Why is My Dog Limping
A Limping Dog can be a Serious Condition
Learn the most common reasons your dog is limping
We all know the dreaded feeling in the pit of our stomach when our beloved pet returns to us from running around and is now a limping dog. We wonder what they did and what part of their body they did it to! How badly your dog is limping and for how long they are limping is going to determine if a trip to the vet is needed.
There are so many activities that can leave dogs limping and it doesn’t have to take a dramatic fall or accident to cause this. The simple act of running and chasing a ball and twisting to turn can cause an injury. In fact, many anterior cruciate ligaments (acl) are ruptured from this simple act alone. We can’t deprive our dogs from playing and expending their energy so a limping dog may be the end result at times.
The following is a list of the most common reasons of why a dog is limping and helps to pinpoint the reason instead of being in the dark. The list is by no means conclusive and if my dog is limping for an extended period of time, I would definitely go to the vet and have it checked. There could be a more serious underlying condition and dogs don’t fake it! So check for the following:
- Puppy growing pains – sometimes this is “Pano” which is short for Panosteitis. This is when the growth plates of a young dog grow at different rates. It is very painful and can affect one leg or more at once. Sometimes it disappears for a time and then re-appears later and a limping dog is a sign. This is a growth disorder and usually does not occur after 2 years of age. Keeping your dog lean will help with this condition.
- Ruptured or torn ligaments – is serious and can cause intermittent limping or complete disuse of the limb. If the dog is limping part time, the ligament may be partially torn. If the dog is limping full time or refusing to use the limb, the ligament may be totally ruptured. This is something that needs medical attention immediately. If it is only a partial tear, chances of recovery and healing are far better and there are more options available. If it is a complete ligament tear, surgical intervention is usually necessary. Orthopedic braces are available and have been successful in helping a dog recover from this injury. Hydrotherapy is one of the most effective rehabilitative methods for this injury.
- Spinal injuries – are another injury that can bring about limping in dogs. Spinal degeneration is more common in older dogs but other back injuries can also trigger limping in dogs. Sometimes chiropractic adjustments are needed and the dog will be pain free again and in correct alignment. Spinal injuries can be very serious and need to be looked at by your vet.
- Broken bones – can happen and will cause limping in dogs. Usually if the limb has a serious fracture it will be very painful and swollen and hang limply. The dog will not use it and it should be splinted to prevent further injury and then taken to the vet. Minor hairline fractures will not be as painful and although the dog is limping, they will continue to weight bear on the limb to some extent.
- Strained muscles – will also deliver a limping dog. Muscle pulls and strains are temporary and most of the time cause no swelling of the tissues in the surrounding area. This type of injury is short lived and a warm heating pad can help with the soreness. Traumeel tabs are also excellent for speeding up the healing of any soft tissue injury and the Traumeel gel can be applied on the affected area providing there is no open wound.
- Foot injuries – is often an overlooked area and is very common in dogs. If a dog has a cut to the foot pad or has any sharp object embedded into the webbing between the toes, the end result is definitely a limping dog. Even a torn nail or overgrown nail will cause pain and limping in dogs. If you can only imagine an overgrown nail on your foot being constantly pushed into the skin every time you walk, you will realize the pain associated with it and the avoidance of using it by limping. It is very important to keep the nails trim and do foot check-ups regularly. Check for cracks, dried blood, or thorns or any foreign object that could be embedded and causing the pain.
- Arthritis in dogs – is a very common reason you will see a limping dog. Many older dogs develop arthritis in their rear limbs as well as in their forelimbs. It is also common for them to have it in their backs. The stiffness caused by the arthritis is generally worse in the morning or upon the dog arising after a rest. In my e-book “The Ultimate Rehabilitation & Physiotherapy Guide for Dogs” I explain at great length how we can help arthritis in dogs. There are so many methods which I explain in Chapter 5, and how I significantly improved my dog’s life with such easy and natural ways rather than resorting to costly drugs with side effects. One of my dogs lived a fully active life with arthritis throughout her whole body. All of this would not have been possible if I didn’t do what I did to help her.
- Bee stings or tick bites – are another potential reason your dog is limping. These nasty little insects can cause a flair up or infection in your dog affecting their gait. If the tick is a carrier of lyme disease your dog will experience lethargy and excessive thirst. The homeopathic remedy for this is Ledum in pellet form. This should be given as soon as the tick is found on the dog and ruled out as a carrier for lyme disease. For bee stings Apis Mellifica is given after the dog has been stung to counteract the reaction from the venom.
- Neurological disorders – can make a dog have a wobbly gait or cause limping in dogs. If any neurological disorder is suspected, it is paramount you go to the vet. Cranial nerve damage or any damage to the nervous system is serious and it needs to be diagnosed accurately and treated.
So if your dog is limping there are many reasons with these being the most common ones. Dogs don’t lie and the only time I have ever seen one of my dogs faking a limp was when I made them wear waterproof foot gear. She stood in one spot, suddenly anchored to the earth and unable to move an inch. It would have taken a crane to lift that limb up and walk in a normal fashion! Eventually she inched her way along, as though her body was taken over by some alien…perhaps that is psychological limping!
Share your comments and insights about any limping in your dogs!