Limping is one of the most common reasons why pet parents bring their dogs in to see our Rock Hill emergency vets. In today's blog we look at the reasons why dogs limp, how you can help your limping dog, and when it's time to see your vet.
As with people, dogs can suffer from countless issues that lead to limping. The trouble is that unlike people, dogs just aren't able to tell us what happened or how painful their issue is. That means it's up to us humans to try and figure out what is causing your dog's discomfort and how you can help.
Why Your Dog May Be Limping
Something minor like a small stone caught between their toes could be the cause of your pup's limping, or limping could be an indication of a serious health issue. Some of the most common reasons for limping in dogs are:
- Something painful stuck in their paw
- Insect bite or sting
- Strains or tears (ligaments, tendons, muscles)
- Trauma, such as broken bones
- Infectious diseases, such as Lyme
- Inflammatory conditions
- Vascular conditions
When To See a Veterinarian About Limping
Although it's not always necessary to head straight to the vet if your dog is limping, there are some cases when a vet appointment is essential for your canine companion. If any of the following apply to your dog it's time to contact your primary care vet or your nearest emergency veterinarian clinic for care.
- A broken limb (will be at an irregular angle)
- A dangling limb (this indicates dislocation)
- Any moderate to severe swelling
- Limbs that feel hot to the touch
- Limping in combination with a fever
How to Help Your Limping Dog
When the limping first begins encourage your pup to rest. You'll need to limit mobility, as any further strain can cause a more serious injury. Exercise should be restricted until your dog has healed, and you should leash your pet to walk them outside for bathroom breaks as they may try to run if let out into the yard.
Take a close look at your pup's foot for signs of injury, such as cuts. Contact your vet if you notice something painful.
If you believe that your dog's limp is caused by inflammation, try alternating between heat and ice packs as a way to help reduce swelling and discomfort. Contact your vet for recommendations on which to apply and when.
Check for bleeding. This will usually provide insight into whether your dog has suffered an injury, puncture, or bite.
If the limp isn't severe, it's probably safe to monitor your dog's progress at home over the next 24-48 hours, watching for more symptoms or to see whether the limp becomes more pronounced (or perhaps even get's better).
That said, in most cases it's better to be safe than sorry, and scheduling an appointment with your vet may help both you and your dog to feel better. If the limp doesn't begin to resolve itself, is becoming worse, or is accompanied by whining or yelping, it's time to call your vet or visit your nearest emergency animal hospital.
Your vet has the training and knowledge to best determine the cause and severity of your canine companion's pain. A comprehensive examination may include blood work, tick testing, or x-rays. Your dog's breed, history, age, and general health will all be considered in the diagnosis, as well as the prescribed treatment plan.Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.