It can be worrying to see your dog limping around in your home and there are various reasons why they might start walking around uncomfortably. Luckily, there are steps you can take to help your puppy feel better and get back on its feet without the need to go to the vet. In this article, we discuss how to treat a limping dog at home, while answering other frequently asked questions.
Causes of Limping in Dogs
A dog’s limping can be a cause for concern in pet parents but there are many potential causes behind it. If you suspect your dog is hurting due to limping, look out for pain, tenderness, decreased activity, swelling, and a limited range of motion. Being unable to use a leg is also a common symptom of limping; below are some of the most common causes of why your dog might be limping.
Trauma or Injury
Your dog may suffer from trauma when any part of the body becomes injured such as joint dislocations, sprains, injuries to their spine, bone fractures, or a broken bone can be the cause of your dog’s limping. An injured leg, for example, can cause limping of various severity, which can range from moderate pain to severe pain. When your dog’s paw has wounds, burns, or frostbite, it may also hurt and make it lick that area or limp persistently.
Daily wear and tear on your dog’s musculoskeletal system as well as the joints may cause limping of the affected limb. Some of the most common reasons behind this include the following:
- Elbow dysplasia
- Hip dysplasia
- Intervertebral disk disease (IVDD)
As dogs get older, chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis will become more and more common, affecting the limbs or bones of the vertebrae and neck. Osteochondrosis dissecans is another medical condition that’s more likely to affect younger dogs and may cause abnormal development of cartilage. In smaller breeds, a luxating patella will be more common; affected breeds will exhibit limping caused by the kneecaps sliding in and out of the femur, resulting in joint pain.
These kinds of injuries include things such as sprains, broken bones, ligament injuries, and dislocations, among others. Muscle strains can cause painful limping in dogs, and in many cases, your pup may not be able to put any weight on its leg at all.
Foreign bodies such as nails, broken glass, thorns, or any sharp object that can get stuck or lodged in your pooch’s paws may cause discomfort and pain. Even walking for short distances can be uncomfortable, and if the foreign body isn’t removed, it may become infected.
Infections can be the result of an injury that hasn’t been given proper treatment and may lead to even more pain in your dog. Examples of common infections include the following:
- Skin infections such as abscesses, interdigital pyoderma, and pododermatitis
- Lyme disease is an infection that can be passed on through ticks, where limping will be a symptom.
When to See Your Vet
When it comes to your dog’s health, it’s essential to visit your vet regularly. It’s important for you to be aware of signs that could indicate your dog’s need for medical attention such as loss of appetite, limping, vomiting, pain, changes in behavior, and difficulty getting up. If you see anything out of the ordinary, be sure to make an appointment to get veterinary care as quickly as possible.
Once you notice limping in your pets, it’s crucial that you take it to your vet quickly, which will help to identify what caused it and start the right treatment plan. Depending on your dog’s needs, your vet could suggest anti-inflammatory medications, rest, massage, warm compress, acupuncture, hydrotherapy, physical therapy, diet adjustments, braces, or splinting.
Your veterinarian should be able to provide a physical examination of your dog, take an X-ray, and blood tests to suggest the best treatment option for your pooch. This may include a urinalysis, blood work, or imaging to help determine the underlying cause of its limping. Moreover, your vet might also suggest lifestyle changes, surgery, or counter medications to help provide pain control for your pup.
It’s essential that you follow your veterinarian’s instructions and stick to any recommended follow-up visits to make sure that your dog heals properly. If you can’t take your pup to the vet, there are a few at-home treatments you can give your pooch to speed up the healing process and reduce their discomfort. These include providing soft bedding, limiting your pup’s activity, and an ice pack to reduce swelling.
At-Home Treatment Options for Your Dog
At first sight of limping, it’s important that you take immediate action to help you determine the possible causes of their limp and get the appropriate treatment. The best way to do this is to look for signs of pain such as bruises, cuts, or swelling. If you find a swollen area, you can apply a cold compress over the area to help reduce pain and inflammation.
Should the limping be due to arthritis, you can give them some joint supplements packed with glucosamine to help improve their joint health and reduce inflammation. When their limping is caused by a pulled muscle or an injury, the best course of action to take is to give your pooch pain medications and wrap the area with bandages. This should help to keep the area stable and reduce swelling.
If the limping is the result of a sprain or strain, you might want to give your dog anti-inflammatory medications like ibuprofen to reduce the inflammation and pain. It’s also vital to know that limping could be a sign of a severe health problem, so be sure to get veterinary attention for your dog. Other ways to treat your pooch include heat or cold therapy on the affected leg, and keeping their nails trimmed.
To help your dog avoid limping, it’s best to give them regular exercise, regular vet check-ups, and a balanced diet; taking these steps may help to keep your pooch healthy and active. If you don’t see any visible signs of injury, do a thorough examination of your dog’s muscles and joints for pain and tenderness. When given the right treatment, your good boy will be back to normal in no time.
Transporting Your Injured Dog
When your dog has a sudden limp, it could be due to an illness or serious injuries. If your pooch is experiencing a lot of pain, be sure to take it to your vet as quickly as possible, but if it’s not in any pain, you can transport your puppy yourself. Just make sure that it is secure and comfortable; place your pooch on a clean towel or padded surface to keep it comfortable.
It’s a good idea to use a cart or stretcher for larger dogs, but make sure that it is fastened securely before moving them. Moreover, if you’re transporting your dog inside a vehicle, turn on the heating or air conditioning to increase their comfort. Talk to it with a calm and gentle voice to ease its pain, and provide it with plenty of reassurance for the journey.
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions that dog owners have when it comes to limping in dogs.
How Do I Treat a Limping Dog?
In most cases of limping, it’s best to contact your emergency vet clinic to give them emergency care. But in times of non-emergency, below are a few first-aid measures that you can perform on your dog to provide pain relief to the affected area.
- Confine your dog to help prevent further injury; try to keep it calm and off its feet. This means no jumping or running.
- If there’s a foreign object stuck in your dog’s paw pad, remove it gently and clean the wound with warm water. You can use antibacterial soap to clean it then apply an antibiotic ointment to dress the wound.
- If the cause of the limping is a bruise, sprain, or muscle issue, use an ice pack or cold compress for 15 minutes twice a day.
- Insect bites and bee stings may also cause swelling; to counter this, apply a paste made of water and baking soda along with an ice pack for 10 minutes. Some pups can be allergic to these injuries, so keep an eye on your pooch for signs of an allergic reaction.
- Never give your human medications to your dogs such as anti-inflammatories or painkillers.
When Should I Take a Limping Dog to the Vet?
If you see your dog limping, rush it to the vet to get the medical advice you need and to get it checked for the source of your dog’s pain. It doesn’t matter if your dog has a gradual onset or sudden onset of limping, it’s always better to seek treatment right away than to let things progress without help.
Caring for Your Limping Dog at Home
While it can be concerning and scary for you and your dog to experience any kind of limping, the most important thing is to take your pooch to the vet to give it the best care available. After getting help for your puppy, the next step is to make them feel comfortable by giving them a soft bed, and a few days of rest. During this time, make sure that you give your dog lots of attention and love, which will let them know that everything will be okay.