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All About Limping in Dogs | Causes & Home Treatment

Dogs can have multiple injuries, diseases, illnesses, and trauma like any other animal. If you are a pet parent and have just noticed that your dog has started limping, there must be a reason. In the following article, we will be discussing what a limp is. How to figure out your dog is limping and its cause, followed by some simple solutions that might get your dog running again in no time.

What is limping? Limping is an abnormal asymmetric walk. In a limp, one might favor one leg over the other due to the reason that is causing the limp. A limp allows your dog to walk awkwardly with difficulty transferring its body weight between the legs to ease the limp. The first step is to locate the limp. There can be a hind leg limp or a foreleg limp. A dog limping back leg shifts its body weight to the front, lowering the tail before the leg touches the ground. If a dog limping front leg, the dog moves backward, lifts the tail, and lowers its head before the leg touches the ground. Once you have located the limp, try to learn more about it. Since how long is my dog limping, and why?

Gradual Onset Vs. Sudden Limping

Limping can be further divided into two types: gradual limping and sudden limping. Anything that starts slow and steadily is gradual. Gradual limping starts slowly with an increasing effect. It can last from two to three weeks, depending on what is causing the limp. It can be due to an underlying disease, and consulting a vet is especially important. 

Dog suddenly limping is spontaneous and usually short-lived. It starts suddenly and can be due to a recent injury. Trauma is also a cause of sudden limping. Always keep a note of the limp. Is it changing? The diagnosis is crucial if the limp persists with increasing intensity.

Why is My Dog Limping? | Causes for Limping in Dogs

Limping is extremely uncomfortable and might get troublesome for your dog. One should know what is causing its pet to limp to understand its treatment and severity further. Limping could be due to a lot of causes. From an injury to an underlying disease, here are a few causes and answers to your questions why my dog is limping?

#1 Injury

Dogs are hyperactive animals. They require a lot of running and training. It is natural that anyone, even animals, can get hurt. Injuries are the most common cause of a limp. Check for wounds, swellings, and blood. Injuries can occur while playing, make sure to check the playground, it should be smooth, and no stones should be in sight. Injuries can be deep or narrow. Small splinters and stones cause paw injuries too.

#2 Trauma

When a dog is hit by a vehicle on the road, it can suffer a permanent injury. The memory of the accident may be the reasons for dog limping or walking awkwardly. Past fractures and broken bones also cause muscular trauma.

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#3 Fractures or Joint Tears

Ligament tears and fractures are the most common cause of limp. Check if your dog sprained leg or a dangling broken bone. Consult a veterinarian if the fracture is visible. If it is a sudden limp, a torn ligament or a muscle tear could be the reason.

#4 Joint Diseases

gradual limping can be the reason for a disease or wear and tear of the joint. Many diseases of the musculoskeletal system like Osteoarthritis (autoimmune disease), hip and elbow dysplasia (OSD), ligament diseases, patellar luxation (patella: kneecap abnormality), rupture of the vertebral disk (commonly seen in Beagles, American Cocker Spaniels, or more) and OCD (Osteochondritis Dissecans). Some joint infections occur, like Lyme disease swells up the joints to cause limping and lameness in dogs.

#5 Bone Disease

Bones can be affected in some dogs due to diseases. Large dogs are susceptible to HOD (hypertrophic osteosarcoma), and panosteitis, commonly known as “growing pains” in young pups with growing weight, is common. Bone cancer (osteosarcoma) is the most common cancer in dogs which causes lameness and gradual limps. Timely diagnosis for such diseases is important.

Dog Limping – When to Take your Dog to the Vet?

Limping could turn serious if the issue is not resolved properly and seeking medical guidance becomes necessary. Here know dog limping when to take to vet for dog limping treatment.

  • Injuries can be very deep. If it is visible that the injury is deep and requires professional medical care, get your dog a veterinary appointment. 
  • They are licking paws constantly. If your dog is licking its paw and limping that leg, the reason might be your dog hurt paw. These injuries are difficult to deal with, and a vet must be consulted.
  • If the limping is significantly increasing or continuing for a long time, try to book a complete check-up, as it could be due to a disease. A full body check-up and x-ray are required to see the root cause of the limp. 
  • Any signs of swelling must be checked too. 
  • Any obvious dislocations or broken bones could turn into something profoundly serious. They are extremely dangerous to deal with. A vet should be consulted as soon as possible.
  • A dog, unlike humans, cannot tell us that it is in pain. Any unusual sounds like whimpering and crying signify something is wrong. The dog can be in immense pain and might be trying to tell you that. Consult a vet.
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How to Treat a Limping Dog at Home?

If your dog is limping, the first step should be to check for injuries. Try to conduct your examination at home by asking your dog to lift its legs and paws. Look at the limp leg for a wound or signs of injury. If the injury is not too bad, try dressing yourself until you get it properly checked by a vet. See below to know how to help a limping dog?

  • To properly dress a wound, clean the affected area with a mild antibacterial wash.
  • Try to apply an ointment with clean hands.
  • If the blood is flowing, wrap a tight bandage around it for a while. (If the blood does not stop, consult a vet immediately.)
  • Secure the leg with some cotton and gauge. 

Try to get it to rest and make sure the limping leg is supported. Make a cast for the leg or paw to support the limp in case of a fracture. For a temporary solution, take a wooden stick and, with the help of some gauze and cotton, secure the leg with the support of the wooden stick. Make sure to keep the movements of your dog as little as possible. If it is a pup, lift it and take it to the vet.

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Call the vet to your house if you have a big breed like Doberman Pinscher. Medications are also available to help with pain relief. Numbing agents for the limping area can also be given. To help with dysplasia, supplements given by the vet like glucosamine and chondroitin work well. For older dogs, joint supplements (Glyde Mobility Chews are most commonly prescribed) are given to prevent severe conditions.


In conclusion, dogs are clumsy and athletic. They usually overestimate their enthusiasm and sprint or jump from heights much more than their body permits. Injuries, joint pains, diseases, and even trauma are some of the causes of a limp. Some of these causes can be serious and immediate treatment is required. Never ignore the limp and understand how to treat a limping dog at home; try to deal with it and figure out its cause. Give your dog proper treatment or medical attention if needed. Also, at such a time provide the healthiest dog food to the dogs.