Is Your Dog Limping? Here's What it Means

Is Your Dog Limping? Here's What it Means

Author WDF Staff


Just like humans, dogs can start limping for various reasons. The main difference is - humans can tell you precisely what happened. Our furry friends, unfortunately, don’t have that ability, so it is mostly up to their owners to figure out what happened and answer the question, “Why is my dog limping?”

The best possible ally on your quest of discovering what kind of injury befell your dog is your vet. If you are anything like us, you will want to know a bit more about dog limping and why it happens. Well, here is what you should know and what the possible reasons for dog limping are.

What to do if you notice your dog limping?

Learning that our dogs are in pain is certainly not something we would consider pleasant. Limping is usually a sign of injury or pain, and if you noticed your dog limping, you need to answer a few questions;

  • How long is my dog limping?
  • How bad is my dog limping?
  • Are there other symptoms?

The main thing answering these questions will provide you is to know if this is a medical emergency. If it is, you should visit the vet immediately, and if it isn’t, you can call for advice and ask for an appointment. Here are the things you should keep an eye on that will help you answer these questions.

french bulldog laying

How long is my dog limping?

The time period of your dog limping can reveal potential injuries. Dogs can suddenly start limping, and in the next moment, they seem fine. Some can start limping, and the limping will stay with them and get progressively worse. There are two types of dog limping possible;

  • Chronic dog limping - Chronic dog limping means the dog is limping for at least 14 days. Some owners think the limp will go away after their dog rests, and some reported that the limp was barely noticeable, but now it is getting worse. Luckily, chronic dog limping is rarely an emergency, but call your vet and set up an appointment if the situation is not getting better.
  • Acute dog limping - Acute means your dog has a new issue, and they have just now started limping. That can mean different things, and you should answer the following two questions.

How bad is my dog limping?

Most chronic cases are bearable, and if your dog managed to endure the injury for at least two weeks, it is improbable that it will suddenly start feeling a lot worse. Mind you, this is not something that should be taken lightly; you should still make a vet appointment. According to PetMD, there are two main distinctions - mild and severe.

  • Mild limping - Mild dog limping can be defined as still using the leg, but the dog is not putting too much weight on it. It is not unreasonable to just let your dog take it easy for a couple of days. If the condition doesn’t improve, visit the vet.
  • Severe limping - Severe limping is pretty ominous and is more likely to be an emergency. This condition should be taken seriously, and you should seek the vet’s assistance fast.

The answer to the last question will let you know if you should rush to the pet ER or if you could wait and visit your regular vet.

Are there other symptoms?

The emergency and severity of the situation will be determined by other symptoms your dog can display. Other than limping, is your dog showing any of these symptoms;

  • Trembling
  • Hiding
  • Aggression
  • Refusing to move
  • Disorientation
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting

All of these can be worrying signs and indicate an emergency that needs to be resolved as soon as possible. There are other clear signs there is an emergency: swelling, dragging of the affected limb, visible fracture, and bleeding. It is better to be safe and call your vet to ensure your dog is not in grave danger.

So, why is my dog limping?

We have covered some basics dog owners should know. If you are familiar with the warning signs, you can react quickly and help your dog get out of trouble on time.

boxer puppy running

Dog limping can be caused by many different reasons. We can be sure that limping is caused by pain, and some of the reasons the dog is feeling pain and limping are;

  • Bone fractures
  • Ligament sprains or ruptures
  • Insect bites and stings
  • Muscle strains
  • Bruising
  • Wounds
  • Joint dislocations
  • Bacterial or fungal infections of soft tissues, bones, or joints
  • Inflammatory conditions
  • Developmental disorders
  • Stuck foreign material
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Tick-borne diseases (Lyme disease)
  • Torn nails
  • Degenerative joint disease (also known as osteoarthritis)
  • Paw pad trauma
  • Cancer affecting soft tissues, bones, or joints
  • Damage to or illness that affects the nervous system

Dog limping - back leg

If you notice your dog limping on the back leg, you can be pretty sure where the trauma occurred. Several specific issues cause dogs to limp on their back legs, and some of these reasons are;

Dog limping - front leg

Just like specific health issues affect a dog’s hind legs, some can cause a dog limping on the front leg or legs. If you notice your dog limping on the front leg, it could be because of one of these reasons;

Now you know what dog limping could mean, and you can clearly see many possible health concerns need to be addressed as soon as possible. Make sure you treat your furry friend as best as possible and help them get through the injuries and more challenging parts of their lives.

World Dog Finder team

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