Unsurprisingly, limping is one of the most common reasons we see our patients. Today, our Phoenix vets are here to talk about the reasons dogs might limp and how you can help them.
Dogs love to run and play, so it's not a surprise that they can suffer from countless issues and injuries that can cause limping. Sadly, we can't just ask them where they are hurting or how painful the issue really is. That means it's up to you as the loving pet parent to try and figure out what is causing your dog's discomfort and how you can help.
Why Your Dog Might Be Limping
Your dog's limping could be caused by something minor like a small stone caught between their toes or it could be an indication of a serious health concern. Some of the most common causes of limping in dogs include:
- Something painful stuck in their paw
- Strains or tears (ligaments, tendons, muscles)
- Trauma, such as broken bones
- Insect bite or sting
- Infectious diseases, such as Lyme
- Inflammatory conditions
- Vascular conditions
When You Need To Bring Your Dog To The Vet
The truth is, not every limp will require veterinary intervention but there are some instances that will require diagnosis and treatment. 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 You Can Help A Limping Dog
The first time you notice your dog limping, you should start by trying to get them to rest. Limiting mobility will help prevent further injury and string to the limb. Any form of exercise should be put on hold until your dog is not limping anymore, followed by a gradual reintroduction to exercise. You should leash your pet to walk them outside for bathroom breaks as they may try to run if let out into the yard.
Examine your pup's foot for signs of injury, such as cuts. Contact your vet if you notice something painful.
If you think inflation might be the cause of your dog's limp, try alternating heat and ice packs on the injured area to help reduce swelling and discomfort. Contact your vet for recommendations on which to apply and when.
Check for bleeding. This will usually provide insight into whether your dog has suffered an injury, puncture, or bite.
If your dog's limp is mild, you can just monitor them at home for 24 - 48 hours. Watch for worsening or new symptoms or to see if 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 to 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 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.