Dog limping.

When your pet is limping, it could be a symptom of practically anything. From a broken toenail to a broken leg, limping can mean something minor or something serious. So how do you know when to call the vet if your dog is limping? Follow a few simple rules to make sure your pet gets the care they need. 

Common Causes of Limping in Dogs

By understanding what might be causing a limp, you can better assess if something might be emergent or not. If you find yourself wondering “why is my dog limping,” consider the following common culprits:

  • Something stuck in a paw
  • Irritated paw(s)
  • A problem with a nail 
  • A soft tissue sprain or strain
  • Inflammation of a tendon or ligament
  • Inflammation or infection of a joint
  • Congenital joint problems
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Neurological problems
  • Cancerous process
  • Rupture of a tendon or ligament
  • Bone fracture
  • Joint dislocation

We can generally divide canine lamenesses into gradual onset versus sudden limping. More acute changes are more likely due to an injury of some kind, whereas more chronic limping tends to be associated with degenerative changes. 

When to Call

If your pet turns up with a mild limp, it is generally okay to give things some time before you panic. Resist the urge to give human medications, which could be toxic or harmful to your pet.

If things are more urgent, though, Bayside Animal Hospital is here to help. Contact us right away if your pet:

  • Seems to be in a lot of pain
  • Is shaking
  • Is lethargic
  • Has visible bleeding
  • Has a fever (anything over 102.5 F)
  • Is vocalizing
  • Wants to hide or has other behavior changes
  • Has an obviously broken bone or other injury
  • Is not bearing weight on the limb at all
  • Is dragging the limb
  • Is limping with no improvement within 24 hours

A limping dog is nothing to sniff at. Sometimes a quick physical examination can help us get to the bottom of things but other times we need diagnostics like radiographs (X-rays), blood tests, or advanced imaging to diagnose the problem. If your pet isn’t getting better, though, diagnosing the underlying issue is key to helping them. 

It is never wrong to have your pup checked out. If you think something is wrong, our staff is more than happy to take a look and be sure that there is nothing serious at play. When a pet is limping, they are generally in pain even if they are not yelling out. Our team is always here to help your pet feel better.