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Why is my dog limping & how can I help them?

Dog limping can be a common yet concerning issue for pet owners. Understanding the potential causes and knowing when to seek veterinary care can help ensure your furry friend stays healthy and happy. In this blog, our vets in Monterey Park will discuss common reasons for dog limping, frequent leg injuries, and breed-specific problems and provide guidelines on when to seek professional help.

Why is my dog limping?

Dogs, like humans, can suffer from various health issues that may cause them to limp. The problem is that our furry friends cannot communicate with words to let us know what happened.

Therefore, as a responsible pet owner, it is essential to find ways to comfort and assist your dog and seek treatment for its limp as needed.

In this regard, we will discuss some common reasons that may cause your dog to limp, when you should seek emergency care, and how to help your pet. So, what are some common reasons for limping in dogs?

  • Vascular conditions
  • Insect sting or bite
  • Inflammatory conditions
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Infectious diseases, such as Lyme
  • Trauma, such as broken bones
  • Tears or strains (muscles, ligaments, tendons)
  • Something painful stuck in their paw 

When to Seek Emergency Vet Care

If the following circumstances apply, your dog will require emergency care. If it is after-hours, contact your nearest emergency veterinary clinic for care. 

  • A broken limb (will be at an irregular angle) 
  • Limbs that feel hot to the touch 
  • Any moderate to severe swelling 
  • A dangling limb (which indicates dislocation)
  • Limping in conjunction with a fever 

Breed-Specific Problems

Certain breeds are more prone to specific leg and paw issues, leading to limping:

  • Labradors and Golden Retrievers: These breeds are susceptible to hip dysplasia and cruciate ligament injuries.
  • Dachshunds: Their long backs make them prone to intervertebral disc disease, which can cause limping and back pain.
  • Chihuahuas and Pomeranians: Small breeds like these often suffer from the luxating patella.
  • German Shepherds: This breed is commonly affected by hip and elbow dysplasia, leading to limping.

How can I help my limping dog?

If you notice your dog limping, it's essential to rest him as much as possible. Further strain can worsen the injury, so avoid any activity that could cause additional harm. It's best to hold exercise until your dog fully recovers. When you take your dog outside for bathroom breaks, ensure you leash him to prevent him from running around.

You can alternate between applying heat and ice packs to reduce swelling and discomfort. Consult your vet to determine the best option and when to use it.

Check for bleeding to understand whether your dog has suffered an injury, puncture, or bite.

If the limp is not severe, you can observe your dog's progress at home over the next 24 to 48 hours. However, it's best to be safe rather than sorry, so scheduling an appointment with your vet is advisable. If the limp is not resolving, is getting worse, or is accompanied by whining or yelping, it's time to contact your vet.

Your veterinarian is the best person to determine the cause and severity of your dog's pain. They will evaluate your dog's breed, history, age, and general health to make a diagnosis and develop a treatment plan. As well as a thorough physical examination and diagnostic test, including blood work, tick testing, and X-rays.

Never give your pet any medication without consulting your vet first. Your vet will recommend treatment options you can do at home and prescribe proper medication and dosage information for pain relief.

What are the treatments for dog limping?

When a dog is limping, it's crucial to identify the underlying cause before determining the appropriate treatment. Here are some typical dog limping treatments and additional rehabilitation services to help your dog.

  • Rest: Allow the dog to rest and avoid strenuous activity to prevent further injury.
  • Ice or Heat Therapy: Applying ice packs or warm compresses can help reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
  • Pain management: Prescription pain medications may be recommended by a veterinarian to alleviate discomfort.
  • Therapeutic exercises: Rehabilitation exercises and techniques such as stretching, massage, and hydrotherapy can improve muscle strength, flexibility, and mobility.
  • Orthopedic devices: Braces, splints, or orthopedic boots may be used to support and stabilize the affected limb.
  • Surgery: In cases of severe injury or conditions like torn ligaments or fractures, surgical intervention may be necessary to repair the damage.
  • Cold Laser Therapy: Non-invasive treatment that encourages bone healing and reduces pain, swelling, and inflammation.

Dog limping can indicate various underlying issues, from minor injuries to severe conditions. Understanding the common causes and knowing when to seek veterinary care can help ensure your dog receives the appropriate treatment and care.

If you're ever in doubt, consult your veterinarian to address concerns about your dog's health and well-being.  

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. Please make an appointment with your vet to accurately diagnose your pet's condition.

Has your dog been limping and experiencing pain? Please contact Veterinary Healthcare Center today to book an appointment.

New Patients Welcome

Veterinary Healthcare Center is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Monterey Park companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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Contact (323) 890-9000