Possible Explanations for Limping in Dogs

Dog limping.

Limping in dogs can be linked to various types of acute injuries, but any disruption to a dog’s normal walk, whether gradual or intermittent, can be deeply concerning (especially if it’s painful or negatively impacting daily activities). 

Limping in dogs should be assessed promptly. We can help you determine the cause of this symptom, reduce pain, and promote mobility, flexibility, and overall health.

Fine One Minute, Not the Next

Limping on dogs can come out of the blue. Indeed, some dogs will behave and appear absolutely normal one minute and then suddenly display a reluctance to place any pressure on one foot or leg. 

A cursory inspection of their paw pads, skin, and skeletal structure may reveal a skin injury, such as a bite/sting, cut, or something stuck in the foot (like a puncturevine, fish hook, or sharp rock). But in the absence of a physical wound, it can be very confusing to understand the root of limping. You can alternate heat and ice on the injury site, and wait for inflammation/swelling to improve. However, if symptoms persist beyond a full day, it is worth it to have your dog examined.  

What’s Up, Buddy?

Traumatic injury, like a broken bone or bleeding wound, should be treated with emergency veterinary care. If you suspect a strain or tear to the muscle, ligament, or tendon, your dog will benefit from an urgent care appointment. 

Other causes of limping in dogs include osteoarthritis, infectious disease (including Lyme disease), inflammation, and various vascular conditions. Limping in dogs is a common side effect of the following medical conditions:

  • Cranial cruciate ligament tear
  • Carpal hyperextension
  • Luxating patella

We recommend scheduling an appointment for your dog if they start limping all of a sudden, or display intermittently limping between certain activities. We can help you figure out the cause of limping, and develop a treatment plan.

We take into account your dog’s age, breed, and lifestyle to round out our approach to care. 

Limping in Dogs

If you notice that your dog’s leg feels hot to the touch and they are running a fever, please bring them in right away. Advanced diagnostics such as bloodwork, Lyme testing, and X-rays can help us figure out the root of the problem. 

Rest is the key to reducing limping in dogs for most causes. You can prevent further injury or pain by reducing their movement as much as possible. Keep them on leash until they’re healed, and minimize how much they run and jump. 

If you have questions about your dog’s appearance or behavior, please give us a call at (916) 737-5670. Our team at East Sacramento Veterinary Center is always here to help.