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Dog Limping: What to Do

If you've noticed your dog has been limping recently, you are likely understandably concerned. In this post, our Leighton vets explain what causes limping in dogs, what you can do to help your pooch, and when it's time to see a vet. 

There are many potential reasons a dog may limp. However, unlike people, dogs are unable to tell us what's happened or how painful their condition is. This means it's up to you, the caring pup parent, to determine what's causing your dog's discomfort and which actions you can take to help. 

Why is my dog limping?

Sometimes, a dog's limp is caused by something minor, such as a small stone getting stuck between their toes. On the other hand, a limp may point to a more serious health issue. Here are some of the most common causes of canine limping:

  • Something stuck in their paw that's causing pain 
  • Infectious diseases, such as Lyme
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Vascular conditions
  • Sting or bite from an insect 
  • Strains or tears (in a muscle, tendon, or ligament)
  • Trauma, such as a fractured bone 

How can I help my limping dog?

Make sure your dog gets as much rest as possible. You'll need to restrict your dog's mobility, since any additional strain may lead to a more serious injury.

Exercise should be avoided until your dog has recovered. Our vets recommend taking your dog for bathroom break walks outside on a leash, since they may attempt to run if left alone in the yard. 

When should I take my limping dog to the vet?

While you won't always need to take your dog to the vet right away if she's limping, there are times when it's necessary. If any of these circumstances are true for your dog, it's time to take your pooch to the vet or a local emergency veterinary clinic immediately. 

  • A broken limb (will be at an irregular angle)
  • Any moderate to severe swelling 
  • A dangling limb (an indication of dislocation) 
  • Limbs that feel hot to the touch 
  • Limping in combination with fever
  • Clear pain or discomfort (anxious, whining, or panting)
  • Limping progresses to weakness or paralysis (complete or partial loss of the ability to move)
  • Signs of bleeding
  • If any other symptoms develop in conjunction with limping (vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea, behavioral changes, decreased thirst or appetite)

Bleeding can indicate whether your dog has been injured or suffered a bite or puncture wound. If the limp isn't severe, you can usually just keep an eye on your dog's progress at home for the next 24–48 hours, looking for new symptoms or whether the limp gets worse.

In most cases, it's better to be safe than sorry, and making an appointment with your veterinarian can benefit both you and your dog. If the limp persists, worsens, or is accompanied by whining or yelping, it's time to contact your veterinarian or go to an emergency veterinarian.

How will a veterinarian treat my dog's limp?

If your dog's been limping, treatment will depend on the underlying cause of the issue. Your veterinarian has the training and knowledge to best determine the cause and severity of your pup's pain. A thorough examination may include bloodwork, tick testing, or X-rays

Your dog's breed, history, age, and general health will all be considered in the diagnosis, as well as the prescribed treatment plan.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding people or pets. If you are concerned about your pet's health, contact your veterinarian right away for diagnosis and treatment.

Is your dog limping or displaying other signs of pain or discomfort? Contact our Leighton vets today to book an exam.

All Patients Welcome

Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Leighton animals. We currently only take pets by walk-in, so bring your pet to us today and let us help ensure their well-being.

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Contact (256) 446-8888