When a dog limps and has trouble walking or standing on one leg, even if it’s moderate, their owners tend to get really worried. The origins and danger of this limp are varied and depend on several factors, their location, whether it involves one or multiple legs, and whether it involves the dog’s front or hind legs. The limp can appear suddenly or gradually, but when should you really be worried?
Why is my dog limping?
The causes of a dog’s limp can be very different and can often be understood by observing the animal. Here are the most common reasons observed when a dog is limping:
Whether it’s an injury on one or more pads, various fractures, the rupture of a cruciate ligament, the dislocation of a hip or joint, the rupture of a tendon in the patella or knee, or a ligament sprain, many injuries and accidents can cause your dog to limp. Traumatic in origin, limping occurs when the dog has made a wrong move or suffered a shock while playing, running, or jumping. Limping due to an injury is often sudden and can therefore be observed quickly and treated.
Certain diseases that affect dogs, such as joint or bone infections, can cause the dog to limp as a symptom. These diseases include the infection of the claw root, osteoarthritis, inflammatory arthritis, osteochondrosis of the shoulder, tendinitis of the shoulder, neurological conditions, pododermatitis, and bone cancer.
While a young dog can be prone to certain bone diseases due to a growth problem, aging in dogs, as in humans, can lead to weakness, pain, and bone and joint diseases. Limping due to illness or aging is usually gradual and not always very visible or linear. Indeed, a disease can cause only occasional limping that subsides on some days but is more obvious on others.
When to worry?
Among the three main reasons for limping in dogs mentioned above, all are worrisome, in the sense that you absolutely must visit a veterinarian as soon as possible to determine the cause of your dog’s limp. Unlike a human, who can express their pain, a dog, like any other animal, will express it through a change. A limp is a physical change that means that your dog is uncomfortable but can’t determine the pain level. While waiting for an appointment with your veterinarian, let your dog rest, avoid any movements, apply a hot water bottle to their affected leg, and observe the paw(s) that are making them suffer. Begin by examining the pads; a splinter, pebble, or ingrown nail may be the source of the limp. You can then move along their injured leg as well to detect any form of swelling or wound and stay attentive to their reactions.
If your dog is limping, don’t wait to take them to see a professional who will perform a complete clinical and orthopedic examination. Some bone and joint problems in dogs, as well as certain growth problems, may also be caused by an unhealthy lifestyle or an unbalanced diet. Only a veterinarian will be able to advise you on the kibble that meets your dog’s needs according to their age and inform you if your dog has other needs to fulfill, such as playing or walking.