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Dog Limping: Why is My Dog Limping & How to Help

Limping is a common sign of pain in dogs. Our veterinarians in Redmond explain why your dog may be limping, what you can do to help your dog, and when a vet appointment is needed.

Why is my dog limping?

There are numerous reasons why your dog may be limping. Unlike people, dogs can't communicate how they are feeling or why they are limping. It's up to you to figure out the cause of your dog's limping and determine if your pet needs veterinary care.

Here are some common reasons dogs limp and more serious causes requiring urgent veterinary attention.

Common Reasons For Limping In Dogs

  • Something painful stuck in one of their paws
  • An insect bite or sting on a leg or foot
  • Strains or tears (ligaments, tendons, muscles)
  • Trauma, such as broken bones
  • Osteoarthritis joint pain in hips, legs, or feet
  • Infectious diseases, such as Lyme disease
  • Inflammatory conditions
  • Vascular conditions such as aortic thromboembolism

Veterinary Emergencies 

The following situations require urgent emergency care for your dog. If your veterinary emergency occurs outside of standard vet hours, take your dog to the nearest emergency animal hospital to receive the critical care it requires.

  • 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
  • Sudden paralysis and pain in the rear legs

How to Help a Limping Dog

Seeing your dog limp can be distressing, and it's important to address the issue promptly to ensure your furry friend gets the care they need. Here are some steps to help a limping dog:

  1. Assess the situation: First, determine the severity of the limp. Observe your dog's behavior and try to identify which leg is affected. Look for signs of pain, such as whining, reluctance to move, or licking the affected area.
  2. Examine the leg & paw: Gently examine your dog's leg and paw. Check for any obvious signs of injury, such as cuts, swelling, or foreign objects like thorns or splinters. Be careful not to press too hard, which can cause additional pain.
  3. Restrict movement: If your dog is limping, limit its movement to prevent further injury. Keep it confined, and avoid letting it run or jump. Use a leash when taking it outside for bathroom breaks.
  4. Apply first aid: For minor injuries: If you find a small cut or abrasion, clean it with mild antiseptic and apply a bandage if necessary. Keep an eye on it for signs of infection. If there's swelling or bruising, apply a cold compress to the affected area to reduce swelling. Wrap ice in a towel and hold it against the limb for 10-15 minutes.
  5. Provide comfort & support: Provide your dog with a soft bed or blanket to rest on. Offer gentle reassurance and keep your dog calm to avoid further stress.
  6. Monitor for improvement: Observe your dog's condition over the next 24-48 hours. If the limp is mild and your dog seems to be improving, restrict its activity until it is fully recovered.
  7. Consult your veterinarian: If the limp persists for more than 24-48 hours, worsens, or if your dog shows signs of severe pain, it’s essential to seek veterinary care. A veterinarian can conduct a thorough examination, possibly including X-rays, to diagnose the underlying issue and recommend appropriate treatment.
  8. Follow treatment recommendations: Depending on the diagnosis, your veterinarian may prescribe medication for pain and inflammation, recommend physical therapy, or advise on other treatments like rest or surgery. Follow their instructions closely to ensure a full recovery.
  9. Prevent future injuries. To prevent future limping, maintain your dog's overall health with regular exercise, a balanced diet, and routine check-ups. Monitor your dog's activity to avoid injuries and ensure its living environment is safe and free from hazards.
These steps can help your limping dog recover and return to its happy, active self. Timely intervention and proper care are key to ensuring your dog's health and well-being.

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.

If your dog is limping, contact our Redmond vets immediately. Our compassionate vets are here to help your pet feel better.

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Cinder Rock Veterinary Clinic is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Redmond companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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