Now, limping can be because of a lot of issues ranging from simple injuries to serious diseases like arthritis. These limps are also of different characteristics; some are subtle, whereas some are obvious with abnormal gaits.
But what to do when your dog’s limping frequently? Well, the first step is simple; examine your pupper and its injured leg. Even though the limping is not necessarily due to a visible injury, you’ll still have to check and use first aid if you notice any injury.
No matter what the situation is or the cause of limping is — taking professional advice from a veterinary doctor is always appreciated.
What’s the Cause Behind My Dog Limping?
There can be endless reasons behind your dog’s limping. But we’ve managed to categorize the most common reasons. Time for you to give them a good look:
Let’s be honest — dogs don’t wear shoes. So, if your dog moves around a lot, the chances of it stepping on something sharp like a piece of glass are quite high. Not just glass, there are a lot of sharp objects like thorns, sticks, or nails that can hurt your dog.
Another common injury is insect bites. Now, a bee sting generally hurts humans less but can cause a lot of issues if it stings your dog’s paw.
The worst part about these injuries is that they make the dog uncomfortable while walking, and the wound could lead to infection. Broken toenails, frostbite, bruising, and burns can also be a cause of lameness. If you notice your dog licking its paw frequently, then there’s a chance it got something stuck in its paw.
There are certain diseases that severely affect the legbones of your dog. If your dog is of a larger breed, there’s a chance it could develop radical bone diseases like panosteitis and osteodystrophy.
Moreover, if your dog’s having trouble walking, it can also be caused by a certain type of cancer called osteosarcoma. Although that’s a long shot, this type of cancer does affect bones, and you need to consult a doctor if you feel like something is wrong with the limp.
This is one of the most common causes of your dog limping. Joint diseases like osteoarthritis, elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, intervertebral disk disease, ligament disease, and osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) can all be responsible for your puppy’s limping.
Most of these diseases cause different grades of wear and tear on joints and inflicts serious pain. Lyme disease, another common infection, also causes limping and joint pain.
Now, two of the main joint diseases can be classified as arthritis and dysplasia- both being very serious and can lead to permanent lameness in dogs. Joint supplements often help in these cases, but we’d suggest you consult your nearby vet about the exact type of medication you should provide your doggo with.
Injury and Trauma
If your dog is limping all of a sudden, then the chances of it getting a simple injury instead of critical disease are quite high. A dog randomly getting hit by a car or injuring its front leg while running in a sports event is very common.
Like humans, dogs are also prone to many different leg injuries like fractures, broken bones, sprains, ligament tears, dislocations, joint trauma, etc.
If the injury is serious, the dog might have to walk on three feet for a while. If it’s an injury, then there’s no best medicine other than proper rest and care.
Another thing to notice is that if your puppy is limping, it could just be a minor injury; all you have to do is wait for a while (15 minutes max), calm the pup down, keep it still and see what happens.
There’s a chance that after 15 minutes, it will act alright and start moving normally. But if it doesn’t, then it’s bad news for you- you must take the dog to a vet!
Types of Limps in Dogs
Limps in dogs come in two different types. One is called the gradual onset, which means the limp has been happening gradually for a long while. The other is called sudden onset, which happens out of nowhere, maybe from a trauma or injury.
It’s important to know the difference between the two because your information will be very helpful for the vets to examine your doggo.
If your dog has been showing signs of limping for a while, and it has increased over time, then it’s a sign of gradual onset. It’s usually caused by an underlying, degenerative, or chronic condition like dysplasia or arthritis.
People often ignore gradual onset because the dog doesn’t hobble much, but it can be a sign of other serious diseases, including hip dysplasia or cancer- so you should get it checked as soon as you find it.
It’s a more common scenario where the dog is injured by something and is suddenly limping. There’s a chance you’ll find something stuck in the dog’s paw. Sometimes you will not find any object, but the injury is quite visible in most sudden onset cases. In such cases, going to the vet is a prerequisite.
How Should I Move My Injured Dog?
This is something many pet owners don’t take seriously — but they should. Before you take your injured dog to the vet, you have to be careful about moving it.
You don’t know the degree of injury per se, so you’ll have to be very delicate about moving it. A dog in pain is risky in all ways, as it can bite you as a means of self-protection. Even if it doesn’t, not knowing the right way to move it can make the wound even worse.
So, the first thing you should do? Use your personal car and lift the doggo inside it. Even if it can walk on its own, try not to put any pressure on its injured leg.
Use a blanket or a sheet under the dog and put some sort of board beneath the blanket as a makeshift stretcher. Try not to do it on your own- take help from another person while lifting and placing the dog.
What to Do If I See My Dog Limping?
If the dog’s limping, then the reasonable thing should be to consult a vet- but what if they’re not available? In such cases, and in situations where you feel like the injury is minor- you should know a few basics of treating a dog injury at home.
Examine the Injured Area
You can’t be sure about the type or severity of the injury if you can’t get a close look at the injured area. So, if the dog allows you, observe it from a close range. Look for spots the pupper is licking- that could be the injured spot.
Look for bruises, swelling, cuts, and unusual signs like these. Check the paw pad and toe areas for foreign objects or torn toenails. Be gentle around the joints and look for stiffness or tenderness. If you come across grinding, this could indicate a chance of arthritis.
Clean the Area Properly
After examining the injured spot, if you notice a minor wound, then you can clean it with lukewarm water and gentle soap. Don’t let your dog lick the wound because it can result in many infections.
Do not use alcohol on a dog’s wound, it doesn’t relieve them. If you wish, you can also apply antiseptic ointments only if they’re suggested by vets.
Apply Ice If Required
If you’ve noticed a minor swelling on your dog’s legs, then applying ice that’s wrapped in a clean cloth on the swollen area for 10 minutes can comfort your dog a lot.
However, be careful about it, as not all dogs might tolerate cold ice therapy. If it doesn’t work and the swelling continues even after a whole day- then a visit to the vet is a must.
Be Careful about Dislodging Stuck Objects
In many cases, you find your dog having a sharp object stuck in its legs. Now, we understand that you’ll feel sympathetic and would want to remove it with maybe, a tweezer- but here’s the catch. The dog will be in serious pain when you do it- and it could bite you out of self-defense.
But if it’s a very small object and your dog’s cooperating- then treat it like a small cut and clean the injured area afterward.
Healing Is the Best Medicine!
If you figure out that your dog’s limping isn’t as serious as it seemed, you should take advice on medications from the vet and take extra care of your pet. Try to make it comfortable and quiet. Don’t take the dog out to play in parks, don’t go for a run.
As a matter of fact, when injured, it’s best if your dog doesn’t jump or exercise at all. Don’t let it put any weight on the injured leg – even if that means confining it to a smaller space with a soft bed. You need to monitor it carefully, so if you notice the dog is still not back walking – take it to a vet immediately.
So, this was our take on what to do when you find limp in dogs. We hope the article was helpful enough for you. Best of luck to you and your doggo!
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