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Limping in Dogs: Causes & Treatment

One of the most common reasons our Yucaipa vets see dogs at our animal hospital is for them to be limping. Today, our veterinarians discuss the causes of limping in dogs, what you can do to help your limping dog, and when it's time to see a vet in today's post.

Why is my dog limping?

Your dog's limping could be caused by something minor, such as a small stone caught between their toes, or it could be the result of a more serious health issue. The most common causes of canine limping are as follows:

  • Something painful stuck in their paw
  • Insect bite or sting
  • Strains or tears (ligaments, tendons, muscles)
  • Trauma, such as broken bones
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Infectious diseases, such as Lyme
  • Vascular conditions

Your dog could also be limping because of a leg injury. Some of the most common leg injuries in dogs are sprains, fractures, and dislocations.

Are certain breeds more prone to develop a limp?

Yes, certain dog breeds are more prone to develop a limp due to their genetic predispositions and physical characteristics. For example, large breeds such as Great Danes and German Shepherds are more likely to experience joint issues that can lead to limping. 

Should I take my limping dog to the vet?

While it is not always necessary to take your dog to the vet as soon as he begins limping, there are times when it is. If any of the following apply to your dog, you should seek medical attention from your veterinarian or a nearby emergency veterinary clinic.
  • 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?

When you first notice your dog limping, try to give him as much rest as you can. You'll need to restrict your mobility because any additional strain could result in a more serious injury. Exercise should be avoided until your dog has recovered, and you should walk your pet outside for bathroom breaks on a leash because they may try to run if left alone in the yard.

Look for cuts or other signs of injury on your dog's foot. If you notice anything that hurts, please contact your veterinarian. If you suspect inflammation is causing your dog's limp, alternate between heat and ice packs to reduce swelling and discomfort. Consult your veterinarian about which products to use and when. Check for signs of bleeding. This usually indicates whether or not your dog has been injured, punctured, or bitten.

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.

Your veterinarian has the training and knowledge to best determine the cause and severity of your pup's pain. A thorough examination may include blood work, 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 pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your dog is limping or showing other signs of pain or discomfort, contact our Yucaipa vets right away to book an appointment.

New Patients Welcome

Green Valley Veterinary Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Yucaipa companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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