There are many different reasons why a dog may limp. If your dog has been limping, it’s best to contact your veterinarian who can best diagnose the problem. Some causes for limping include:
Your dog may be limping because of a laceration, puncture, or a foreign object irritating the paw. This makes it uncomfortable to walk and can lead to infection. Gently check your dog’s paws to determine the cause. Other causes for limping include broken toe nails, burns, frostbite and bruised paws. If your dog licks his paw incessantly, this can be a sign that they have something stuck in it. If you are unable to resolve the problem, check with your veterinarian.
Joint or Bone Disease
Often times wear and tear of the musculoskeletal system causes limping. Different types of joint disease such as Osteoarthritis, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, or Intervertebral disk disease can also be the reason for your dog’s limping. Ligament and tendon damage is also a common cause of limping, such as injury to the ACL or patella (knee). Bone inflammation, especially in young dogs, such as hypertrophic osteodystrophy and panosteitis, can make walking painful.
Infectious causes such as Lyme’s disease can cause polyarthritis which causes lameness in the joints due to inflammation.
Diagnosis and Treatment
If you notice your dog suddenly limping, initially check out your dog’s paws for something obvious. However, if the lameness persists for longer than a few minutes or if it re-occurs, it’s best to contact your vet and have them do a full check-up and possible diagnostics such as radiographs. In terms of treatment, your vet may recommend surgery, rest, or further testing depending on the severity of their case.
Have a question for Dr. Klein? Email him at CVO@akc.org