dog limping

Key takeaway

A limping dog may be a sign that your dog has an injury, but dogs may also limp as a result of a chronic disease or a neurological issue. Visiting a vet for a proper diagnosis is an important first step to getting your dog to stop limping. If your dog is limping, your treatment options depend on the cause, so your vet can provide more detailed information.

If you’ve noticed that your dog is limping lately, you might be worried about a potential injury or medical condition they may have. Limping is also commonly referred to as lameness in dogs, which is an inability to use one or more limbs. Dogs often limp because they’re not able to put their full weight on one of their legs, whether that’s due to pain or a stability issue. This can make things like getting around and going to the bathroom difficult.

You may be wondering, why is my dog limping? The truth is, there are lots of things that can cause a dog to limp. It could be that your dog is getting older  and is developing a joint disease, or your dog may have gotten injured. The only way to get a proper diagnosis is to take your dog to the vet so they can perform diagnostic tests to determine the cause of the limping.

When your dog is limping, it’s important to get a diagnosis as soon as possible. While your dog may be limping as a result of a minor injury, it could also be developing a long-term health problem that you need to address before it gets worse. Treatment for limping depends on what’s causing it, which is another reason why it’s so important to get a professional diagnosis.

From limping to dog skin allergies, understanding what may be wrong with your dog is an important part of keeping them healthy. Here’s what you need to know if your dog is limping.

What Causes Dogs To Limp?

There are two main categories of limp: sudden onset and gradual onset. Sudden limping generally occurs following an injury, while gradual onset limping may be a sign of illness or disease. Understanding whether your dog developed a limp seemingly overnight instead of over the course of weeks or months can help your vet properly diagnose their needs.

There are many reasons your dog may have developed a limp. If you’re wondering why my dog is limping all of a sudden, these are some of the most common reasons:

Injury or Trauma

It’s not uncommon for dogs to get hurt, especially if your dog is particularly active. Your dog may hurt itself by stepping on something that injures its paw, falling down a bank or hill, or getting into a fight with a dog or another animal. It doesn’t take much of a leg injury to leave your dog limping, so it’s a good idea to check for any noticeable injuries if you notice your dog limping.

The good news when it comes to leg injuries in dogs is that they’re often minor. If your dog stepped on something sharp or had its leg scratched or bitten in a fight, that injury will likely recover in a short time period. However, it’s a good idea to take your dog to the vet if they have an injury to make sure it’s nothing serious and prevent infection.

Degenerative joint disease

Injuries are a common cause of limping in dogs but sometimes dogs limp as a result of a chronic condition. Degenerative joint disease can cause pain and make it difficult for your dog to get around, which can cause them to limp when they walk. Joint disease is more common in older dogs, so it’s important to keep an eye on your dog’s health as it ages.

Degenerative joint disease can be treated with low-impact exercises and medication. The main idea is to relieve inflammation and reduce pain so your dog can live comfortably. If you think your dog may be suffering from degenerative joint disease, you should get them checked out by a vet and figure out what the best treatment option is.

Canine Arthritis

Like humans, dogs tend to develop certain conditions as they get older. One condition that’s common in older dogs is canine arthritis. Just like arthritis in humans, canine arthritis leads to pain and inflammation that can affect various parts of your dog’s body. This arthritis may be the reason your dog is limping, especially if your dog is older and is experiencing other symptoms of canine arthritis.

The good news about canine arthritis is that there are ways to treat it. While arthritis can’t be cured, it can be managed with changes in diet, supplements, and medication. Talk to your vet to learn more about canine arthritis and how you can help your dog manage it.

Bone Disease

In some cases, your dog may be limping as a result of bone disease. Bone diseases in dogs include bone cancer and limb deformities, among other conditions. The truth is, bone disease isn’t a particularly common cause of limping in dogs, but it is a very serious condition. If your dog is exhibiting any symptoms that may be a sign of bone disease, you should take them to a vet to rule out any serious medical issues.

If your dog has bone disease, you may notice swelling in the limbs.  You may also notice that your dog is in pain, and that they may have a fever. Loss of appetite is another common symptom that presents in dogs with bone disease, so take your dog to the vet if they won’t eat anything and are limping.

Orthopedic problems

Sometimes the answer to the question, “Why is my dog limping?” lies in the musculoskeletal system. Just like humans, there are lots of disorders that can affect the way your dog walks and the way its body moves. Some of the orthopedic problems that dogs may experience include hip dysplasia, torn cruciate ligaments, patellar luxations, and disc problems. All of these issues can affect the way your dog walks and cause pain while walking.

The key to treating orthopedic problems is getting a proper diagnosis from your vet. Your vet is the only person who can reliably tell you whether your dog is limping as a result of a medical condition or a minor injury. Plus, your vet can prescribe medication and other treatments if your dog is limping, so you can start treating the problem right away.

Paw issues

Dogs put a lot of stress on their paws throughout the day, from digging around in the yard to walking on rocks and other tough terrain. While dogs’ paws are pretty tough, they can still get injured. Your dog may have stepped on a sharp rock, or there may be a thorn lodged in its paw. It could even be that your dog has some medical condition that’s leading to paw pain.

The good news about paw problems is that they’re often fairly simple to fix. If your dog is limping because it has a thorn or a cut in its paw, that limping should go away when the injury is healed. Please consult your vet if the limping  persists for more than 24 hours, as this may be a sign of a more serious injury.

Neurological issues

Your dog may be limping as a result of a neurological issue. Neurological issues can affect your dog’s motor skills, making it difficult for your dog to walk or use its limbs properly in general. These neurological disorders may be caused by several things, but they may be the reason your dog is limping.

Like most medical conditions, the best way to handle a neurological disorder is to take your dog to the vet. Your vet can provide a detailed diagnosis and recommend the best treatment for your dog, which may include medication or surgery.

owner holding dog’s face

Diagnosing the Causes Behind Your Dog’s Limp

One of the hardest parts of being a dog owner is figuring out what’s wrong with your dog. A limping dog is easy enough to spot, but why is my dog limping all of a sudden? The most important thing you can do if you’ve noticed a limp in your dog is to take them to the vet.There are several things your vet may do to figure out why your dog is limping.

Typically, your vet will start by performing a physical examination of your dog. During this exam, your vet will look for any obvious signs of injury or certain medical conditions that could be causing your dog to limp. This physical examination can also give your vet more information about what kinds of tests to run on your dog, which is the next step in the process.

If your dog doesn’t have an obvious injury to a leg or paw that’s causing a limp, your vet may want to perform a comprehensive exam to figure out what’s going on. This comprehensive exam may include X-rays, bloodwork, ultrasound,  and tissue biopsies. The goal is to rule out any serious medical conditions and to figure out what’s causing your dog’s limp so you can start treating it.

X-rays help your vet spot bone disease and potential breaks and fractures your dog may have suffered, while tissue biopsies can help rule out diseases such as cancer. Bloodwork and performing an ultrasound also allows vets to get a good look at the overall health of your dog to determine if there are any underlying conditions you don’t know about. It’s important to have this testing done if your dog is limping and you’re not sure why.

When you take your dog to the vet for a limp, it’s important to provide the vet with as much information as possible to help them make an accurate diagnosis. For example, you should mention any incidents in which your dog may have been injured, or anything your dog could have gotten into around the house that could be causing problems. The more information you can provide to your vet, the easier it will be for them to diagnose your dog.

Treating Your Dog’s Limp

Just like it’s important to choose the right anxiety medicine for dogs, it’s important to choose the right treatment if your dog is limping. The first step to treating a limping dog is figuring out what’s causing the limp in the first place, which means a trip to the vet. From there, there are a handful of common treatment options that can help you get your dog healthy again.

If your dog is limping as a result of an injury, treating that limp is as simple as treating the injury. Minor injuries can typically be treated by simply allowing your dog to rest for a while, which gives the leg time to heal up. This may be an appropriate treatment option for minor leg injuries, as well as thorns and minor cuts in your dog’s paws. Before you decide to let your dog rest to heal its leg injury, it’s important to consult a vet to make sure you’re not dealing with a serious injury that requires professional help.

Getting your dog to rest can be tough, so make sure you talk to your vet for tips. You may even want to consider asking about medication that can help calm your dog down, so they’re more willing to lounge around and rest while their injury heals.

In the event that the limping is caused by a disease or medical condition, the key is getting your dog the medication it needs to fight that condition. Your vet can prescribe medication that can help relieve the symptoms of canine arthritis, bone disease,  and other medical issues. If one of these issues is causing your dog to limp, this may relieve your dog’s limp as well. It’s important to keep in mind that most medications come with certain side effects, so you should talk to a vet before you decide to give your dog any medication or supplement.

Sometimes rest and medication aren’t enough to get the job done, which is when you may need to consider surgery as a treatment option if your dog is limping. Surgery may be required if your dog suffered a serious injury, such as a fracture.. Surgery may also be required to remove a bone tumor or to correct another medical issue your dog may have. Ultimately, it’s up to your vet to decide if your dog needs surgery.

My Dog is Limping: Frequently Asked Questions

Review some of our most frequently asked questions below to learn more about taking care of your pooch if they’ve developed a limp.

When should I take my dog to the vet for limping?

If you notice your dog is limping all of a sudden, it’s important to consider what may have caused the limp. It could be that your dog got injured by stepping on something while running around your property, or it may have gotten into a fight with another animal. If your dog has a limp and there are visible signs of an injury, you should take them to the vet right away.

It’s also important to consider your dog’s age and medical history when it comes to diagnosing a limp. Diseases such as canine arthritis and bone cancer are more common in older dogs, so there’s a higher chance your dog could be dealing with one of those conditions if they’re older.

Ultimately, you should take your dog to the vet for any limp that persists for several days, especially if it doesn’t get better with rest.

What should I do if my dog is limping?

If your dog is limping, the best thing you can do is try to get them to rest. Make sure your dog has a comfortable area where they can relax, and bring their food and water bowls close by so they don’t have to go far if they need to eat or drink. The less time your dog spends walking on the leg it’s limping on, the better off it will be.

You should also call your vet to schedule an examination if you notice your dog limping. Limping that is caused by diseases or serious injuries don’t go away without medical intervention, so it’s important to see a vet to rule out any serious problems.

Can a dog recover from limping?

The good news about limping is that dogs can generally recover from limping with the right treatment. Of course, this depends on the cause of the limp. If your dog is limping as a result of an injury, their limp should go away when the injury is healed. If your dog is limping as a result of a disease or another medical condition, getting rid of their limp is a matter of treating the underlying condition.

In rare cases, your dog may have a chronic issue that leads to a limp that persists. This is why it’s important to get a proper diagnosis from a vet to make sure you choose the best treatment option.

Why is my dog limping but not crying?

Limping is a sign of pain in dogs. Some injuries cause more pain than others. Signs of severe pain may include limping along with crying or whining. Whether your dog is crying while it limps or not, you should take them to a vet to figure out exactly what’s wrong. Treating a limp starts with getting a professional diagnosis, so don’t assume your dog is injured just because it’s limping.

Final Notes

If you want to take good care of your dog, you need to know what to do when you notice your dog is limping. The good news is, your vet can help you figure out what’s causing your dog to limp and what the best treatment is. In many cases, your dog will stop limping over time with proper treatment, whether that means rest, medication, or surgery.

Going to the vet can be a hassle, but you don’t have to worry about dealing with that hassle to take care of your dog thanks to telemedicine for pets. With Dutch, you can connect with vets online to get a professional diagnosis and a prescribed treatment. Dutch even allows you to get subscription medication sent to your doorstep, so you don’t have to leave your home to get your dog the care they need.

References

  1. “Why is my dog limping?”. American Kennel Club, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/why-is-my-dog-limping/

  2. “Lameness in Dogs, Joseph Harari, Merck Manual Veterinary Manual, https://www.merckvetmanual.com/dog-owners/bone,-joint,-and-muscle-disorders-of-dogs/lameness-in-dogs