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

Dogs often limp if they are in pain. Our Charlotte vets list some of the causes of limping, what you can do to help your dog, and when to take your pup to your vet. 


How to Help a Limping Dog

Similar to people, dogs can suffer many health issues that lead to limping.

Unfortunately for dogs, they can’t use words to tell us what happened. As a caring pet owner, this means it will be your job to find a way to comfort your dog, then help them.

In this post, we'll review some common reasons your dog may be limping, when emergency care is needed and how you can assist your pet. 

Dog Limping, Charlotte Vets

Some Common Reasons for Limping

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

Is it an emergency?

Your dog will need emergency care if the following situations apply. If it is after-hours, contact your nearest emergency veterinary clinic for care.

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

What You Can Do

When you first notice any limping, try to rest your dog as best you can. You'll need to limit mobility, as any further strain can cause a more serious injury. Exercise should be put on hold 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.

Alternating between heat and ice packs might reduce swelling and discomfort. Consult with your vet's office 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.

In general, if the limp isn't severe, you can observe your dog's progress at home over 24-48 hours. 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 isn't resolving, is becoming worse, or is accompanied with whining or yelping, it's time to call your vet.

Ultimately, your veterinarian is best equipped to determine the cause and severity of your dog's pain. A thorough examination may include blood work, tick testing, and x-rays. Your dog's breed, history, age, and general health will be considered in the diagnosis, as well as the prescribed treatment plan.

Remember to never give any medication to your pets without consulting your vet first. Your vet will recommend any treatments you can do at home and will prescribe proper medication and dosage information for pain relief.

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.

Is your dog in pain from limping? Please contact our Charlotte vets today to schedule an appointment

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Providence Animal Hospital has been providing comprehensive veterinary care for your cherished pets in Charlotte since 1993.

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