Why is My Dog Limping After Laying Down?

You look over and your angel of a pup is sleeping in the perfect ray of sunshine. After a moment, they open their eyes and their tail starts wagging when they see you watching them. They get up and walk over for some well deserved pets, when you notice they’re limping slightly. Don’t panic — many dogs limp after a long nap and it could be caused by something extremely simple. So why is your dog limping after laying down?

First of all, you shouldn’t confuse limping with them stretching. Some dogs arch their back and reach out their front paws for a good stretch and others splay their hind legs out behind them. That’s normal! A limp is when they refuse to put all of their weight on one of their legs, which results in a hobbled-like walk. 

Here are some likely causes of their sudden limp.

Their Leg Is Asleep!

Just like humans, dogs’ legs can fall asleep too. While we’re not sure if they feel the same numbness and pins and needles that we do, we DO know how uncomfortable it is to put weight on a sleeping limb. Don’t worry — if this happens, your dog’s leg will wake up in time. 

Here’s why that happens. A limb falls asleep when too much pressure is exerted on a nerve or blood vessel for a long period of time. This interrupts your brain’s ability to communicate when your leg, which causes the tingling sensation. 

When you and your dog start moving the limb more, the sensation will get worse before it gets better. But it does get better! Once the limb is fully awake, your dog will use it again without any problem. 

Arthritis 

If your dog is older or had a leg injury in the past, it’s possible they’ve developed arthritis in their joints. This just means that they’re a little more stiff than normal and it can take them some time to feel confident on walking on their arthritic limb after a long nap. 

After a few steps, the joint warms up and begins to naturally lubricate the area, allowing easier movement. This process is similar to the way that blood flow helps a dog’s leg when it has fallen asleep.

A vet can easily diagnose if it’s arthritis. Arthritis is not normally a huge cause for concern, but keep an eye on your dog to make sure it doesn’t get worse or prevent them from moving. You can use a dog leg brace to help ease their pain if their arthritis is in their elbow or knees, to prevent muscle atrophy. 

Injury or Unseen Disease

Some of the more severe reasons for a limp can be an injury or an underlying disease. Even if your dog wasn’t limping before their nap, it’s possible that the injury developed while they were sleeping, or the prolonged stillness aggravated it. Here are a few things that can cause your dog to limp after they’ve been laying down. 

If you suspect your dog has any of the following, contact your vet immediately. 

Bone Cancer

Osteosarcoma is a malignant tumor of the bone. The long bones are the most commonly affected areas in dogs. This cancer can be fatal in dogs, so talk with your vet immediately if you suspect your dog may have it. 

This type of cancer is very painful. If your dog has an osteosarcoma in their leg, it can lead to lameness or swelling. Your dog may be more lethargic, have less of an appetite, and be reluctant to walk or play. If they do walk or play, they will probably be limping due to pain.

In early stages, your dog may start limping after they’ve been docile due to stiffness. The limp may go away after a few steps. If you do notice a prolonged limp, check the affected leg for lumps or signs of swelling.  

ACL Injuries 

Every dog can tear their ACL (technically called a cranial cruciate ligament — CCL), big or small. Larger dogs are more likely to tear the ligament in their knee due to their weight, growth rate, and energy levels. This means that they’re more likely to aggravate the injury too when they get up. 

In this case, you’ll find that preventive care is essential. Braces from Doggy Brace are designed just for that purpose — to protect your dog’s leg from injury. It works just like a compression sleeve or a knee brace you see on athletes. The braces discourage your pet from making too tight or too quick movements, which is the leading cause for torn CCLs.

Hip Dysplasia Can Cause Limping 

Hip dysplasia is a heredity problem that becomes more noticeable with time. It’s the abnormal formation of the hip socket, so your dog’s leg doesn’t sit right. This can lead to lameness, arthritis, limping, and pain. If your dog is limping after laying down and you know they have hip dysplasia, this is the likely culprit. 

Just remember that if your dog suddenly starts limping and the lameness doesn’t go away after a few minutes, you should always contact your vet. It’s better to be safe than sorry! 

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