Limping dog: causes, symptoms and treatments
A dog’s sudden lameness could be a wake-up call for some important physical problems, so it is a good idea to identify the causes.
It can happen that your dog suddenly lifts its paw, walking with difficulty or limping. Just as with humans, the quadruped can fall victim to bumps, sprains and fractures: conditions of physical discomfort that cause them to limp. The situation may hide several pitfalls, reveal serious medical problems or a simple sprain, but for the well-being of the dog it is necessary to check the type of discomfort, perhaps taking him to the vet for a visit.
In order to understand the dog’s state of mind, it is necessary to identify the limb he is limping with, observing the type of walking and the type of balance of the body. If the affected paw is in the front, the friend will raise his head every time the weight is shifted to this, lowering it again when balancing the movement with the healthy limb. Conversely, if the offended leg is one of the hind legs – or both – he will tend to lower the part, shifting the weight forward. In some cases the friend may complain and whine, confirming the discomfort and the presence of pain.
The dog may limp for several reasons, among the most classic we can identify a sprained or strained, the presence of a foreign body between the fingers or between the pads, such as a nail, a splinter or a thorn. The leg could have a wound, graze, a nerve injury, an internal infection, an insect bite or sting, up to the reaction to the vaccine.
Among the most worrying conditions it may limp due to even mild trauma, followed by a more dangerous condition such as a ruptured ligament, a broken bone, hip dysplasia, bone cancer, metastasis, chronic back problems, bone growth problems, up to osteoarthritis.
Diagnosis and testing
When the first symptoms appear, the dog should be taken to the vet for a thorough examination, to be carried out by X-ray, manipulation of the paw itself, CT scan or MRI. The doctor may also ask how long your dog has been limping, what causes and factors may have favoured the symptom and whether the condition worsens due to particular events, such as running or training or strange positions. For a complete diagnosis, your doctor will also take into account your dog’s medical history, age and any ongoing medical conditions, and will also check your dog’s temperature, respiratory rate and heart rate.
Treatments and Remedies
Depending on the outcome of the examination, the doctor may prescribe a number of remedies, starting with the simplest ones to relieve pain such as ice packs or cold water, particularly if the condition is mild. He may suggest some rest and a cycle of painkillers, if necessary supplements and a diet to lose weight. In case of infection your doctor will recommend antibiotics, while for more serious problems he will suggest a specific treatment, including surgery. The expert will offer all the support necessary to improve the health condition of the dog and the most suitable methods for a gradual, healthy and peaceful recovery.