Why is your dog limping? Just like humans, dogs will avoid using a leg if something is hurting the limp or their hips, or back. Limping can be sudden, such as from an injury or trauma, or gradually occur over time due to old age, dysplasia or a degenerative condition.
Let’s go over some of the things that can cause your dog to avoid putting weight on one of their legs.
Why is my Dog Limping?
1. General Soreness
Just like humans, a dog’s body can get tired from overexertion and get sore. If you ever rolled your ankle or overdid a stretch while exercising, you’ll know painful it can feel the next day. Your dog can get the same way after a long day of running, playing or competing.
Your dog could have also be limping due to general soreness is typically mild and does not require vet care. Let your pooch rest and make sure you give them plenty of love.
2. Spinal Cord or Disk Problems
Some spinal cord problems, such as a bulging or ruptured disk can result in your dog limping. These issues can cause major health concerns if they get worse, such as paralysis.
Degenerative Myelopathy is a progressive spinal cord disease that usually occurs in older dogs. Initial symptoms include weakness and limping, but the disease can eventually progress to paralysis.
Some breeds, such as dachshunds, are more prone to spine problems. Treatment can vary, but it usually starts with pain management and observation.
3. Your Dog Tore its CCL
A dog’s cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) is similar to a human’s anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). It connects the bones together in your dog’s legs. Only a vet can tell if your dog is limping due to a torn CCL.
These injuries do not heal on their own, though scar tissue will form to stabilize the limb with time. These injuries are painful and expensive for your dog – they can cost up to nearly $1,500 – $4,000. Your dog will need several months of physical therapy and you will need to monitor their activity.
Labradors, Newfoundlands, Rottweilers, Golden Retrievers are more at risk for tearing their CCLs.
4. Hip Dysplasia in Dogs
Canine hip dysplasia is an abnormal formation of the hip socket that can lead to arthritis or lameness.
Hip dysplasia is often hereditary and very common in Great Danes, Saint Bernards, Labrador Retrievers, and German Shepherds.
It can be worsened by a few key factors such as weight, growth rate, and exercise, according to the American Kennel Club.
5. Dog Arthritis
More common in older dogs, arthritis can cause your dog to limp. If your dog’s run changes or you notice them babying one leg, this could be arthritis within that leg beginning to worsen. While there is no cure for arthritis, there are things you can do to help ease your dog’s pain. Read on for treatment options.
How To Manage Your Dog’s Limp
Taking your dog to the vet for a proper diagnosis for their chronic limp is key to helping them. Your vet will be able to determine if the limp is caused by a torn CCL, old age, overexertion, or something worse.
Make sure you observe your dog’s movements and take care to notice how bad their limp is. Watch them walk and pick out which leg is giving them trouble. Establish a time frame too. Note when you first noticed the limp and if it came on gradually or if it was sudden.
If your dog is in extreme pain, do not attempt to examine them before you take them to the vet. Keep an eye on them and let them rest. Only a vet should touch the injured leg. You doing so could cause more harm or pain to your pet.
If you’re worried about a break, don’t try to touch the leg. Simply observe your dog’s movements. Most dogs will not walk on a broken leg or dislocated joint.
If you believe the limp is caused by an outside source, such as a cut, you may carefully and gently examine you dog. Have a family member or someone your dog trusts restrain them as you gently look between your dog’s toes for a foreign object, check their paw pad, and look for broken nails.
If your dog’s leg is swelling due to a sprain, bruise or tendonitis, apply an ice pack to the area for 15 minutes. This should be done twice daily.
As they rest or begin treatment, keep an eye on the limp to see if it is getting better or worse.
If you want to be proactive about your pet’s health or want to support them while they recover, dog leg braces can help. A leg brace helps take weight off the injured limb while comfortably supporting your pup and restricting movement. Doggy Brace’s sizing chart allows you to accurately choose the best fitting brace for your dog.
For more information on braces, check out Doggy Brace today.