Dogs are resilient creatures – so when we see them limping in pain, we know something is wrong. While you may think a limp simply means a sprained muscle or broken bone, that’s not always the case. Here are 8 reasons your dog may be limping.
If you’ve ever suffered from a broken nail, you know painful they are. Well, the same goes for dogs – especially since they have to walk on them! If the pain is severe, the dog will begin to limp. A broken nail can be caused by a tear or if it gets caught on something. Keeping your pups nails trimmed is a great way to avoid a broken one, especially since broken nails can become infected.
A very common reason dogs limp is from torn pads. A torn pad can be caused by walking on rough terrain, walking too long on rough or hot surfaces – like dirt or sad – or making sharp turns. Active dogs tend to suffer from torn pads more often since they are on their paws more. If you notice a tear in your pups paw, consult your veterinarian.
A broken bone is a serious cause of limping. Some broken bones are severe enough that they are obvious but others – like small fractures – may go unnoticed. A symptom of a fracture or broken bone is lameness and limping. If you suspect your dog may have a broken bone or a fracture, contact your veterinarian immediately. If caught early, they typically heal properly.
A condition in some large breed dogs and puppies, Panosteitis (or Pano), occurs as these pups grow between the ages of 5 and 18 months. Although it’s cause is unknown, Pano is a type of bone inflammation that can last for several months – switching from one leg to the other. There is no treatment other than pain management. Common breeds that suffer from Pano are German Shepherds, Great Danes, Labrador Retrievers, and Golden Retrievers.
Elbow dysplasia may cause limping in one or both of the front legs. Some dogs may go their entire lives without any symptoms of elbow dysplasia but others may show symptoms early on. It can only be diagnosed by a veterinarian using a radiograph and they will prescribe treatment based on the severity.
Dogs that suffer from hip dysplasia may go their entire life without any pain but some may start to show signs of limping at an early age. This disease can only be diagnosed by a veterinarian using a radiograph and they will offer treatment options depending on the severity.
Muscle Tear or Sprain
Another common cause of limping is a CCL tear. A CCL tear is a “tear in a cranial cruciate ligament that attaches the femur to the tibia.” A CCL tear is quite common and is typically found in overweight dogs that play and chase other dogs or toys. Canine athletes are also at risk. Similar to ACL tears in people, CCL tears are extremely serious and painful and require immediate veterinarian attention.
One of the more serious causes of limping is bone cancer, or osteosarcoma. These tumors can be extremely painful growths and may even be too small see without a radiograph. Veterinary care is extremely important as this type of cancer spreads quickly. A loss of the limb is a common result of bone cancer.
If you suspect your dog is suffering from any of these, contact your veterinarian immediately.