If your pet has suddenly developed a limp, it can be a worrisome situation. Did they sustain an injury? Is it arthritis? What happened? 

There are many reasons why orthopedic injuries and conditions develop. Your team at Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital is here to give you the run-down on what causes limping in dogs and what you can do to protect your pet from these problems.

What Causes Limping in Dogs

Most dogs are full of energy and enthusiasm, bounding over rocks and logs, darting here and there in the park, and roughhousing with their canine peers. No wonder they are prone to occasional injury with all of the wear and tear they put on their physiology. Lameness and limping are sure signs that something is amiss and your dog is in pain. 

Your pet’s limp can come on quickly or gradually. If the limping occurs out of the blue, it is usually caused by an injury or trauma of some kind. An orthopedic condition, like arthritis, is considered a progressive condition (sometimes as a result of an early injury) that will continue to worsen without treatment.

Some common causes of limping in dogs include:

  1. Paw injury – From burns to foreign objects embedded in the paw pads, your dog’s paws are vulnerable to injury. Check your pet’s paws thoroughly, including between the toes, to look for anything that might have gotten lodged in there. 
  2. Musculoskeletal injury – Injuries range from dislocation to fracture, as well as strains, sprains, and ligament tears. Spinal injuries can also cause limping in your dog. 
  3. Disease – Certain bone diseases/conditions, such as hypertrophic osteodystrophy and panosteitis, and infections result in lameness or immobility in pets. Bone cancers cause lameness and pain, as well.
  4. Joint disease – Osteoarthritis, patellar luxation, hip dysplasia, disc disease, among others all contribute to immobility and pain that manifests as limping. These conditions are common in older dogs as well as breeds that are more susceptible to joint disease and musculoskeletal problems. 
  5. Lyme diseaseLyme disease also can affect our four-legged friends and causes an assortment of symptoms, such as fever, loss of appetite, reduced energy, and limping caused by swelling of joints.

There are varied reasons why limping in dogs occurs. If your pet has started limping, please contact us for a consultation and examination. Only through the use of diagnostics, such as blood work and X-rays, can we determine the cause and begin treatment for your fur friend.

Treatment and Prevention

Treating limping in dogs is based on the diagnosis. If it’s a chronic condition, such as arthritis, then the treatment is typically one that minimizes inflammation and decreases pain, as well as uses complementary therapies to better support your pet. If the limping is caused by an injury that can be treated through surgery or rest, then the limping will diminish over time.

There are many ways you can help prevent lameness in your pet.

  • Keep them at the right weight for their body size and breed. Overweight pets are more prone to injury.
  • Get to know any orthopedic conditions your pet is at risk for, such as understanding their breed and genetics that might contribute to these problems.
  • Speak with your veterinarian about managing pain in your furry one.
  • Keep your pet from overexercising and watch them when out and off leash to prevent accidents and injury.
  • Maintain your pet’s vaccines and parasite prevention.
  • Do a once-over of your pet each week to look for any problems, such as parasites, injury, paw pad problems, etc.

Would you like more information on limping in dogs and what you can do? Please do not hesitate to call us.