Limping is one of the most common reasons owners bring their dogs into the vet. In this post, our White Hall experts at Hunter's Animal Hospital share some reasons why your pup might be limping and how you can help them.
It can be frustrating and scary when your dog starts to limp because owners don't always know what is causing it. More often than not, you didn't see them fall off the couch or step on something sharp in the backyard. Our White Hall vets are here to help, sharing some possible causes for your dog's limp and the best course of action for owners to take.
Why is my dog limping?
Your dog's limping may be caused by a minor foreign object causing discomfort, so you could start by taking a gentle and careful look at their paw. If your pup isn't resisting due to pain, try to peek between their toes to see if there is a small stone or bug bite lodged there.
If you're still unsure of the cause, here are some of the most common reasons your dog could be limping:
- Insect bite or sting
- Infectious diseases, such as Lyme
- Strains or tears (ligaments, tendons, muscles)
- Something painful stuck in their paw
- Trauma, such as broken bones
- Inflammatory conditions
- Vascular conditions
Do I need to head straight to the vet?
It isn't always critical to bring your pup into the vet, but it is important to make the distinction between whether or not there could be underlying health issues to your dog's limp. If any of the following apply to your dog, contact your vet right away!
- Limbs that feel hot to the touch
- Any moderate to severe swelling
- A broken limb (will be at an irregular angle)
- A dangling limb (this indicates dislocation)
- Limping in combination with a fever
How can I help my limping dog?
As soon as you notice your dog limping, get them to rest as much as possible. You will need to limit their mobility, since any further strain may cause serious injury until the issue is diagnosed by a vet. The exercise and running routines should be put on hold until they heal, and when you do take them outside for bathroom breaks, make sure they are leashed at all times to minimize risk of further injury.
Examine your pup's foot for signs of bleeding or injury, such as cuts, bug bites or lodged debris. Contact your vet if you notice something painful.
If you notice swelling or inflammation that could be causing the limp (compare the injured paw to the size and color of other paws to tell), try alternating between heat and ice packs to reduce discomfort. Contact your vet for recommendations on which to apply and when.
Typically, if the limp is not severe, you can monitor your pooch for the next 24 to 48 hours to see if the condition gets better or worse. If they remain the exact same after this time period, take them to the vet.
In the majority of cases, it's better to be safe than sorry and scheduling an appointment with your vet may be able to help your dog and you feel better. If your pup's limp doesn't resolve itself or becomes worse, it's time to call your vet or visit an emergency pet hospital.
Your veterinarian has the training and knowledge to best determine the cause and severity of your pup's pain. A thorough examination may include blood work, tick testing, or x-rays. Your dog's breed, history, age, and general health will all be considered in the diagnosis, as well as the prescribed treatment plan.
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.