Why Is My Dog Limping?

Our pets are extremely active, all that running and jumping can place a lot of stress on their legs and lead to a leg injury. If your dog is limping that might have injured their leg. Strains and sprains are the most common dog leg injuries and can occur in their back or front legs. When your dog is limping, check to see which leg is injured, are they able to walk on it, and if so for how long? If a dog can stand and place wait on their injured leg for short periods of time and they allow you to manipulate the leg, it’s likely not a severe injury. If they cry out in pain when its touched, are unable to bend the leg, or there is a noticeable break they need to see their vet immediately. 

Joint Injuries That Cause Limping

Dogs typically limp following a joint injury. These are the most common leg joints to be injured.

Commonly injured canine front leg joints include:

  • Elbow
  • Wrist or carpal joint
  • Shoulder 
  • Toes or metacarpal

Rear leg joints frequently injured in dogs are:

bootie splint for pet injury
  • Hip
  • Knee or stifle
  • Ankle, tarsal or hock joint 
  • Toes or metatarsal

After a leg injury, the injured joint may appear swollen. Whether the joint is dislocated, fractures, sprained or strained dogs may begin limping and be unable to bear weight. Pets with any leg injury need to be seen by a pet professional for treatment. Depending on the joint injury a pet may need anti-inflammatory medicine, splinting, crate rest, or even surgery.

Supporting a Dog’s Leg Injury

Choosing the right type of support for your pet’s leg injury is crucial to helping them recover. Once your veterinarian has determined how bad your pet’s injury is and which joint is affected, it’s time to support the joint to prevent further injury as they heal.

Pet Splints for Injured Legs

Rear keg adjustable splint for dogs

Splints are available to brace and support lower leg injuries as they heal, here are the different types of pet splints:

Front Splint supports the lower front leg, including the carpal joint and stabilizes under the paw

Rear Splint supports the lower back leg, including the hock joint and stabilizes under the paw to support the entire lower leg.

Adjustable Pet Splint is the most flexible option for any leg injury. An adjustable splint is perfect for lower leg injuries in either the front or back. Also allowing you to change the splint’s angle and width to perfectly fit your dog’s leg. 

Carpal Splint supports the carpal joint in the front leg, while leaving the dog’s paw free for a more natural gait.

Hock Splint provides hock joint support to lower rear leg, while leaving a dog’s foot free to walk naturally.

Bootie Splint is the best splint for a paw injury. The Bootie is a shorter splint that sits below the hock or carpal joint, which makes it the best splint for a paw injury or when a dog’s toes need to be stabilized.

Knee Injury in Dogs

Your dog’s knees withstand a lot of wear and tear over the years. Canine knee injuries are very common and cruciate tears are painful. While CCL injuries can occur in any dog and at any age, large dogs are considered higher risk and more prone to knee injuries.

Depending on the severity of the injury a dog may bear some weight on their leg. Patellar Luxation and Cranial Cruciate Ligament Rupture are two of the most common knee injuries in dogs. Supporting your dog’s knee as it heals is important. Your veterinarian may recommend a knee support, stifle or knee brace depending on the severity of injury. Dogs unable to walk because of a knee injury may use a wheelchair as part of their regular therapy to keep them mobile as they heal. Low impact exercises, like swimming, can help to strengthen a dog’s knee as well.

Hip Dysplasia and Canine Hip Injuries

Hip Brace for Small Dog

Arthritis and hip dysplasia are also common orthopedic conditions in dogs.

Additionally, traumatic injury to a pet’s hip joint may cause dislocation. A pet with a dislocated hip will not be able to place any weight while the joint is out of socket. A dog with a hip dislocation needs to see a vet immediately.

Hip discomfort can range from mild to severe pain depending on how bad a dog’s hip dysplasia is. Dogs dealing with severe hip dysplasia pain may bunny hop when walking and be reluctant to walk. A hip support system, gently hugs a dog’s hip to reduce pain, support the joint, and improve overall mobility. A canine hip brace can also be incorporated into rehabilitation therapy as a dog works to strengthen the joint. 

Lower Leg Injuries in Dogs

Sprains and strains are the most common lower leg injuries in dogs. A mild strain may cause a dog to limp slightly, but probably doesn’t need more than a simple neoprene wrap for support. A wrist or ankle wrap allows the dog to continue to flex and move the injured limb while it’s being lightly supported.

More severe sprains and leg injuries will require rigid support to stabilize the joint. The carpal or hock joint can be supported by a pet splint that stabilizes the injured joint as it heals, preventing reinjury. If you suspect a broken leg or fracture your pet to see a pet professional. Broken limbs need to be X-Rayed and casted for them to properly heal. Surgical repair may be needed for more severe breaks or leg fractures.

There are many options available to help your limping dog, but they need to receive proper medical care and treatment by their veterinarian as soon as possible. 

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