Limping is one of the most common reasons that our Pleasant Hill vets see dogs at our animal hospital. Today, we look at the causes of limping in dogs, what you can do to help your limping dog, and when it's time to see a vet.
Just like people, dogs can have a wide variety of health problems that cause them to walk with a limp. Dogs, in contrast to people, are unable to convey to us what happened to them or how painful their condition is. This presents a problem. This indicates that it is up to you, as the doting owner of the dog, to determine what is making your dog uncomfortable and how you can alleviate his suffering.
Why is my dog limping?
The reason behind your dog's limping could be something trivial, like a small stone stuck between their toes, or it could be an indication of a serious health problem. The following are some of the most common reasons for a dog to walk lame:
- Something painful stuck in their paw
- Insect bite or sting
- Strains or tears (ligaments, tendons, muscles)
- Trauma, such as broken bones
- Infectious diseases, such as Lyme
- Inflammatory conditions
- Vascular conditions
Do I need to head straight to the vet?
In spite of the fact that it may not always be necessary to take your dog to the veterinarian if he or she is limping, there are certain circumstances in which an appointment with the veterinarian is absolutely necessary for your pet. If your dog exhibits any of the following symptoms, it is imperative that you seek immediate medical attention by contacting either your regular veterinarian or the emergency veterinary clinic located closest to you.
- A broken limb (will be at an irregular angle)
- A dangling limb (this indicates dislocation)
- Any moderate to severe swelling
- Limbs that feel hot to the touch
- Limping in combination with a fever
How can I help my limping dog?
As soon as you notice any sign of limping, it is important that you give your dog as much rest as you possibly can. Because any additional strain may cause a more serious injury, you will need to restrict your range of motion. Your dog should refrain from exercise until they have fully recovered, and you should always keep them on a leash when taking them outside for bathroom breaks because they may try to get away if you let them out into the yard unrestrained.
Conduct a thorough inspection of your dog's foot, looking for signs of injury such as cuts. If you feel something is hurting, make an appointment with your local veterinarian.
If you think that inflammation is the cause of your dog's limp, you can try alternating heat and ice packs as a way to help reduce swelling and discomfort in your pet. Get in touch with your veterinarian to get their recommendations on which product to use and when.
Check for any signs of bleeding. In most cases, this will shed light on whether or not your dog has been injured by a bite, puncture, or other type of bite.
If the limp isn't too severe, you should be able to monitor your dog's progress at home for the next 24 to 48 hours, keeping an eye out for additional symptoms and noticing whether or not the limp becomes more noticeable.
The majority of the time, it is preferable to err on the side of caution rather than regret, and making an appointment with your veterinarian may be able to help you and your dog feel better. In the event that the limp does not start to improve on its own, if it is getting worse, or if it is accompanied by whining or yelping, it is time to contact your veterinarian or go to the emergency vet in your area.
Your dog's pain, and how severe it is, can be best evaluated by your veterinarian, who has the education and experience to do so. Bloodwork, testing for ticks, and x-rays might all be part of a comprehensive examination. Along with your dog's breed, history, age, and overall health, we will take all of these factors into consideration when making a diagnosis and coming up with a treatment plan for him.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.