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Why is My Dog Limping?

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Why is my Dog Limping?

Dog Limping on Front Leg

There are various leg injuries that a dog can get that cause them to limp. Some may slowly develop over time and others may appear suddenly. In any case, if you spot that your dog won’t put weight on his front leg and is limping you may need to diagnose where the injury is coming from and seek medical attention.

Front leg injuries in dogs can range in severity so leaving them undiagnosed is not recommended. Untreated dog injuries can lead to further problems down the line.

Symptoms of Front Leg Injury in Dogs

If your dog is limping on his front leg it is advised to verify the reasons for the limp so that it can be treated correctly. In many cases there will be no external signs as to what is causing your dog to limp, but it is important to do a physical check to rule out certain diagnoses. 

  • Swelling or physical injury – Visually inspect your dogs the leg and shoulder for any signs of swelling. If your dogs limping appeared suddenly it is also important to check if there are any puncture marks or bloody wounds.
  • Muscular pain – take notice if your dog is in pain. Limping often indicates that your dog is in some sort of pain or discomfort. But as there are many reasons that your dog might be limping, it could be a case that your dog is not in pain and just incapable of moving normally. 
  • Bruising – Check if there is any bruising. Bruising is not always visible and usually needs a vet to do the appropriate tests.

Types of Front Leg Injuries in Dogs

As mentioned, there are many injuries that can cause your dog to limp. These injuries have a wide range of severity. It could be something minor like your dog getting stung by a bee on the paw. I could also be more serious like a broken bone, or your dog could be showing signs of arthritis

The most common leg injuries in dogs that cause limping include:

  • Fractures
  • Torn Ligaments
  • Dislocated Joints
  • Elbow Dysplasia
  • Infection
  • Arthritis

Dog Limping on Back Leg

Your dog limping on its back leg will be much more subtle and harder to spot than a front leg injury. Although a limp may not be as noticeable, there are a few signs to look out for if you suspect your dog has a back leg injury. These include:

  • Tail rising as the injured leg contacts the ground
  • Hip on the affected side may seem lower than usual

Dog is Limping but Not in Pain

It can be difficult to judge the severity of your dog’s pain. It is rare for a dog to limp if it is not in any physical discomfort or pain.

If your dog is limping but not showing signs of pain it is always worth contacting your vet for advice. Dogs can’t tell you that they are in pain but they are also very good at hiding it from their owners.

Why is my Dog Limping after Sleep?

It is common for older dogs to be stiff and limping after sleep or rest. In this case, you may notice that after a few minutes the limping subsides. 

This may also be a sign of arthritis. Although arthritis in dogs is incurable, there are measures that you can take to relieve your dog’s pain and give your dog a better quality of life.

If your dog is younger and still growing this may be a sign of other joint problems. If this persists it is advised to contact a vet for further advice.

Why is my Dog Limping after a Walk or Running?

The most common cause of limping in dogs is injury. These include:

  • Broken bones
  • Fractures
  • Sprains
  • Dislocation
  • Ligament tears
  • Joint trauma
  • Spinal injuries

All of the above will generally cause limping to some extent. An injured dog should be given lots of rest until the cause of the injury is identified and treated. 

Injuries like these can be avoided with proper conditioning.

How do I know if my Dog’s Leg Injury is Serious?

A limping dog should be taken seriously, but limping is not always an emergency situation. In most cases, a limping dog should see a vet if the limping persists. It is important to first assess the severity of the situation. Can your dog walk? Is there bleeding? Is your dog in noticeable pain? Are there any other signs of weakness?

It will usually be clear if your dog needs medical attention. Some signs to watch out for that call for immediate vet attention include:

  • Sudden inability to stand up and walk
  • Extreme pain – This could be in the form of vocalising their pain or showing signs of aggression or fear
  • Bleeding profusely
  • Swelling 
  • Obvious fracture of broken bone
  • Fever
  • Severe vomiting

When should I take my Dog to the Vet for a Limp?

If your dog is experiencing any of the above it is considered an emergency and you should take it to a vet immediately. If your dog is not showing any of the signs above and limping persists for more than 24 hours, it is then also important to get veterinary advice and attention.

How can I Treat my Dogs Limping at Home?

It is always recommended to get a proper diagnosis for your limping dog. If you are confident that your dog’s injury isn’t serious and is something like a strain or a sprain you can instead treat the pain at home. Here are some ways you can treat your dogs limping at home:

  • Give your dog non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Rimadyl is a common anti-inflammatory drug which is safe for dogs. Do NOT give your dog human pain relief as this is toxic for dogs.
  • Apply ice pack or a heated pad to the injured leg.
  • Give your dog plenty of rest. Sports injuries need proper time to heal so refrain from bringing your dogs on walks or runs until the injury subsides.
  • Supplement your dog’s diet with ginger. Ginger is a natural anti inflammatory and it’s a great addition to