Limping is among the most common reasons that our Rancho Palos Verdes vets see dogs at our animal hospital. Today, we explain the causes of limping in your dog, what you can do to help and when it's time to bring them in to see a vet.
Just like people, our dogs can suffer from countless issues that may lead to limping. The difficulty is that, unlike people, our dogs can't let us know what happened and how painful their health issue is. That means it's up to you as their owner to try and figure out (along with their vet) what is causing your dog's pain and discomfort and how you may be able to help.
Why is my dog limping?
Your dog's limping may be caused by something minor such as a small stone bring caught between their toes, or a very serious health concern. Some of the most common causes of limping in dogs that are brought in to All Pets Veterinary Hospital include:
- Insect bite or sting
- Infectious diseases, such as Lyme
- Strains or tears (ligaments, tendons, muscles)
- Something painful stuck in their paw
- Trauma, such as broken bones
- Inflammatory conditions
- Vascular conditions
Do I need to head straight to the vet?
While it isn't always critical to bring your dog in to the vet if they are limping, there are also many cases where bringing your dog into your vet will be the difference between their recovery from a serious health issue and not. If any of the following apply to your dog, make sure to bring them to All Pets Veterinary Hospital or the nearest emergency veterinary clinic for dedicated care.
- Limbs that feel hot to the touch
- Any moderate to severe swelling
- A broken limb (will be at an irregular angle)
- A dangling limb (this indicates dislocation)
- Limping in combination with a fever
How can I help my limping dog?
When you first notice limping, try and rest your pup as much as possible. You will need to limit their mobility, since any further strain may cause serious injury. Your dog's exercise routine should be put on hold until your pup has healed and you should absolutely leash your furry friend when walking them outside for bathroom breaks to avoid further injury.
Examine your pup's foot for signs of injury, such as cuts. Contact your vet if you notice something painful.
If you suspect your dog's limp is caused by inflammation, try alternating between heat and ice packs as a way to help reduce swelling and discomfort. Contact your vet for recommendations on which to apply and when.
Check your dog's paws for bleeding, these can often provide insight into whether or not your dog has suffered any wounds, pictures or bites.
Typically, if the limp isn't severe, you can simply monitor your dog's progress at home over 24-48 hours, watching for more symptoms or to see whether the limp becomes more pronounced.
In the majority of cases, it's better to be safe than sorry and scheduling an appointment with your vet may be able to help your dog and you feel better. If your pup's limp doesn't resolve itself or becomes worse, it's time to call your vet or visit an emergency pet hospital.
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.