If your beloved pooch was leaping over bushes and chasing the neighbour’s cat yesterday but is limping around the house miserably today, you need to get to the bottom of the problem. When a dog doesn’t want to put weight on a paw or leg, the issue may be as minor as a small thorn in its paw or as significant as a severe injury. You need to know the common reasons why dogs limp, so you know the symptoms to look for and when a vet visit is necessary.
Let’s take a look at 8 common reasons why dogs can develop a limp:
The pads on your dog’s feet are tough, but thorns, glass, pieces of metal and other debris can penetrate the paws. If the object is small – like a thorn, for example – you can remove it with tweezers, clean the area and see how your dog recovers. In summer, grass seeds can get stuck in the foot and are difficult to see. They can migrate through the body and cause infection so it is important to see a vet if you suspect your dog has a grass seed in their paw.
Any cuts on the paw should also be seen by a vet to prevent further damage and infection.
If you ran 5km with your dog or played a vigorous game of fetch, your furry friend may be tired or have overstretched a muscle. It should recover by the next day. If your dog seems stiff a few days after the exercise, you should see a vet as it may be a sign of more serious joint or muscle issues.
When a dog doesn’t walk on abrasive surfaces such as pavements and cement regularly, the claws don’t get worn down. They may be digging into your dog’s skin, which is very painful. Keep your dog’s nails trimmed and walk them regularly to prevent this.
Dogs can break bones in a number of ways, and the break may not be visible to the untrained eye. If you can’t spot any apparent cause for your dog’s unwillingness to put weight on a leg or paw, there could be a small fracture or break – or even a torn muscle – which your vet will be able to diagnose.
Just like humans, dogs bones weaken as they age, and their muscles become stiff. Get your old friend checked by your vet for osteoarthritis and if necessary, change to a dog food designed to boost bone and joint health. Supplements may also help.
Dogs can often experience a medial luxating patella, which is caused by the kneecap becoming loose in the groove and then displaced altogether. This can lead to an ACL rupture. When the knee is partially or completely torn, or the cap is dislodged, it can cause pain and discomfort for your dog. They may be less likely to use a certain leg or “bunny hop” (stepping with both back legs at the same time) whilst walking. Genetic disposition of certain breeds, age and obesity can cause your dogs’ ACL to rupture.
Hip and elbow dysplasia – which causes joints to weaken and dislocate – can cause your dog to limp. Larger breeds like St Bernard, Great Dane, Mastiff, Rottweiler and Golden Retriever are particularly prone to dysplasia, although genetics also leave Pugs, Bulldogs and some other small breeds vulnerable. Limping as well as struggling to lie down and get up are a sign of dysplasia.
Caused by an infection in the limbs, Panosteitis usually affects large-breed puppies between the ages of 5 and 12 months. It may alternate between different legs and can last several months. Your puppy will most likely grow out of it by the time it turns two but it is best to see a vet to make sure it is healing well and to manage any pain your dog may be experiencing.
No matter its age, if your dog is limping, it’s best to visit the vet right away before the problem gets worse. The vets at South Eastern Animal Hospital can be trusted to give your animals the finest care at a price you can afford. Book an appointment with one of our vets today.