Why is My Dog Limping? Causes, Treatments, & All You Need to Know

Dog limping Causes, treatments & prevention

You probably have seen your beloved dog limping at a certain point, and the real trouble arises when limping does not stop after a few minutes. Dog owners are always concerned about their dog’s health, so any unusual limping can also be worrisome. Like humans, dogs, too, feel the pain but cannot express it through words. This is when they start limping to show their pain and discomfort. This pain or irritation can be a minor injury or something major that stimulates limping.

While it is always important to find out the causes which make your dog limp, it is equally important to ask a vet about your dog’s health. In this blog post, we have enlisted the reasons behind dog limping and what to do to reduce the pain and irritation of your loyal friend.

Types of Limping

There are two types of limping common in dogs, including sudden onset and gradual onset. As the name indicates, sudden onset limps are triggered instantly by any trauma or injury and can take severe form if not consulted with the vet immediately. Gradual onset limps are usually developed over time due to some underlying health condition of your dog, such as arthritis, bone cancer, or hip dysplasia. Whatever type of limping it is, booking an appointment with a professional veterinarian is always suggested to avoid any further complications.

Main Causes Behind Dogs LimpingMain Causes Behind Dogs Limping

As stated earlier, limping in dogs can be caused due to some underlying health conditions of the dog or due to any sudden injury. It may seem easier to categorize the cause that made your dog limp, there are several causes involved behind this condition.

Joint Disease

If a dog suffers from joint disease such as osteoarthritis, elbow dysplasia, or osteochondritis dissecans, it may lead to causing limps. Certain joint infections also result in causing limps, and if your dog is suffering from any of these conditions, the vet refers the joint supplements to overcome the pain.

Paw or Leg Injury

Any sudden injury or trauma, such as any cut that results from scratching through a sharp or nailed object, triggers limping in the dogs. Other reasons behind superficial injuries may include walking on hot pavement, encountering a thorn on the way, or stepping on the nail accidently. It stimulates the extreme burning sensation that leads to limping. Once the dog encounters this type of injury, it starts licking the affected area, which indicates that something painful has happened to your dog.

Deep Injuries

Sometimes, during the high jumps or fast sprints, the dog gets its ligaments torn or accidently fractures its bones. The trauma can also be caused if another animal attacks your dog or its leg gets stuck, or if it thrashes on the ground during a fall. Under such scenarios, the resulting limping condition should be immediately consulted with a vet.

Bone Disease

Certain bone diseases lead to limping in dogs, especially in younger dogs and puppies. The limps, which are caused due to certain conditions such as panosteitis, make it difficult for the dogs to walk. Bone cancer is yet another reason that makes walking or running extremely difficult for dogs and should be treated as soon as possible.

Some other Contributing Causes of Limping in Dogs include:

  • Wounds
  • Muscle pulls or strain
  • Ligaments rupture
  • Bruising
  • Insect or animal bite
  • Broken nail
  • Body Inflammation
  • Infection of joints, bones, or soft tissues
  • Any damage to the nervous system

Dog Limping DiagnosisDog Limping Diagnosis

Although it is easier to see that your dog is limping, it isn’t very easy to tell the actual reason behind it. Maybe it is due to some sudden scratch into its paw or injury on the biceps or shoulders. Other times, telling what makes your canine companion limp longer could be extremely difficult. To know the cause, you must consult a specialized vet who will conduct a few tests to determine the cause.

A thorough physical examination is performed to determine your dog’s pain area. You shouldn’t be doing that at home if you are not properly trained, as any false movement may lead to complicating the case even more. A blood test may be performed to determine if the infection is the cause behind limping. Radiography (X-rays) is carried out to find if there is any broken bone, dysplasia, or any other damage to the body. Biopsies may also be suggested to see if any carcinogenic elements are involved.

You may also be asked a few questions during the diagnosis process, such as:

  • How long has the dog been limping?
  • Does it keep on limping all the time? or just on and off?
  • Have you felt any behavioral changes in your dog during all this time?
  • Have you tried any treatment at home to get over the limping?
  • Can you remember the event or day on which it started limping?

Your answers to these queries will help the vet sort out his entire diagnosis and further treatment process.

Treatments for Dog limpingTreatments for Dog limping

Sometimes, all a dog needs while limping is enough amount of rest and pain relievers. The vet suggests anti-inflammatories such as Etodolac and meloxicam to combat mild and moderate pain. Bandages or physical therapy may be suggested to overcome physical wounds or fractures. In case of moderate joint injury, the vet may recommend Avocado soybean unsaponifiable and Omega-3 fatty acids.

If there is a major reason behind the suffering, your dog may go through advanced diagnostics or some serious treatment plan. If your dog is limping due to certain cancer, he will undergo chemotherapy. Acupuncture, stem cell therapy, cold laser treatment, Hyperbaric oxygen therapy, and therapeutic ultrasound are some of the recommended treatments for a limping dog. The vet will always suggest you the most suitable treatment and medication plan for your pet, so it is always important to cooperate with him.

What Can I do at Home to Help my Limping Dog?

Although it is always suggested to consult a vet if your dog has started limping, there are a few things that you may do at home if there is any mild suffering. Clean the bleeding spot with soap and water if your dog has a wound and starts bleeding. Apply the ointment that suits your dog the best. If any nail or piece of glass is stuck in your dog’s paw pad, carefully clean the spot with fresh water. In the case of a broken nail, the bleeding can be severe. In this case, clean the bleeding with a clean towel and apply corn starch on the nail. It will help in controlling the bleeding. Take out the damaged part of the nail care, but if you cannot remove it, let your vet do the job.

You may take care of any mild swelling or sting at home by applying baking soda to the affected spot. You may also apply an ice pack to your dog’s swelling to provide a soothing treatment. If your dog continuously limps for more than 18 hours, take it to your vet to avoid any major damage.

Bottom Line

Your dog is your most loyal friend, and it is extremely difficult to see it in pain. Dog limping is quite common among dogs who express their pain. If the limping is due to any mild swelling or bruising, you may treat it at home, but if it is followed by yelping, take your dog immediately to the vet. Give it enough rest and massage its body gently for better blood circulation. Always listen to the vet and communicate with him throughout the process so that together you both may take your beloved dog out of the pain.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What should I do if my dog is limping?

If you feel any swelling or limping in your dog’s feet, soak them in warm water containing Epsom salt. Or apply an ice pack to the limped area for better blood circulation.

Can a dog limp heal on its own?

Limping sometimes goes on its own if you apply timely support to your dog. In some cases, limping may indicate a more severe illness.

Why is my dog limping all of a sudden?

This type of limping comes under the category of sudden onset limp and usually results from sudden trauma, spinal injuries, muscle tear, or joint injury due to any sudden fall.

Why is my dog limping but not in pain?

If your dog is limping but not showing any signs of pain, this is because the limp is triggered by some sudden injury or trauma, such as walking on hot pavement or getting cut through any sharp object, etc.

How do I know if my dog limping is serious?

If your dog’s limping is not improving with time but is accompanied by yelping and crying, it means that something serious has happened to your beloved pet and that you should instantly call an emergency vet.

How long does it take for a dog’s limp to heal?

If you follow the vet’s instructions strictly, any sprain or limp takes almost 4 to 6 weeks to heal completely.

How do vets treat a limp?

A vet may prescribe any pain reliever and anti-inflammatories depending upon the type of limping in the dog. In serious cases, rehabilitation or surgery may be suggested.

Should you massage a limping dog?

Yes, massaging helps greatly in improving blood circulation. If you gently rub your dog’s body, it will prevent any muscle stiffness and reduce inflammation.

Is it OK to walk with a limp?

If your dog is limping but still walking, it may lead to severe complications like muscle damage, balance issues, etc. So make sure to give your enough rest to your dog if it is limping so it gets healed sooner.

What are the types of limping?

Limping is of two types, i.e., Sudden onset limp and gradual onset limp.

Which signs indicate that your dog needs a sudden emergency visit to a vet in case of limping?

If your dog shows signs of swelling, or dislocation at any joint, or hot limb, it indicates that your pet needs an emergency vet visit.

My dog is limping on the back leg – what does it mean?

If your dog has started limping on its back leg, it should suffer any condition, including hip dysplasia, Achilles Tendon tear, iliopsoas muscle injury, or cruciate injury.

My dog is limping on the front leg – what does it mean?

Limping on the front leg indicates that your dog suffers from a shoulder injury, elbow dysplasia, or any injury on the biceps region.

Can I provide any human pain relief to my dog?

No, you should never give any human-prescribed pain reliever to your limping dog, as these might become fatal for your pet.

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