Young or old, dogs are at risk of injury for a variety of reasons, and limping is a common symptom of illness or injury that affects the bones or joints. If your dog is limping, it's important to come and see us at Bixby Animal Clinic right away. While limping isn't always serious, it can be an indicator of an underlying problem that may get worse if not treated.
What are Some Common Causes of Limping?
When an animal limps, it's typically due to pain in one or more limbs, or a range of motion that is more limited than normal. Limping has multiple causes, many of which are not serious; however, sometimes it is caused by an injury or disease that needs attention.
Osteoarthritis is a common problem for older dogs. This degenerative disease is the result of joint wear and tear, and while it's therefore a risk for all dogs, some do have a higher risk than others. For example, dogs affected by inherited joint or bone problems such as hip dysplasia have an increased risk, due to the additional stress these problems put on the joints.
This injury is common in dogs, especially in young dogs, as young bones are softer and more likely to fracture than to break. A dog with this kind of fracture will limp and may hold their leg in an abnormal position; they are also likely to be in great pain. It's very common for the fibula to be injured at the same time, and in most cases, surgery is needed to repair the damage.
The cruciate ligaments of the knee support and stabilize the joint, but while ligaments are strong tissues, they're also at risk of tearing or rupturing. In fact, rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a very common cause of knee injuries in dogs. An ACL rupture causes immediate and severe pain, and a dog with this injury will be unable to put any weight on the injured knee. There are a number of options for surgical treatment, and in general surgery is the preferred option because it minimizes the risk of the joint becoming arthritic as the dog ages.
Not all causes of limping are so complicated. Sometimes the cause is something relatively simple, such as an overgrown nail, or a cracked foot-pad. Even so, it's better to take your dog to the vet for professional help, rather than trying to treat the problem yourself, or hoping it will go away on its own, as small problems can become more serious if they're not properly taken care of.
Contact Us to Make an Appointment
Even minor problems have the potential to turn into something more painful or debilitating—so if you notice your pet is limping, call us at for an appointment. Have questions? Call us today.