My dog is limping. What causes limping, and what can be done?

Excerpt from Ask the Vet About Dogs: Easy Answers to Commonly Asked Questions

There are many possible causes for a limping dog, and they depend on a number of factors. Is your dog young or old? Did her pain seem to have appeared suddenly or gradually? Does it come and go, or is it consistent? If it comes and goes, is it worse during exercise, or when she’s still, such as when she wakes up in the morning? Is it always the same leg that seems to hurt? Is she mildly lame, able, and willing to use the limb somewhat, or does she refuse to use the leg at all? Does the limping hinder her ability to perform everyday tasks like eating or going outside?

Lameness can be caused by abnormality of the skeleton, the muscles, the ligaments and tendons, or the nervous system. Your veterinarian will perform a thorough examination, checking not only your dog’s leg, but all other parts of her body. He or she will observe your dog standing and walking and then carefully palpate the leg to search for specific areas of pain, swelling, or warmth. The veterinarian will also test to determine whether the nervous system is functioning properly. Depending on the results of the physical examination, X-rays may also be taken to find the source of the lameness.

The age of your dog provides a significant clue to the cause of her lameness. Dogs younger than twelve months are susceptible to a number of disorders associated with the growth and development of the bones of the legs. They are more likely to have limb problems caused by nutritional problems than adult dogs. They’re also less likely to have cancer, although bone cancer affects puppies in rare instances. Mature dogs, those older than twelve months of age, are more likely to suffer from deterioration of the joints, torn ligaments and tendons, and cancer. Most cases of limping in dogs are caused by mild trauma to a bone, ligament, tendon, or joint, and heal after a few days of rest. Your veterinarian can prescribe medication to ease the pain while healing progresses. Broken bones are usually, but not always, obvious to the veterinarian. Dogs can suffer from other orthopedic disorders so it’s important to have your dog examined by a veterinarian to determine the exact cause of your dog’s lameness.


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Karl   colorado springs, Colorado

5/4/2016 3:59:27 AM

It actually isn't so common for a dog to strain a muscle. A limp can be a serious sign to you that something is wrong, as often dogs don't yelp around in pain when something hurts them. Your vet is the only person qualified to tell you what's wrong with your animal, and as a pet owner you have the obligation to get your pet checked out ASAP.

In our case, a limp for my husky meant hip dysplasia, a mild case, but dysplasia nonetheless. We took immediate action and to this day we still maintain a somewhat high level of activity and low pain for my dog. I give him nutritional supplements that promote healthy joints, and we also use the Ortocanis dog hip brace to help give him that extra support he needs. It also works to improve circulation in the area, keeping the hips warmer and reducing pain. I always use it when we go for longer walks, and sometimes on colder days or whenever I notice extra

The Ortocanis online store makes great products for disabled dogs, I looked pretty heavily into the different options before deciding to buy from them and there's was the best I found, based on price/quality/positive reviews.

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Daniella monstoque   valdosta, GA

9/28/2015 11:26:21 AM

my dog was limping when she was a puppy and then i figured out that her leg was broken!!!

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Sara   Colorado springs, Colorado

8/30/2015 8:48:54 AM

What is this lump or cyst I'm really not sure and can't take him in until Tuesday

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Cayliegh   Colorado springs, Colorado

1/22/2015 8:49:33 PM

I have a boxer mix who is 10 years old and has started limping out of the blue and we moved her to different floorings and pushed her paws under her legs and bones but we don't see anything weird she doesn't flinch either. Please help me

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