick up fleas from the environment, whether outdoors or around the home. They can also be transmitted by other animals that your dog has been in contact with recently.

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Parasites such as roundworms and hookworms are commonly picked up when your dog scavenges outside and eats a dead rat or animal droppings.

If your dog has worms, they can often be spotted in the feces and around the anus- so if your dog’s butt seems itchy, well, it’s time to take a good look!

Solution:

Fleas and worms are one of the most common problems that dogs can have, and luckily they’re also one of the easiest to solve.

To get rid of fleas:

  1. Using warm water and mild soap, give your dog a bath. While specially-formulated flea shampoo might be useful, it can also be irritating if your dog has sensitive skin- so consult your vet first. Your dog may also have sensitive eyes so getting the appropriate flea shampoo may prevent an allergic reaction on the off-chance that it gets into their eyes.
  2. Use a fine-tooth flea comb and run it through your dog’s hair. Make sure to look for black specks of ‘flea dirt’, especially around the head and neck area.
  3. If you catch a flea in the comb, submerge it into a bowl of hot, soapy water. This will kill it quickly and effectively.
  4. Give your dog flea pills, a collar, or spot treatments. These options will give your dog long-lasting protection against fleas and ticks, usually for 30 days or more.

To get rid of worms:

Parasites such as roundworms, tapeworms and hookworms can usually be treated effectively with the use of deworming medication.

Once your dog is examined by the vet, he can then recommend the most suitable deworming solutions for your dog, as well as preventative options so that your dog doesn’t run into these issues again in the future.

Possible Reason Number 3: Allergic Reaction To Flea And Tick Treatments

Talk about a double-edged sword.

While flea and tick treatments are very effective in getting rid of the pesky insects, sometimes they can be too effective.

Formulations in some of the newer and more modern medications are very powerful chemically, designed specifically to combat the resistance that fleas and ticks have developed against first-generation drugs.

They are so strong that they can have a negative, irritating effect on your dog. As an example, one of the most complained-about flea medications is a product called Vectra 3D.

Vectra 3D
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If your dog started sitting down abruptly after you recently used Vectra 3D or another new flea treatment, it is possible that the chemicals contained within are the culprit.

Two of the most common known side effects of Vectra 3D are:

  • Chemical burns (!) on the skin at the application site
  • Extreme jitteriness and restlessness, similar to anxiety or manic behavior.

Other less serious side effects include lethargy, heavy panting, fast pulse, skin that is hot to the touch, diarrhea and vomiting.

Other owners have noted that their dog also exhibited extreme itching, frantic behavior, and paranoia as if there were bugs everywhere on their body after Vectra 3D was applied. Smaller dogs under 25 pounds may be more at risk for these unpleasant reactions.

The jitteriness, restlessness and paranoia brought on by the chemicals inside Vectra 3D (and similar treatments) may be what is causing your dog to sit down at sudden, random times.

Solution

If only 3 to 4 hours have elapsed since you applied the Vectra 3D flea treatment, you may be able to alleviate the issues completely by giving your dog a bath. However, your average bubble bath won’t do in this situation.

The secret ingredient? 

Dawn (or similar) dishwashing detergent.

Dawn dishwashing soap
This image is an affiliate link to Amazon

After lathering and rinsing up to three times, the dishwashing soap will effectively remove any excess oil that is on your dog’s skin. This will do wonders for relieving the symptoms and itchiness that it has been experiencing.

If over 4 hours have passed, much of the ointment will have already been absorbed into the skin. A bath will no longer be as effective even with dishwashing soap, but it can still provide some minor relief.

Giving your dog antihistamines such as Claritin will help to minimize allergy symptoms such as itchiness and restlessness. Benadryl will work too, but may make your dog drowsy; Claritin has been shown to be non-drowsy in dogs.

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The proper dosage of Claritin is 5mg for every 30 pounds of body weight, daily. Continue giving your dog the medication until the symptoms have subsided, and whatever you do- don’t apply Vectra 3D to your pup ever again!

Possible Reason Number 4: Swollen Anal Glands

This one sounds more serious and difficult to treat than it actually is.

Do you know why dogs love to sniff each other’s butts?

It’s because of these very anal glands.

Anal glands or sacs are carriers of scent that are located within the muscles around a dog’s rectum. When they are working properly, they naturally express each time the dog poops, leaving a ‘scent signal’ for other dogs that pass by.

Dog from behind, anal glands indicated
Red circles indicate where a dog’s anal glands are located.

However, the glands can become impacted when the secretions aren’t able to be released naturally for whatever reason. Impacted glands have a higher chance of becoming infected, which will then become abscessed if they are not treated.

Abscessed glands will rupture through the skin, and may require subsequent surgery, antibiotics and pain medication to treat.

One of the most common signs of swollen anal glands is if your dog suddenly sits down out of nowhere and begins ‘scooting’.

Other signs could include:

  • Licking their rectum excessively
  • A bump or swollen area next to the rectum
  • Straining or difficulty when trying to poop
  • Bloody or pus-filled stool
  • Blood or pus discharge in places where they have recently been

Solution:

You may or may not be pleased to learn this, but you can express your dog’s anal glands yourself!

On the one hand, it will save you money on otherwise expensive groomer or vet bills.

On the other hand- WARNING! Things are about to get a bit smelly and messy…

Unlike the professional groomer in the video, you’re probably not as experienced in this aspect of canine care- so remember to wear gloves and have cleanup products on hand!

While manual expression of anal glands is effective, it shouldn’t be done too frequently. Expressing the glands more than necessary could potentially cause inflammation and create scar tissue, which will further narrow the already-constricted duct.

Prevention may be the best course of action when it comes to impacted anal sacs. Keeping your dog a healthy weight, feeding them fiber-rich foods, and supplementing omega 3 fatty acids can go a long way in protecting it from anal gland issues in the future.

Possible Reason Number 5: Nerve And Joint Issues

Does the way in which the dog in the above video sits remind you of your own?

If so, it could be a deeper structural issue that is causing your dog to sit down so sharply. The dog above was found to have hurt part of its vertebrae, causing it to walk with a pronounced rounding and dip of the lower back, as well as experiencing profound unsteadiness when it sits.

Nerve impingements can result in involuntary sitting as the dog’s leg and butt ‘gives way’.

Depending on what part of the spine is damaged, it can cause a reflexive response in certain limbs, making them weak, and altering the way they move.

Joint health can also play a big role in the biomechanical movement of your dog.

If your dog is older or suffers from arthritis in its hips or legs, this can cause it to be unwilling or unable to walk or stand for long periods of time. A seated position may provide more relief from pain, so you might find your dog suddenly sitting down a lot.

If you notice that your dog isn’t as mobile as it once was, seems unwilling to run and jump, or has signs of gingerness- it might be suffering from joint issues.

Solution:

Joint and nerve problems need to be professionally assessed and treated. Only a properly trained vet will be able to give a full orthopaedic exam to determine how well the limbs, joints, neck and spine are functioning.

He will be able to find out whether there is a pain response, or if there is any resistance or stiffness present where there shouldn’t be. They will then be able to prescribe proper treatment, whether that be short-term anti-inflammatory medication or surgery.

For general maintenance of joints, bone, and skin in dogs of all ages, I truly cannot think of a better supplement than collagen. It’s backed by multiple scientific studies, is more effective than glucosamine or chondroitin, and has ZERO side effects.

For a Complete Guide on Collagen for Dogs, its numerous benefits and a handy quantity calculator, click HERE!

Possible Reason Number 6: Exercise Intolerance Or Unwillingness

Malamute dog on leash refusing to walk

Finally, exercise intolerance is another possibility as to why your dog sits down abruptly- especially if it is doing so on walks. There could be a few different causes for this:

  • It’s tired: Your dog has simply run out of steam. This may be due to lack of fitness from not getting enough regular exercise, or it may be overweight from eating too much food.
  • It’s sick: Your dog may have an underlying illness such as heart disease or neurological dysfunction that is making it unable to walk for even moderate periods of time.
  • It’s injured: This could be a sign that immediate attention is required. When dogs lie down suddenly on walks, it could be that it has a pulled muscle, sprained ankle, or cut paw.
  • It’s (feeling) lazy: Yes, there will be times when even your hyperactive dog feels lazy too! Different breeds will have different energy levels. For example, border collies are renowned for having endless vitality, while bulldogs probably won’t be able to keep up for very long.
  • It got distracted: What’s that smell? Hi, friend! Wow, that tree looks ni- SQUIRREL!” That’s only a tiny snippet of what is going through your dog’s head at any moment during a walk. Generally, dogs have short attention spans and will get distracted on outings.
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Solution:

If your dog is sick, tired, or injured, you need to get those issues resolved before expecting it to walk without stopping. Though it does not possess the ability to speak, your dog is trying to communicate to you through its actions.

If it’s something that you can resolve at home such as a minor cut or sprain, treat it as well as you can and then let your dog recover. If you can’t detect anything wrong visually, then it’s time to take a trip to the vet’s office so that professional advice can be sought.

The most important factor is to make sure that your dog gets plenty of opportunity to rest.

If the vet diagnoses your dog with a case of the ‘lazies’, there are methods that you can use to encourage it to keep pace with you on walks.

One of the most effective is to have a treat bag on hand to keep your dog walking, as well as to prevent them from suddenly stopping in their tracks due to whatever new distraction has caught their eye (or nose).

In Summary

There can be many different possible reasons as to why your dog keeps sitting down suddenly, whether at home or out on walks.

These can include:

  • Having something stuck to the fur on their backside,
  • Being bitten or infested by fleas and worms,
  • Having allergic reactions to particular flea treatments,
  • Having swollen anal glands,
  • Being affected by joint or nerve issues; and
  • Being exercise intolerant, either due to illness or laziness.

While the problems vary in their severity, luckily most have solutions that can either be implemented by yourself, or carried out by a vet. Therefore, even though it may be worrying to see your dog afflicted by this symptom, rest assured that the right answers can be found.

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