Limping in dogs is a frequent issue that brings many furry friends to our Crossroads Veterinary Hospital emergency vets. Just like humans, dogs can experience various problems that lead to limping. Today, we look at the causes of limping in dogs, what you can do to help your limping dog, and when it's time to see a vet.
Your dog's limp might stem from minor issues like a tiny stone stuck between their toes or signify a more severe health problem.
Some common causes of limping in dogs include:
Why is my dog limping?
Your dog's limping could be caused by something minor, like a small stone caught between their toes, or it could indicate a serious health concern. Some of the most common causes of limping in dogs include:
- Something painful stuck in their paw
- Insect bite or sting
- Strains or tears (ligaments, tendons, muscles)
- Trauma, such as broken bones
- Infectious diseases, such as Lyme
- Inflammatory conditions
- Vascular conditions
Do I need to head straight to the vet?
While it's not always necessary to head to the vet if your dog is limping, there are some cases when a vet appointment is essential for your pup. If any of the following apply to your dog, it's time to contact your veterinarian or your nearest emergency veterinarian clinic for care.
- A broken limb (will be at an irregular angle)
- A dangling limb (this indicates dislocation)
- Any moderate to severe swelling
- Limbs that feel hot to the touch
- Limping in combination with a fever
How can I help my limping dog?
If your dog starts limping, take steps to keep them rested and limit their movement to prevent further injury. Pause their regular exercise routine and use a lease when taking them outside for bathroom breaks to prevent running.
Examine your pup's foot for signs of injury, such as cuts. Contact your vet if you notice something painful.
If you think inflammation might be the cause of the lib, you can try applying heat and ice packs alternately to reduce swelling and discomfort. Ask your vet for guidance on when and how to use them.
Check for bleeding. This will usually provide insight into whether your dog has suffered an injury, puncture, or bite.
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 most cases, it's better to be safe than sorry, and scheduling an appointment with your vet may help both you and your dog feel better. If the limp doesn't begin to resolve itself, is becoming worse, or is accompanied by whining or yelping, it's time to call your vet or visit your nearest emergency vet.
Your vet will assess your dog's condition through various means, including physical exams, blood work, tick testing, or X-rays. They'll consider your dog's breed, history, age, and overall health to make a diagnosis and recommend the appropriate 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.