Dog Limping - It's Cause, Treatment And Prevention

Limping in dogs is frequent, yet it should never be dismissed as ordinary; instead, it often indicates underlying illness or injury. A dog exhibiting lameness suggests an abnormal gait on one or more limbs, which can stem from discomfort, reduced mobility, or a combination of both. Addressing the issue promptly is crucial when your dog is limping, with the urgency of action dictated by the extent of the lameness. Here's essential information to guide you if your canine companion is experiencing limping.

Causes Of Limping In Dogs

Limping in dogs typically arises from either an injury or an illness, signaling potential discomfort for your furry friend. However, it's worth noting that dogs may also experience difficulty moving, usually even without pain. The causes of limping in dogs vary widely, encompassing a range of potential factors.

  • Cut on paw or foot
  • Arthritis
  • Torn toenail
  • Patellar luxation (affects one or both knees)
  • Intervertebral disc disease ( herniated disc or slipped disc)
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Hip dysplasia
  • A foreign object stuck in a paw or foot
  • Cruciate injury (affects one or both knees)
  • Degenerative Myelopathy
  • Tick-borne
  • Cancer
  • Dislocation, luxation, or subluxation of a joint
  • Bite from an animal or insect.
  • Infection (may be internal or external)
  • Immune-Mediated Polyarthritis
  • Other muscle, nerve, immune system disorders or bone
  • Fracture (broken bone)
  • Sprain, strain, torn ligament or tendon 1

What To Do If the Dog Is Limping

Dog limping typically doesn't qualify as an immediate emergency; however, severe lameness warrants prompt attention from a veterinarian. When you notice your dog limping, conducting a preliminary assessment is crucial.

Observing the nature of your dog's limp can provide valuable clues for your veterinarian to formulate a diagnosis. Take note of any observable abnormalities. Sometimes, the dog may bear weight on all limbs while displaying an irregular, overt, or subtle gait. Alternatively, the dog might refrain from putting any weight on the affected limb altogether, potentially resorting to dragging it along. Limping and lameness can vary in consistency, appearing intermittently or persisting continuously depending on the circumstances.

If you've determined that your dog's limping isn't an immediate emergency, there are several steps you can take to offer initial assistance. Although a visit to the vet is likely necessary, you can gather additional information in the meantime. If your dog permits, closely examine the affected limb:

  • Inspect the foot and leg, checking for signs such as cuts, bruises, swelling, warmth, tenderness, instability, or other unusual indications.
  • Examine the paw pad and spaces between the toes for potential wounds or foreign objects lodged in the area.
  • Assess the condition of the toenails, ensuring there are no tears or other nail-related issues.
  • Carefully manipulate the joints to detect any tenderness or stiffness. Any grinding sensations or sounds in the joints may suggest the presence of arthritis.

Treatment for Dog Limping

Treating a dog limping depends on identifying its underlying cause. Your veterinarian will delve into your dog's medical history, inquiring about the duration of the limping and any preceding injuries witnessed. It's imperative to furnish your vet with comprehensive information regarding your dog's limping and medical background. Recording a video can aid your vet's assessment if the limping is sporadic or presents with other abnormal gait patterns.

Conducting a thorough physical examination, your vet will scrutinize your dog's entire physique to pinpoint the source of lameness and screen for any concurrent health issues. X-rays often become indispensable for detecting fractures and other limb irregularities, sometimes necessitating sedation for optimal imaging. Additionally, your vet might propose laboratory tests to evaluate organ function and blood cell counts.

Treatment modalities vary, encompassing:

  • Rest and confinement
  • Administration of pain medication, including anti-inflammatory drugs like carprofen
  • Implementation of physical therapy
  • Utilization of acupuncture
  • Surgical intervention

Follow up regularly with your vet to monitor your dog's limping progress. Avoid waiting until the situation escalates. Your vet must reassess the treatment regimen if the limping persists or exacerbates. In cases of significant concern or unresolved limping, your vet may recommend advanced diagnostics or seek a second opinion from a veterinary specialist.

Prevent Limping in Dogs

While it's challenging to prevent limping in dogs, implementing certain precautions ultimately can help minimize the risk of injuries and illnesses:

  1. Moderate exercise: Avoid overexerting your dog during physical activities to reduce the likelihood of strains and sprains.
  2. Supervised roaming: When allowing your dog off-leash, ensure constant supervision to prevent potential accidents or injuries.
  3. Paw protection: Shield your dog's paws from hot pavement and ice-melting products by using protective booties or limiting exposure during extreme weather conditions.
  4. Regular vet visits: Schedule annual or biannual checkups with your veterinarian. They can detect underlying issues before they escalate and impact your dog's well-being.
  5. Senior dog care: For older dogs, consider screening for arthritis to detect and manage the condition early, promoting better mobility and comfort in their senior years. 

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

Best Selling Combo

Best Selling Combo

Heartgard Nexgard Combo for Dogs Flea, Ticks & Heartworm Treatment