Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Why is Your Dog Limping?


One of the most common vet visit is dogs limping. The list of reason on why a dog is limping can be extensive. Some causes are more concerning than others but a limping dog should always be evaluated by your veterinarian.

Luxating Patella

This is most common in small dogs but can occur in larger dogs. This is when the knee cap (patella) becomes dislocated. Typically, you will see a dog limp a few steps and then stretch their back legs to put the patella back in place. If severe they require surgery. Your veterinarian can discuss if your pet has this.

Cruciate rupture

This injury is like an ACL in a football player. Usually occurs in larger dogs after running around the backyard. If they fully tear their cruciate they should have surgery to repair it as this is the best way for it to heal.

Torn toe nails

I have seen this too often. A dog tears its nail, bleeds everywhere and then starts to limp. If this occurs, the nail should be pulled off by a veterinarian and medication may be provided to prevent an infection. Keeping this clean is very important.

Tick Disease

If your dog starts to limp your veterinarian may recommend testing for tick borne diseases. Your veterinarian will typically prescribe Doxycycline to treat these diseases and discuss any long term complications that may occur when finding them. Good flea and tick prevention is important in dogs all year round depending on where you live. I would discuss with your veterinarian what flea and tick preventions are best for your pet. 


In some dogs limping can be caused by a mass on their bone. Typically, this cancer is called Osteosarcoma but other cancers can take place on the bone also.  f your veterinarian find a potentially mass on the x-ray they may want to either recheck the x-ray to look for progression or biopsy the bone for confirmation. At that point they will discuss different options that are available for you.

Foreign Body

Always check your dogs paws for any foreign body when they start to limp. It may be something simple like a piece of tape on their pad.

Typically, when you find your dog limping it is important to have your veterinarian evaluate them. As a reminder to not give your dog any over the counter pain medication. This can have serious side effects and cause serious damage.

As dog’s get older they can also have lameness from arthritis. A good Glucosamine supplement may help them move a little better but your veterinarian may need to prescribe an anti-inflammatory also.  

This list is not exclusive, just some of the concerns when your dog is limping.

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