There are many reasons why your dog may be limping and doesn’t seem to be in pain. But How do you actually know if they’re in pain or not? A dog can’t speak like humans can, so they communicate with us a little differently. They may limp without whining, or still have the same playful energy they always do, but not move as quickly.
So before you write off their limp as something that you shouldn’t be concerned about, you should get to the root of the following two questions: is my dog actually in pain and what do I know about limping?
How Do You Know if Your Dog is in Pain?
If your dog isn’t feeling right, they have their own way of letting you know. They can whine and howl, or stay silent and try to show you that they don’t feel quite right. Keep an eye out for any unusual behavior, like biting, snapping, licking a certain area on their body obsessively, pulling out their fur, changes in their posture or breathing, and more.
Here at Doggy Brace, we have a whole blog dedicated to signs to look for to know if your dog is in pain. Check that out before assuming they’re okay!
Myths about Limping
If a human starts limping or hurts their arm from a minor pain, they immediately think they pulled something. But that isn’t true, even in dogs. A pulled muscle very rarely causes a limp. A limp is always a cause of concern and you should contact your vet if you can’t get to the root of the problem.
A limp may go away on its own
If there is a foreign object stuck in your dog’s paw or an open wound, then your dog will stop limping once it is healed. However, there could be underlying issues that are causing the limp.
Limping Isn’t a Cause for Concern
The third myth is that limping is not a big deal. Limping should be treated as a medical problem. Allowing your dog to limp for prolonged periods of time is actually bad for them! It can lead to arthritis, a torn ACL due to the extra weight on their back leg, sprains, or other injuries.
Pain Meds Help With Limping
Pain meds treat the pain association from whatever is causing the limp, but they do not treat the limp itself.
Things That May Cause Limping, But Not Pain
Before we get into why your dog may be limping, but doesn’t seem to be in pain, remember that every dog is different. Like humans, dogs may have a higher or lower pain tolerance. They could feel uncomfortable, but may not feel the need to show it in a huge outward display.
Always be sure to contact your vet, just in case.
So what may cause limping?
Arthritis simply means ‘inflammation of the joints’ and is a common problem for many dogs, especially senior dogs.
Common arthritis joint symptoms include:
- Decreased range of motion.
Symptoms may come and go. They can be mild, moderate or severe. They can also stay about the same for years but can progress or get worse over time, so if your dog is not in pain now, they may be in a year or two.
Severe and untreated arthritis can lead to chronic pain, the inability to do daily activities, and make it difficult for your dog to walk or climb stairs.
Early Onset Arthritis
Though arthritis is more common in older dogs, it is possible for younger pups to develop it. Arthritis tends to form after bone and joint developments, or injury.
But in most cases, arthritis develops from abnormal rubbing within the joint caused by joint instability from ligament damage (like a torn CCL/ACL), damage to or abnormal cartilage development, or fractures or breaks.
It can also develop in overweight pups or those that are not in shape.
Minor Leg or Knee Injuries
Some minor injuries can lead to limping without pain, such as a minor tear to their ACL, minor patella luxation, or minor sprains.
Medically speaking, sprains harm the ligaments that connect bones. This can lead to joint damage if not properly taken care of. Sprains are common and can happen when your dog is jumping, running, or steps wrong (like if they stumble into a hole). They can happen to your dog’s knees, wrists/ankles, and hips.
A mild sprain does not affect the ability of the knee to support the limb, but it may cause your dog to limp and avoid putting weight on their leg.
This is where a brace will be optimal. Doggy Brace is designed for preventive care and recovery from sprained ACLs. It provides support while minimizing movement to prevent further injury. For more information on how a brace works, check out Doggy Brace’s information page on Dog ACL Braces.
As always, talk with your vet if you notice a limp! It doesn’t matter if they’re in pain or not — you should always take action if you notice your dog is limping.