Why Is My Dog Limping?

Just like humans, dogs would limp for different reasons. Nevertheless, dogs can’t tell us where it hurts or what happened. Pet owners can only struggle to figure it out by themselves. Your veterinarian is the most reliable resource for diagnosing your dog’s disease. Before visit your veterinarian, you may want to know a little bit about the common cause of limping in dogs.

common causes of dog limping
Gradual Onset vs. Sudden Limping

Knowing the difference between the two, it would help your veterinarian narrow down the possible causes of your dog’s limp and help you get to know whether your dog’s limp is an emergency.
Gradual Onset: It is commonly caused by an underlying, chronic or degenerative condition, such as osteoarthritis or dysplasia, and happens slowly over time.
Sudden Limping: This type is usually caused by an injury or trauma and happens quickly!

When to Call the Vet

Dislocated joints or broken bones require immediate care. And nerve damage would be a more severe neurological condition or spinal injury.
If your dog shows any of the following signs of an emergency, you need to get your dog to your veterinarian or veterinary emergency room.

  • Dislocated joints
  • Hot limb
  • Swelling
  • Obvious break or unnatural angle

limping dog with arthritis
Common Causes of Limping in Dogs

From chronic conditions to trauma, lameness in dogs is a common symptom and there is a wide range of possible causes. We can break down these causes into a few categories.

Paw Injury

Foreign bodies, like glass, nails, sticks, plant matte or anything else should not be in your dog’s paw. They make it uncomfortable to walk and can lead to infection. Insect and animal stings or bites can also cause tenderness and limping, as can lacerations, broken toenails, burns, frostbite, and bruising. When your dog keep on licking his paw, this is a sign that your dog may have something stuck in his paw.

Joint Disease

Causing gradual wear and tear on joints and the musculoskeletal system, some conditions would lead to limping. Osteoarthritis, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, ligament disease, patellar luxation, intervertebral disk disease, and OCD all can cause limping on any of the affected limbs.
If you dog is diagnosed with arthritis or dysplasia, your veterinarian will recommend joint supplement of glucosamine and chondroitin. Safe for long-term use, joint supplements are usually used as a preventive care and throughout the progression of osteoarthritis.

small dogs limping with joint problems
Bone Disease

Some diseases affect the bones in your dog’s legs. Younger dogs, especially large breeds puppies can develop conditions such as panosteitis, osteodystrophy and hypertrophic. These make walking painful.

Injury or Trauma

The most obvious causes of limping in dogs would be injuries and trauma. Dogs are facing with many types of injuries the same as we are, from car accidents to sports injuries.
Broken bones, sprains, fractures, dislocations, ligament tears, and spinal injuries can cause limping to on different levels. If your dog becomes acutely lame, especially if he is a puppy, wait for about 15 minutes and try to pacify your dog. Your puppy is just like children and will yelp for around five minutes. Then you may find them acting normal after that time and make an appointment to the emergency room.
However, if they are still lame after 15 minutes, you should take your doggie to your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Diagnosing a Limping Dog

Sometimes the cause of your dog’s limp is clear, like a piece of glass in a paw pad or a broken bone, while there are also some subtle causes leading to lameness. First of all, your veterinarian will perform a physical examination of your dog to test for tenderness, pain, and range of motion in the limbs. Then your veterinarian may have to run some tests to determine the cause of your dog’s limp. Radiographs can help identify a broken bone, joint disease and other skeletal abnormalities. Biopsies and joint fluid collection can help identify cancer and other possible causes. The blood testing for infectious diseases may also be necessary.

why is my dog limping
Treating a Limping Dog

The treatment for your dog’s lameness varies and depends on the cause. It could be as simple as a few days of rest, or it may need surgery. Remember that in the vast majority of cases, the sooner you get your dog to visit your veterinarian, the better the prognosis. Furthermore, try to keep your dog as calm as possible and prevent the lameness from getting worse. For more questions about your dog’s limp, contact your veterinarian and make an appointment.
Note: Always consult your veterinarian! Never give any over-the-counter or prescription human pain-relief medication to dogs! This can be toxic or fatal!

Photo Credits: Doggy Brace | The Balanced Dog | Pet’s Are Kids Too