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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.Download the Ultimate Rehabilitation & Physiotherapy Guide for Dogs

 

  • 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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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26 Responses to Why is My Dog Limping

  • noemi says:

    my dog is a shih tzu and sometimes limps. Hes not a puppy anymore but hes not old either.Like i mentioned earlier, he has been limping but sometimes he walks like normal. My mom says hes faking it but i really don’t think so. This has been happening for maybe like tweeks and it has me worried. I’d like to know what exactly could be wrong with him. Reading this has been a help but i can’t decide which of these are the reason for his limp.

  • helga says:

    Hi Noemi
    Your dog is limping for a reason. With it being off and on it is likely aggravated by some form of activity or movement. A dog can at any age tear their ACL or cause some other form of injury. He needs to be checked out by a vet to see if he has done something to his knee or if it is just a pulled muscle or arthritis or some other injury. If we do nothing the situation can worsen and what was a relatively minor issue can become a monster. Please have him checked out by a Holistic Vet if you have one and make sure he is not hurting himself further. Dogs don’t fake it except when you put booties on them and they pretend they can’t walk now! All the best of luck with your Shih Tzu!

  • Michelle baker says:

    My 7 month old lab pup atarted limping last night! His from right leg! He keeps hobbling around and is feeling very sorry for himself!! I’ve flexed all his joints/toes and palpated the leg/shoulder, I’ve checked his pads and between his toes, and he hasn’t flinched at any of this!! Is it likely to be puppy growing pains? I can’t get him seen until Friday! I’m really worried about him :-( xx

  • helga says:

    Hi Michelle,
    So sorry to hear of your puppy limping on the forelimb. Has he fallen or jumped up and landed wrong? Has he over exercised or played too hard with another dog? He may have a pulled muscle or tendon. If you checked all his toes and pads he may have strained something. Young puppies growth plates are not solid and so their exercise and play needs to be carefully watched. Keep him confined until you can see a vet. In the meantime you can give him Traumeel tabs to help with any soft tissue injury. This will lessen the pain. Keep him on leash to prevent bursts of running. He may also have hurt his shoulder or he could have put his back out and need an adjustment. Sometimes an injury to the rear will cause lameness in the front. I wish you the best of luck and don’t worry, puppies are resilient.

  • Kyle says:

    I have two boxers, one female who is 3 and one of her male puppies who is almost a year. Both dogs seem to be limping on one of their back legs, one on the left, one on the right. I have taken them to my vet and was told it maybe be a stifle problem in one and a back problem in the other. Both were prescribed previcox which is a anti-inflamtory. This seemed to help but I have ran out of pills. Although the pills aren’t terribly expensive I was looking for maybe a cheaper sub.

  • helga says:

    Hi Kyle,
    That is discouraging news to hear of both dogs having lameness issues. If the vet mentioned it was a possible stifle problem in one, did he/she perform the drawer test to try and determine if the CCL was injured? Did they do x-rays or manipulation of any kind? How did they determine it was a back issue in the other dog? Did they do x-rays, palpitation or anything? If it was determined to be a back issue with one, did they perform or suggest a chiropractic evaluation or adjustment? Sometimes a back that is out will affect a limb and even a dog’s digestion.

    Giving anti-inflammatories on regular basis is not a good thing. The underlying cause of the lameness needs to be addressed. I would seriously get them both to a holistic vet who can determine what is the underlying issue before it manifests into something more serious and life long. There are natural anti-inflammatories you can give your dogs, but again, they are so young to have this issue. Please look into getting them checked a bit more thoroughly and treated so they will not have to be on a life long regime of drugs. I wish you all the best and I hope this helps…

  • Nicole says:

    Hi, my eight-year old beagle lost his footing and slid on some ice – he may have jarred his leg or something. Anyhow, since then he seems to limp at the end of the day. He is active as usual during the day, but in the evening, he seems to have pain with his right leg. Do you have any recommendations? Thank you in advance for your help!!

  • Valerie says:

    Hi, we have a mini beagle and she is just over one year old. A couple days ago I was going to tie her out to go potty and she got away from me before I had her clip latched. She ran off down the road and after about 5 minutes of me freaking out she finally came back lol. Ever since then she had been slightly limping on her front leg, and if u touch it she howls with her high pitch beagle howl and we have been very careful and keeping an eye on her hoping whatever happened would heal, however it’s been a couple of days now and she doesn’t seem to be getting better, in fact she’s having a hard time jumping up on the couch and down from the couch. Yesterday she seemed a lot better and was even moving around quite a bit more then she had been the day before that but today seems more sore and today is when she started having problems getting on and off the couch. I don’t know if maybe she just over did it an made herself sore again or if I really need to just find a vet for her

  • Leah Thompson says:

    My 13 year old dogs just began limping on her front right leg, its only happened once before and my guts telling me this might be onset arthritis. Shes only had it after racing round like a looney.

  • helga says:

    Hi Nicole,
    Get him checked to see if he tore his cruciate in knee. He may just have arthritis setting in, in which case I would give him Traumeel tabs to help with pain and GLS daily to help as well. If you can swim him in a pool it would help. I would get him checked by a holistic vet if you can for what you can do to help him. All the best…

  • helga says:

    Hi Valerie
    Sorry to hear of your beagle having forelimb issues! I would not let her jump up and down right now, on the couch or anything for that matter. She could just have pulled a muscle or ligament or tendon. In that case rest is important and no jumping. If she is lame for a long time get her in to a vet. You could try Traumeel tabs they help with straining, but if she injured herself more seriously, you need to get her looked at. She is only a year old so you do not want to damage the growth plates and she can show pain in a number of ways. Please keep a close eye on her and get her to a vet if it has not improved soon. All the best…

  • helga says:

    Hi Leah
    Given that your dog is 13 and it happened after running around like a goon, that is probably the reason. She also could have pulled a muscle or tendon or ligament. Rest is the answer if that is the case, swimming will help, in a controlled environment to not over do it. If she has strained something give her Traumeel tabs for relief. They can be given 3 a day for 3 or 4 days to see if she gets relief. Give away from food. I hope you have some luck with her and go to a vet if it persists. All the best…

  • Diana Mooney says:

    Hi, my dog is a cross german shephard and she is only one and a half years old recently she has started to limp, not all the time just seems to be after she has been running around the park with m other two dogs, I’ve checked her paws and there are no cuts etc and it doesn’t seem to be hurting her as such?….

  • Barbara Cleary says:

    Hi, my 3 yr old boxer is limping. She holds her left hind leg up also. The vet says she has pulled a muscle and gave rimadyl for 3 wks. She seemed fine then, so I let her have a short (mad) run and she was back to square one. The vet advises rest. Its now 8 wks. She is resting with only a couple of short walks a day. I have brought her to the sea for a swim a few times to help with her leg and to get rid of pent up energy. She doesn´t enjoy it as the waves scare her. I bought a life jacket for her and I carry her in and stay and hold her for about 3mins then a rest on shore and then another 3 mins and another time. Approx. 3 times a week. Is this too much or too little? I do not have access to a pool. The sea is my only option. The water is warmish here in Tenerife. I massage her back and legs also. Does it normally take this length of time to heal a pulled muscle?
    Advice would be really appreciated. Thanks

  • Rhonda says:

    My year old female Pitt boxer mix is on her third episode of limping on her rear left leg. The limping is intermittant. It is most pronounced when she gets up from laying down. She will not use the injured leg at all to go down stairs. I took her to the ER in February and the x rays showed nothing. The vet said it was a muscle injury. Last week after a long walk , she started limping again. Now the vet says perhaps a partial acl tear. I started her on glucosamine, and am resting her as much as possible.

    Do you think another exam is warranted? Does this sound like an acl tear? I am hesitant to have surgery unless it is absolutely necessary. Is it possible for her to heal with rest alone?

  • helga says:

    Hi Diana
    If she has intermittent lameness after running around, she could have partially torn her cruciate in the knee. She may just have pulled a muscle or even put her back out. I suggest getting her in to your holistic vet to check her over and make sure it is not a knee injury. If she injured the knee you want to catch it before she makes it worse and follow a program to heal it. She may just need a chiropractic adjustment. Traumeel tabs help with soft tissue injuries and soreness but you need to find out what the underlying issue is first. All the best!

  • helga says:

    Hi Barbara,
    Did your vet do a drawer test on your dog’s knee? By doing that test you can see if a cruciate ligament has been ruptured. If he / she checked that and is confident it is a pulled muscle, then rest and restrained exercise is the best route. Swimming is the ideal for healing this. When you carry her in to the water and are holding her, she needs to swim gently not hard and vigorously. I am not sure if it is a forelimb injury and a hind limb. By what you say her rear left is sore now too. Massaging her is good because she will compensate in other areas making herself tight in other muscles. Doing this 3 times a week is great. Short leash walks and no free running around at all or jumping. Monitor her closely and if she starts to improve you can increase her exercise. Follow your vet’s advice and if she continues to get lame in the rear limb, get her checked for some other injury. I would also see about a chiropractic adjustment. Sometimes that alone can correct lameness. Yes, pulled muscles can take a while to heal. Keep me posted! All the best!

  • helga says:

    Hi Rhonda
    If your dog is only a year old, I would not say it is from arthritis, which is common for lameness after laying down and getting up in older dogs. X-rays do not show all injuries. How did they determine it was a muscle injury? If it is an ACL tear a drawer test can determine that. Upon saying that, I had a dog who my fabulous vet could not get a positive diagnosis on a drawer test and I had to go to specialist, and it was determined an ACL tear. Surgery is not always needed. A dog can heal an ACL tear with braces or conservative management alone. It depends how bad it is and if the meniscus was damaged. The regime is the same as if they had surgery and you would need to be really diligent in the restraining end of it as well as in the rehabilitation of it. Pool therapy is the best and if you can I would attempt that. You need a hydrotherapist that is trained in this and to prevent a possible further injury to the other stifle. They usually end up injuring the other knee and it is crucial to remember the dog is now compensating with the good leg, which stresses that one. Keep me posted, I wish you all the best!

  • Karabo says:

    Hello
    I have a 8 month mixed boxer, i noticed him limping slightly four days ago were he was still using that hind leg now and then, trying to avoid parasites and menge i bath and powder him regularly. But now he totally refrains from using it, i checked his foot pad, between his toes and nothing seems to be stuck in there, even soaked his leg in some bicarbonate to maybe aid in removing something that might be stuck in there. When i bend its knee then it seems to be in some pain, but overall he is still himself. Being in the outskirts of the nearest town and vet, anything u can advice on that i might try to do? Thank you

  • CK says:

    “My dog started limping yesterday. Appeared to be better until he went running around outside and was looking moving again. Now my adjacent neighbor’s dog is limping. Too much of a coincidence for them not to be related. We live in Ga and neither can see any bites, thorns,splinters, swelling,etc.. This is too coincidental for both our fogs to start limping within a day of each other. Any ideas?

  • Sujay S. says:

    My dog is around 4 years old.He actually was a stray dog ;but the way he acts funnily has made the entire street love him a lot.But what I’ve been seeing since the last week has made me completely distressed and worried about his condition.He has been limping, there is an injury in his right rear limb.First I thought he was thrown a stone at,but day-by-day the injury is spreading gradually between the paws.The hairs in the region have fallen and the area looks as though it has been ‘eaten by fungus’.He keeps licking it continuously and I think it itches the more he licks .The affected region looks bloody pink and I can’t stand the way he bears the pain.Another problem which has added to my troubles is that the region underneath his hips and near his stomach are being affected the same way too ,since the last three days!And he keeps licking it.He’s not dull or anything,but I think he has become a little less active because of the pain.Four days ago two pups were killed in my street itself by a car and a lorry and they died at that instant itself.
    Is this a serious problem necessary to be shown to a veternery doctor or is there a home remedy?One of my friends told dogs limp due to fungus attack in the paws and that to dip the infected limb in potassium permanganate solution.Is this true ,or is it some other disease?Please let me know if there is any ”home remedy”.Please,please do send me a cure or solution for this disease ,as soon as you can.I don’t want to see another dog dead!! :(

  • helga says:

    Hi Karabo,
    If your dog is not comfortable using the leg 100% of the time and has pain upon bending it, he may have torn his CCL. Please get him checked by a vet. If you treat the pain and do not know why he is hurting, it could do more damage. Getting him checked could prevent possible costly surgery. It is important to have a thorough examination done on his knee. It could be as simple as needing a chiropractic adjustment but it is better to be safe than sorry and also your dog needs to not be in any discomfort. Best of luck!

  • helga says:

    Hi CK,
    Could it be they were playing together? Did they sneak out when no one was looking and rough house together? Just a suggestion….

  • helga says:

    Hi Sujay,
    I am sorry to hear of your dog’s condition! it sounds like he may have a bacterial infection, lick ganuloma or even mange. I do not know as I am not a vet and cannot see your dog. I do think you need to get him into a vet asap to get some treatment for his condition. If it is spreading and he keeps licking it, it will only get worse and is causing him discomfort. There are numerous things you can apply to aid in the discomfort but that is not a wise option until you find out the underlying cause of this. Keep me posted and all the best!

  • Sabrina says:

    My family came home from dinner to the sound of our two dogs (Comet, a 7 year old beagle, and Winnie, a year old “Chorkie”) barking and freaking out. When we opened the door, both ran inside, but Comet was limping (back right leg) and won’t put much or any weight on it. When my dad went outside, he couldn’t find anything (we were thinking it could’ve been a snake or other animal due to the dogs loud barking). What should we do? He isn’t lethargic, and is acting very normally, except for the leg.

  • helga says:

    Hi Sabrina
    Sorry to hear of your beagle getting hurt. You need to check if he has any injury to his body, his back, leg, knee, foot or hock. If you can’t find anything then please get him to a vet if he is still lame after a few days. if it is a bite from a snake you will see something. if it is an internal injury you will only see lameness, possible swelling and discomfort. If he injured his knee you need it assessed before further damage is done. I wish you all the best for your dogs and keep a close watch on him.

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