My dog is limping! What should I do? Limping is a very common dog injury symptom and as caretakers, we are often left wondering what to do. Is it serious? Should we go to the vet? Will limping go away on its own?
Unfortunately, the answer to all questions about how to treat a dog’s limp is that it depends. Sometimes limping will go away on its own, especially if you provide some at-home support like a brace. Other times limping may be a sign of a more serious injury or condition that will require veterinary intervention.
Recognizing a Limp
A limp is caused by a dog favoring one leg over another. The injured leg, or the leg experiencing pain, is the leg the dog will avoid putting pressure on. When a dog is limping, it will increase pressure on the uninjured leg, which could potentially cause an injury to the favored leg, so it’s important to pay attention to both legs.
- Gradual limps – Gradual onset limps develop more slowly over time and are usually a symptom of an underlying chronic condition or disease such as arthritis or hip dysplasia.
- Sudden limps – Sudden onset limps are typically an immediate result of an injury. For example, a sudden limp may occur after a tumble while hiking or rambunctious play.
Determining whether the limp is gradual or sudden and which leg your dog is limping on can help a veterinarian diagnose the cause and potential solutions or support options.
Dog Limping on Back Leg
A hind leg or rear leg limp can be caused by several conditions or injuries. Limping is a common symptom for arthritis and hip dysplasia.
Ortho Dog’s Hip Hound Braces are designed for dogs who suffer from arthritis, mild to moderate hip dysplasia, decreased endurance during activity, hip pain, lower back pain or weakness, and back leg limping.
Limping on the back leg can also be a result of arthritis in the knee joint or a tear of a CCL, the dog equivalent of an ACL. CCL tears are one of the most common dog injuries, and Ortho Dog offers a Cruciate Care Knee Brace to support dogs recovering from a mild tear or as a post-surgery support aid.
- Additional at-home remedies for dogs with arthritis.
- Note that limping is not the same as full-on collapsing of hind legs.
- About hip dysplasia.
Dog Limping on Front Leg
Front leg limping is also caused by a host of conditions and injuries. Limping is a symptom of canine carpal extension, as well as everyday sprains and strains to the wrist or hock, the dog’s version of an ankle. Other hock injuries that result in limping include arthritis or dislocation.
Braces are also available to support front leg limping affecting the wrist or hock.
When to See a Vet
It can be difficult to determine the cause of limping unless the limping was caused by an injury you witnessed. If your pup has experienced acute trauma, seek medical attention immediately. If your dog has a sudden limp after exercise or an outing and the limping is mild, you may be able to simply monitor your dog over a day or two to see if the limp improves. If the limping does not improve or is in conjunction with other symptoms, it’s best to consult your veterinarian. Likewise, while dog braces and supplements can help the symptoms of long-term chronic conditions like arthritis and hip dysplasia, it’s best to consult with your vet for a full course of action.