Dogs may limp when they experience pain. In this article, our Vancouver veterinarians will discuss the causes of limping, how to help your dog, and when you should take your dog to the vet.

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 important 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

How can I help my limping dog?

If any of 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 

What You Can Do 

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.

To reduce swelling and discomfort, you can alternate between applying heat and ice packs. 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. 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 essential to identify the underlying cause before determining the appropriate treatment. Here are some common treatments for dog limping, along with additional rehabilitation services offered by our vets at Mountain View Veterinary Hospital :

  • 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.

At Mountain View Veterinary Hospital, we offer a range of rehabilitation services to complement traditional treatments for dog limping. These services include:

  • Acupuncture: Traditional Chinese medicine practice involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points on the body to relieve pain and enhance overall well-being.
  • Cold Laser Therapy: Non-invasive treatment option that encourages bone healing and reduces pain, swelling, and inflammation.
  • Nutritional Counseling: Dietary counseling and medically supervised exercise programs. 
  • Hydrotherapy Treadmill: Don't underestimate the healing power of water; our hydrotherapy treadmill can help your pup rehab comfortably.
  • Shock Wave Therapy:  Non-surgical treatment for painful conditions that don't respond well to more traditional treatment methods. 
  • Athletic Conditioning: Essential athletic conditioning services for competitive agility dogs, show dogs, and working dogs.
  • Manual Therapy: Just like humans, dogs can benefit from manual therapy through induced relaxation and reduced inflammation.
  • Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy:  PEMF improves healing in dogs and promotes blood circulation, allowing your pup to heal safely and naturally.
  • Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation: Our vets offer TENS as a non-invasive therapy to treat pain and inflammation.
At Mountain View Veterinary Hospital, we combine treatments and rehabilitation services to help dogs feel great and live healthier, happier lives, even after experiencing limping or other mobility issues.

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 Mountain View Veterinary Hospital today to book an appointment.