Why Is My Dog Limping Suddenly
If you notice your dog limping, you may be quite concerned.
After all, it can be very sad to see your dog slow down when they would normally be running and playing.
Sometimes limping is a minor issue that will resolve on its own, while other times limping can indicate a serious issue.
Here are some of the most common reasons that your dog may be limping to help you find the root of the problem.
Limping Caused By An Injury To The Paw
When you consider how rough dogs can be on their paws, it should come as no surprise that paw injuries can happen.
Dogs have relatively sensitive paws that can be injured by stepping on something sharp, getting stung by an insect, and twisting or breaking a toe.
If your dog suddenly starts limping, particularly if they have been running around or on a walk, it’s a good idea to check the paw to see if there are any cuts or anything stuck in or between the pads.
If you have taken your dog for a walk or let them play on asphalt in hot weather, your dog’s paws could have been burned by the pavement.
Even 10 seconds of exposure to hot asphalt or cement can burn your dog’s paws.
If your dog’s paw has been burned or traumatically injured in some way, you will likely be able to see the problem.
It is also very likely that your dog will lick the injured paw.
Limping Because Of A Torn Or Embedded Nail
Your dog’s nails receive a lot of abuse, especially if your dog runs around a lot.
Nails can become torn or broken off, which can be extremely painful.
If you don’t trim your dog’s nails regularly and if they don’t get enough exercise to wear the nail down naturally, the nail can grow all the way around and embed into the pad of the paw, which can be extremely painful.
This tends to be more likely with small breed dogs, especially dogs that are not particularly active.
Often, a limp will come on gradually as the nail embeds further and further into the pad of the foot.
You may also notice your dog licking or chewing at the area.
It can be hard enough to trim your dog’s nails under any circumstances, but if they have a nail embedded in the pad of the foot, they may be very resistant to having it trimmed.
You may need to seek out your veterinarian’s help to have your dog sedated to trim the nail.
Limping Because Of Problems With The Joint
One of the most common reasons why your dog may be limping is due to joint problems.
There is a wide range of joint issues that can lead to limping, including hip or elbow dysplasia, osteoarthritis, luxating patellas, and intervertebral disk disease.
Your dog may begin limping all of a sudden, for instance, if a luxating patella pops out, or the limping may come on gradually.
Sometimes your dog may be limping, but not showing any other signs of pain.
This is particularly likely with luxating patella since of the joint may slip out, causing your dog to limp for a couple of steps but not change their gait or seem bothered.
Depending on what’s going on with your dog’s joints, your veterinarian may recommend surgery, physical therapy, or a joint supplement like glucosamine or chondroitin.
Limping Caused By Bone Cancer
It isn’t particularly likely that your dog is limping because of bone cancer, but it is a possibility.
Osteosarcoma and other cancers of the bone can weaken the bone and the joints and cause a limp.
Tumors on the bone can also be painful, causing a dog to be very sensitive in that area as well as limping.
Often, if your dog is limping due to bone cancer, the limping will gradually intensify as the tumor grows.
You may be able to feel a tumor in the affected limb, but sometimes the cancer will be isolated within the bone and you won’t be able to feel it.
However, your veterinarian will likely be able to diagnose a tumor using imaging.
Limping Due To An Injury To The Leg
If your dog hurt his leg, it is very likely that he will limp on the injured limb.
Dogs can injure themselves in many ways, ranging from rough housing with other dogs to taking a hard tumble.
In some instances, your dog may just have a sore limb that will heal on its own.
In other cases, something more serious may be going on.
A dog with a leg injury may experience limping, swelling, limb sensitivity, and even disinterest in activities they once enjoyed.
If the limping persists for more than 12 hours, we always suggest having them seen by your veterinarian.
Limping Caused By Lyme Disease
Lyme disease is a serious tick-borne illness in our canine friends.
Diagnosis can be difficult due to the vague symptoms it causes, as well as the long incubation period from infection to symptom development.
Ticks with Lyme disease are most common in forested areas where mice and deer can be found, but they can also show up in more urban areas.
Some of the many symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs include:
- Swollen joints
- Limping typically moving from one leg to the other
If you see that your dog is limping on a back leg one day and on a front leg another day, this is a always a symptom you should share with your veterinarian.
If your vet is able to diagnose your pup with Lyme disease, many cases can be treated with antibiotic therapy.
Limping From Developmental Problems
If your young dog is limping and has never seemed to have a normal gait, it could be developmental issues that are at fault.
These abnormalities can develop as a result of everything from inadequate nutrition to untreated injuries, causing a dog to have a limp or unsteady gait.
If you think your dog may be struggling with a developmental issue that is causing limping, we suggest having them seen by a vet.
Your veterinarian may be able to diagnose developmental issues by taking x-rays or other imaging.
What To Do If Your Dog Is Limping
If your dog is limping and seems painful, it is always best to get them checked out by a vet.
You don’t want your dog to suffer, so it’s best to seek out help from your veterinarian from the moment you notice a limp in your pup.
My name is Amber. I am a dedicated animal lover that turned my passion into my career. I am a Licensed Vet Tech with 10 years of experience in veterinary medicine, but I recently took my career online to help spread accurate information on animal care. With how vast the online world is, I have a strong desire to ensure that the reader always walks away with helpful pet advice. With the experience I’ve gained from my time in this field, I have been able to travel the world, offering my services to as many animal rescues as I can find. If I am not at my laptop, or back home visiting family, you can find me somewhere in the world, cuddling every furry friend that I can find! Read more about us here.