Your Dog is Limping, What Now?

dog limping in Manchester, NH
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Dogs are a beloved part of many people’s lives, providing companionship, love, and entertainment. As a dog owner, it can be distressing to see your furry friend limping. Whether it’s a sudden onset or a persistent issue, there are a few steps you can take to help your dog recover.

Observing Your Dog’s Limp

The first step when you notice your dog limping is to carefully observe its movements. This can help you identify the root cause of the issue. Some things to look out for include:

  • Which leg is affected? Is it a front or back leg?
  • Is your dog limping constantly or only during certain activities (e.g., after exercise or when going up stairs)?
  • Are there any visible signs of injury, such as cuts or bruises?
  • Is your dog showing any other symptoms, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, or a behavior change?

Taking note of these details can help you provide better information to your veterinarian and can also help you determine if the issue is severe enough to require emergency veterinary care.

Types of Limping in Dogs and Their Causes

The type of limping your dog experiences can help give clues to the underlying cause of their discomfort. Here are some of the most common types of limping in dogs:

Front Leg Limping

Front leg limping occurs when your dog is favoring one of their front legs. Numerous conditions, such as a sprain, strain, or leg fracture, might contribute to this. Another indication of joint issues, for example, elbow dysplasia or arthritis, is a front leg limp.

Back Leg Limping

Back leg limping occurs when your dog is favoring one of their back legs. This may be brought on by conditions including hip malformation, a ruptured ligament, or a leg fracture. This can also be a sign of joint issues.

Bilateral Limping

Bilateral limping occurs when your dog is limping on both legs at the same time. This can be caused by a systemic issue such as a viral infection, tick-borne disease, or even an autoimmune disorder.

Shifting Limp

When your dog switches which limb they favor, they develop a changing limp. Joint conditions like arthritis or a luxating patella may be to blame for this.

Stiff Limp

If your dog limps with a stiff, inflexible stride, it is said to have a stiff limp. This might be brought on by difficulties with the joints or the spine, such as intervertebral disc disease.

Limping and Whining

If your dog is limping and whining, it could be a sign of significant pain. This could be caused by a fracture, sprain, or other injury.

Common Causes of Limping in Dogs

There are many possible causes of limping in dogs. Some of the most common causes include:

Paw Injuries

Dogs who hobble frequently have paw damage. Dogs may hurt their paws when running or playing if they trip on anything hot or sharp, or if they twist their paw. Simple scratches and scrapes to more serious wounds like broken bones or puncture holes can all result in paw injuries, which can vary in complexity.

Treatment for paw injuries typically involves cleaning and bandaging the wound and administering dog pain medication if needed. In more serious cases, surgery may be required to repair broken bones or other damage.

Bone Diseases

Bone diseases such as osteoarthritis, hip dysplasia, and luxating patella can also cause limping in dogs. These ailments can cause anguish and inflammation that might make it difficult for a dog to run or walk by affecting the joints and bones.

Treatment for bone diseases typically involves managing pain and inflammation with medication and providing supportive care such as physical therapy or weight management. In some cases, surgery may be required to correct the underlying issue.


Injuries such as cuts, bruises, and fractures can all cause limping in dogs. It’s important to check your dog for any visible signs of injury and take them to the vet immediately if you find anything.

Ligament Tears

Ligament tears, such as a torn ACL, are another common cause of limping in dogs. These injuries are often caused by sudden twists or turns and may require surgery to repair.

Neurological Issues

In some cases, limping may be caused by neurological issues such as nerve damage or a spinal cord injury. These conditions can be more difficult to diagnose and may require advanced testing such as an MRI.

Lyme Disease

 Lyme disease is a tick-borne illness that can cause limping in dogs. Other symptoms include fever, lethargy, and loss of appetite. Your dog may be at risk of getting Lyme disease if they spend a lot of time outside, especially in grassy or forested areas. Take your dog to the doctor for testing and treatment if you think they may have this health issue.

dog limping in Manchester, NH

How a Veterinarian Will Diagnose the Cause of the Dop Limp

Once you notice your dog limping, it is important to bring them into the vet to find out the cause.

Physical Examination

A veterinarian will begin by performing a physical examination of the dog to look for signs of injury or disease. They will palpate the affected area, assess the range of motion in the joints, and observe the dog’s gait and posture.

Imaging Tests

If the veterinarian suspects that the limping is due to a bone or joint injury, they may recommend imaging tests such as X-rays, ultrasound, or MRI to get a better look at the affected area.

Blood Work

In some cases, the veterinarian may recommend blood work to look for signs of infection or inflammation.

Pain Management

The limping is causing the dog significant discomfort; the veterinarian may prescribe pain medication or recommend other forms of pain management such as physical therapy or acupuncture.


Surgery may be required to repair a broken bone or correct a joint problem that is causing the limping.

Preventing Limping in Dogs

Preventing limping in dogs can help keep them healthy and happy. Here are some steps you can take to help prevent limping in your dog:

Keep Your Dog Comfortable

Limping can be painful for your dog, so it’s important to keep them comfortable. This may include providing them with a soft, comfortable bed to rest on, limiting their activity, and providing them with pain relief medication as recommended by your veterinarian.

Keep Your Dog at a Healthy Weight

Carrying excess weight can put extra strain on your dog’s joints, increasing their risk of limping and developing arthritis. Make sure your dog is at a healthy weight and adjust their diet and exercise routine as necessary to help them maintain that weight.

Provide Proper Exercise

Regular exercise is important for your dog’s overall health, but it’s important to make sure you’re providing the right type and amount of exercise. Avoid high-impact activities that can put a strain on your dog’s joints, such as jumping or running on hard surfaces. Instead, opt for low-impact activities such as walking, swimming, or gentle play.

Use Joint Supplements

There are a variety of joint supplements available that can help support your dog’s joint health. These supplements often contain ingredients such as glucosamine and chondroitin, which can help reduce inflammation and support joint function. Talk to your veterinarian about whether joint supplements may be appropriate for your dog.

Provide Proper Nutrition

Proper nutrition is important for your dog’s overall health, but it’s especially important for their joint health. Make sure your dog is getting a balanced diet that includes all the necessary nutrients and consider adding joint-supporting supplements or foods to their diet.

Keep Your Dog Comfortable

Limping can be painful for your dog, so it’s important to keep them comfortable. This may include providing them with a soft, comfortable bed to rest on, limiting their activity, and providing them with pain relief medication as recommended by your veterinarian.

Regular Veterinary Check-Ups

Regular examinations by your veterinarian can help detect any developing joint problems quickly, enabling prompt treatment and intervention. Your veterinarian can also guide appropriate exercise routines and other steps you can take to help support your dog’s joint health.

Provide a Soft and Supportive Bed

A soft and supportive bed can help reduce pressure on your dog’s joints and promote a good night’s sleep. Make sure your dog’s bed is the right size for them and provides enough cushioning and support.


Limping in dogs can arise due to various factors, ranging from minor injuries to severe medical conditions. If your dog is limping, it is crucial to evaluate the situation and seek veterinary advice if necessary. Adequate rest, restricted activity, and ice or heat therapy can assist in managing minor injuries, while more severe conditions may require medication or other treatments. Regular exercise and a nutritious diet can help prevent limping and other joint-related problems in your furry companion.

If your dog is limping near Manchester, NH, contact Best Friends Animal Hospital by calling 603-625-2378. Our veterinarians will give your dog the best care.

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