There are many reasons for a dog to limp. No matter what the cause is, limping is typically a reaction to pain. The most common problems we see that cause limping are a soft tissue injury, a bone injury, a tumor, or a damaged ligament.
First, See a Veterinarian in the Area:
If your dog is limping, he or she should be seen by a local veterinarian in Durham or Chapel Hill to determine the cause and treatment, and also to provide pain management.
Some dogs are at higher risk for problems with one or more limbs. The risk factors include obesity, over-nutrition of a large breed dog when a puppy, trauma, and genetics.
What Causes a Limp?
Obesity causes additional stress on joints, just as in people, making dogs who are overweight at higher risk for joint problems including arthritis. Large breed puppies should be fed a puppy food specifically formulated for them. Their skeletal structure matures more slowly than other dogs. If they are fed a puppy food that encourages their bones to grow too fast, they may be prone to problems later in life.
Trauma can also cause limping. A dog that has a leg injury is apt to favor the injured leg. Some injuries can also cause problems later in life. A joint that was injured may be more likely to develop arthritis than other, non-injured joints. Genetics can also play a role in limping. For example, some breeds of dogs are predisposed to hip dysplasia. Combining two or more of these factors will compound the risk.
Dogs that have suffered an injury to a limb may limp. In some cases the limb may not be able to support weight and the pet will hold that limb up. Similar to humans, an injury can range from a muscle pull to a fracture. Diagnosis will provide your Durham or Chapel Hill veterinarian with the information needed to recommend the best treatment.
When limping is caused by disease, it may be neurologic such as stroke, a metabolic disease, cancer, or an infectious disease. Tick borne diseases are examples of diseases that may cause a dog to limp. This is why it is important to provide a good tick preventative to your dog.
Getting a Good Diagnosis for Your Dog:
When a dog is seen by a veterinarian for limping, we have several tools available to aid in diagnosing the cause. Your veterinarian will start with a physical exam, and decide what diagnostic tools will provide the best information. These may include bloodwork, x-rays, ultrasound, or CT or MRI.
The information and diagnoses will be used by your veterinarian to recommend treatment options and provide pain management for your dog. Treatment and pain management may include prescription pain and anti-inflammatory medication, antibiotics, supplements, rest, weight loss, splint or bandage, and physical therapy or rehabilitation.
An early diagnosis of limping can prevent additional injury, making treatment less costly. Remember that limping is a dog's reaction to pain. It is important to start appropriate treatment as soon as possible. If you find your dog limping, please make for an appointment so that your veterinarian can help you decide on the best treatment options.