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Causes of Limping in Dogs

Updated on August 25, 2017
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Adrienne is a former veterinary hospital assistant, certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, and author of "Brain Training for Dogs."

Why is My Dog Limping?

There are several causes of limping in dogs and it's important to carefully evaluate the situation. For instance, a dog may start limping out of the blue, following some injury you hadn't noticed. Or a limp may develop gradually over time, for example due to the onset of arthritis. Limping in dogs can be caused by many different things. The underlying cause needs to be addressed and understood, as it sometimes may be something much different than a simple sprain.

When I worked at a veterinary hospital, I was often responsible for making "triage" decisions about what to do about an injured dog. In the process, I would give priority same-day appointment slots to dogs who wouldn't put weight on their injured leg. The most urgent cases of limping are often those where the dog refuses to put any weight on the affected limb.

Here are some steps you can follow to pinpoint the cause of limping in dogs.

1. Inspect the limb. If your dog just began limping, start by carefully inspecting the affected limb. Don't forget to look in between the toes! Look for any evidence of injury such as the following:

  • Cuts
  • Splinters
  • Insect bite (like from stepping on some fire ants)
  • Foreign objects stuck between the toes
  • Torn toenails
  • Swollen or misshapen foot or leg

If you see a thorn or other foreign object stuck in the paw pad, you may get some tweezers, go to a well-lit area, and try to carefully remove it. Muzzle your dog for safety! If you suspect something is stuck, but it seems to be deep under the skin, you can immerse the foot in a mixture of Epsom salts and water, and see if that helps the foreign object to work its way out.

2. Palpate the limb. Obviously, don't handle the limb if there are obvious signs of fracture (swelling, disfiguring of the limb, or protruding bones), or if you own an aggressive dog, or one that tends to bite when in pain (many dogs will). But otherwise, you want to gently feel the affected limb, while looking at the dog for any clue that he is feeling pain; this will help find the source of the problem. Each dog has its own way of manifesting pain: some may startle, others may whimper, and others may growl and even attempt to nip.

3. Decide whether to monitor the situation or seek veterinary advice. At this point, you should try to address your findings. If there is a thorn, you should try to remove it; if there is a cut, you want to medicate it and keep it from getting infected. If the source is not easy to identify, it is best to seek veterinary advice, including about whether you need x-rays. It's possible that the limping is not caused by any particular small problem, but by a disease affecting multiple limbs or the whole body.

Injuries Due to Accidents

Aside from evident cuts, foreign objects, or torn nails, there are still a long list of possible causes of limping. One of the most common causes is accidents. Your dog may have injured itself jumping out of your car or playing in the yard. If you witnessed the injury, then the cause of the limping will be obvious; but If you have been away and come home to a limping dog, the cause may need to be investigated.

  • Sprains. Dogs get muscle sprains just as humans do. They can result from a sudden movement while playing. Sprains and limping are especially common in working-dog breeds. Most non-serious sprains usually resolve by themselves and show marked improvement within 48 hours. However, if the dog is in evident pain and appears uncomfortable, you should consult with the vet. He will identify the cause, and may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs for pain relief. Rest is key to a faster recovery.
  • Fractures. Fractures are usually pretty obvious: the leg is not bearing weight, the dog will be in obvious pain, the leg may appear deformed or swollen, and sometimes the bone may even be protruding out of the skin. The dog may have bleeding from such an injury that needs to be stopped. It is obvious the dog needs prompt veterinary attention. On the way to the vet, the dog should be restrained from moving, to the extent possible. It is helpful to carry the dog. While a fracture is most often due to an accident, bone cancer (discussed below) can also cause fractures known as "pathological fractures."

Limping Caused by Problems in Growing Dogs

Large young dogs are prone to problems as they grow. These disorders often have a genetic basis. Puppies of large breeds may develop a limp between two months and two years of age, often because they grow too fast, putting extra strain on the bones, cartilage and muscle. Sometimes diet aggravates the problem: too many calories, protein intake, and incorrect proportions of calcium and phosphorus. Here are some common growth-related causes of limping.

  • Pano (panosteitis). Typically this condition shows up in dogs six to nine months of age, though it may be found in dogs up to 18 months old. Pano can be thought of as "growing pains"; the marrow found in the long bones develops abnormally for a time. Typically the dog presents with sudden limping without any known injuries. He is able to put weight on the leg, but will show obvious pain. The lameness may show up sporadically and may shift from leg to leg. Palpating the limb by pressing or squeezing the middle of the shaft of the long bone usually elicits a pain response from the dog. Treatment consists mainly of pain management and diet change. While Pano may last two to five months, the dog should recover fully.
  • HOD (hypertrophic osteodystrophy). This condition occurs mainly in puppies two to eight months old. It is the inflammation of the growth plates (the cartilage at the end of a growing bone). Typically, palpating the distal (lower) end of the long bone will elicit a pain response from the dog. The joints may feel hot and look swollen. The dog will appear lame, almost as if walking on egg shells. He also be lethargic, have a fever and lose weight.
  • OCD (osteochondrosis dissecans). This painful condition is caused by a defect in the cartilage surface of the joint. Cartilage may come detached and float around the area of the joint. OCD commonly affects the shoulder, but may affect other parts of the limb, such as the elbow, knee, hocks, or stifle. The condition is best resolved by surgery to replace the defective cartilage.

Vet Explains How to Check a Dog Limping on its Rear Leg

Other Causes of Limping in Dogs

While limping in a puppy or young dog may be related to growth, in older dogs there may be different causes. Following are some non-growth-related causes of limping, affecting the front legs and the rear legs.

Limping Affecting Only Front Legs

  • Elbow dysplasia. In this condition, the top of the ulna is not properly fused to the rear point of the elbow. The dog will appear lame and will respond to pain when its elbow is extended.

Limping Affecting Only Rear Legs

  • Hip dysplasia. Hip Dysplasia in dogs is a genetic disorder, and all breeding dogs should be screened before mating. In hip dysplasia, because of structural defects, the ball of the hip doesn not fit properly in its socket. Affected dogs will have trouble walking and in particular may have a hard time getting up from lying down.
  • Ruptured anterior cruciate ligament. This is often seen when the dog accidentally twists on his hind leg, causing the cruciate ligament to tear. This can happen on slippery surfaces, or when a dog is hit by a car. Breeds predisposed to this problem are Newfoundland, Labrador retriever, Rottweiler, and St. Bernard. Affected dogs will typically appear lame, holding the affected rear leg off the ground. The knee may become swollen.
  • Luxating Patella. When your dog exhibits pain in the stifle or knee-cap area, he may have a luxating patella, a problem often seen in small breeds of dogs such as Yorkies, toy poodles, and dachshunds. A dog with a luxating patella may skip when it runs.

Other Diseases That May Cause Limping

  • Bone Cancer. Large-breed dogs are prone to bone cancer. Affected dogs may develop severe lameness and unexplainable fractures after even a slight injury. Bone cancer is a serious condition in dogs, often requiring amputation of the leg to reduce pain.
  • Arthritis. As dogs age, the continuous friction of the joints can cause inflammation and arthritis. Affected dogs are typically middle-aged to senior, and will become reluctant to jump out of the car or climb up the stairs. They may walk more slowly, and have more pain in the mornings. Anti-inflammatory drugs may work very well. Home remedies for arthritis in dogs are also worth trying.
  • Lyme disease. This disease is carried by ticks. Affected dogs will usually develop an unexplainable limp a few months after the tick exposure. Commonly, the limp will be barely noticeable at first but then will progress up to a point where the dog may be unable to walk. Many dogs affected by Lyme disease are literally carried by the owner into the vet's office. Accompanying symptoms may be fever and lethargy. The disease is treated with antibiotics such as Doxycycline or Cephalexin.
  • Valley fever. This fungal disease found in the desert Southwest may cause a cough accompanied by limping.
  • Neurological disorders. For example, a "slipped" or out-of-place disc in the spine can put pressure on nerves in the spinal cord, cutting off the messages from the brain to the legs that allow proper movement.

The only way to know for sure what is causing a dog to limp is to have the dog seen by a veterinarian, and possibly undergo x-rays or further tests.

This article is not supposed to be used as a substitute for veterinary advice. If your puppy or dog is limping, please see your veterinarian for proper assessment and treatment.

Have questions? Discuss your dog's health with other users at Dog Health Forums. Allergies, cancer, and limping are a few of the many topics!

Dr. Greg Explains What to Check For in a Limping Dog

Does your dog see the vet for a limping problem?

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© 2009 Adrienne Janet Farricelli

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    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 weeks ago from USA

      What tick disease was your dog diagnosed with? The symptoms could be due to something unrelated or you may be dealing with a flare-up. Please consult with your vet for instructions. Your dog can be sedated for x-rays if moving him for the x-ray is too painful.

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      DR SHARMITESH TRIPATHI 3 weeks ago

      I HAVE 1 YEAR LAB AND HE IS LIMPING I HAVE COMPLETED COURSE OF DOXY AS INSTRUCTED.AND ANTI TICKS MEDICATION HAVE BEEN GIVEN STILL THE LIMPING PERSISTS. I CANNOT SHIFT THE DOG FOR RADIOLOGICAL INVESTIGATIONS, WHAT DO U SUGGEST FOR TREATMENT.

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      Dave 3 weeks ago

      A major disappointment on the internet I experienced is if your dogs back legs are not working .Don't wait to read all these articles that are out there over internet!!Take you dog to a emergency Vet immediately . If your dog is in the beginnings of a slipped disk every minute counts. The faster you get your dog to surgery the better chances of ever walking again. I'm totally amazed that this fact is not broadcast loud and clear by every Vet that addresses sudden walking difficulties in a dog.

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      Dude 4 weeks ago

      Ruby Red, does your dog have issues with keeping food down? If so it sounds like you should do some research into MG and ME, and get to a vet.

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      Bev 5 weeks ago

      I am looking after a little dog whilst her owner is on holiday. Today she has started limping. I have tried looking underneath but she is resisting. I have felt the leg and there doesn't seem anything untoward. The owners are back on Saturday should I take her to a vet or wait till they come back ?

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      Ruby Red 6 weeks ago

      My lab pub Ruby Red 6month old is not gaining weight at 22 lbs and her back legs shake and it is hard for her to walk and struggles when squatting to pee and poop. Doesn't show any signs of pain, wants get up and walk around and try's to play all the time. Very happy and nice, roll over and rub my belly kind of girl? Any help on what might be going on?

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      mike 8 weeks ago

      my dog all of a sudden can't walk on one of his front legs. Nothing came up in X-ray and he doesn't cry if I move the leg. He is on pain med and anti inflammatory meds but doesn't seem to be improving. He is a 14 yr old cavalier king charles. '

      any advice?

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      Lili 2 months ago

      My dog was playing outside when he started whining and he put up his foot he walks for a little and sits back down and starts licking his paw what should i do

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      Nick 2 months ago

      My dog had successful surgery 2 weeks ago on a broken front humerus. She still will not put any pressure on it. Anything I can do to force her to put pressure on it? Or is this normal? The Dr said short walks were fine.

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 months ago from USA

      It could be a strain or sprain from the fall, please see your vet for accurate diagnosis.

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      Hannah 2 months ago

      My grandmas boxer she silped and fell and now she is limping I can't find out why can someone help and answer me thank you

    • profile image

      Renee 3 months ago

      I have a full grown dog that was fine last night.but this morning she can't even stand up on her own.and if you help her stand up she will stand for a few short time and fall straight down and she won't even try to walk. what could have happened to her overnight? Please can someone tell what could be the problem

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      Noeleen currn 3 months ago

      I have a jack Russell he is ten years old all of a sudden his right back leg keeps going from under him.any information please

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      wrightliz1@outlook.com 3 months ago

      my 5 year old boxer bitch had surgery on both cruciate ligaments a year ago now she is limping on one hind leg can she rupture it again even thought he put pins in liz

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      Kim 4 months ago

      I have a 1month 2week female chaweenie she had an episode where she was shaking eyes were dialated and very week she couldn't stand and if she did she would immediately fall to her side. Three days later she is better eating good She is walking and running but she still shakes a lot she walks like if she were drunk. What do I do??

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      Laura 4 months ago

      I have a dog that is 6 months old and he has times where he chooses not to walk or can't. I call him and he sits down and turns away from me; he indicates the problem is from his rear end by looking at it or reacting by a cry by trying to walk and sits down immediately. I checked his back paws, his butt, his back legs, and there is no sign of cuts, foreign object, or anything but does keep trying to itch or bite near his butt but I have no idea what it may be. He's done this for about 3 months now and every other day. In the morning we head outside and there was one time where he couldn't reach the door by walking or he would scream with pain. I'm guessing it may be limb problem or stomach. I saw blood in his poop twice the same day but since then no blood and pretty solid poop.

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      Rachel 5 months ago

      I have a 15 month old cavapoo. 2 months ago she started picking up her back left leg when she goes down the stairs. When out on walks she sort of hops on it.. I have taken her to the vet she has had an X-ray which showed nothing. The vet said she doesn't appear to be in pain but has recommended a CT whuch he said may not show anything. I asked if he could do blood tests but he said she doesn't show any signs of something a blood test could pick up. The CT scan is £1400 should I get it done or leave and see if she improves..?

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      Michelle 5 months ago

      I came home to find my dog crying he can barely walk...dont know if its his leg or thigh..when i Touch him he cries...weird that hes at the back door laying on the floor crying

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      John D. 5 months ago

      My 11 yr old rotti mix has a bad ear since he was a baby...prednisone etc. Nothing clears it..smells bad...dark brown in color..very liquid any tboughts.

    • profile image

      Matt and Alfie 6 months ago

      I have a five year old cross bread and about 16 weeks ago he had a slight limp and it hasn't got worse or got any better it has just been a constant , it's now worrying me as a man over the park noticed it and said it could be bone cancer . We do walk miles in a week , I record that we sometimes do 75km on a week but I've cut that down , and he has put a bit of wait on that I'm now sorting . I'm just so so worried as he was a fit healthy young dog now he seems like an old one when we go walking .

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      Carol B 6 months ago

      My 12 yr-old soft coated wheaton's left front leg's weakness has progressed since we inheritied him 10 yrs. ago. That, plus allergies and foot/paw licking were examined over the years but meds, diet trials, xrays, etc. never diagnosed or "corrected" anything so we learned to live with each other's imperfections. The weakness became limping, clumsiness, etc. intensified to paw flipping backwards after a cramped small plane ride. Physical exam diagnosed as "lump" textbook report "nerve tumor" with dismal prospect of survival even with amputation, radiation. Digital radiological snaps show disc compression t C5--so, how do I learn if this is really turmor, or nerve compression?

    • profile image

      John 7 months ago

      I have a 10 week old puppy likes to sneak in the bed at night well I accidentally rolled on him now he won't put his hind leg down I'm 100% disabled I only get paid once a month what should I do I'm so worried and I called all vets they won't let me write a post dated check it don't seem broken please help need advice what should I do

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      Donna Davis from Canyon LAKE, Tx 7 months ago

      My Chihuahua is approximately 12 to 14 years old, and 3 wks ago she stopped using her right/rear leggs. The vet did a xray and said she had soft tissue damage and put her on pain medication and said to keep her imobile as much as possible.

      And it's 3 wks later and still not using the affected leg.

      I really do not know what to do...

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      Jennifer 9 months ago

      My 7 month old pup woke up this morning with a limp in his back right leg. It gives out on him sometimes when he walks. Not sure why, he was perfectly fine before bed last night. He isn't acting like i's hurting him, he's playing like usual it's just causing him to be clumsy. It just worried me

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      Laura 10 months ago

      My Boxer/shepherd mix started limping right out of the blue.... quickly escalated to absolutely no weight bearing at all...... been to the vet got pain meds and anti-inflammetories..... she seemed to be getting a little better but after few days got worse... went back to vet got more meds ofr longer time period... now limb is swollen by ankle and knee.... wrapped her leg in an ace wrap for stability but she really cannot get her footing to stand or walk well... I'm having to hold her hind quarters so that she can get "a head start"..... any thoughts on what may be going on at this point?? I feel as though I should have some thought processes to present to the vet when I take her back this week.......

    • profile image

      Meg 11 months ago

      So i noticed my min pin Hansel was limping a bit last night, while i was at work my BF investigated and found a dead tick between my dogs toes. My min pin still has an appetite, doesnt yelp in pain when i touch the area on his foot, but isn't his active self. He also wont put his full weight on the foot. Is it possible that the tick could have caused the discomfort, also I was told to check for lyme but can that be so sudden?

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      k-baby 12 months ago

      About 6 weeks ago I took my Doberman to the vet to get a sedated nail grind and he had a small sore on his front leg from licking...... He got the nail grind and I had the sore checked to be sure it was not cancer........ all came back as no cancer..... and just got antibiotics..... when we were leaving.... he had a hard time getting up in the car..... but I thought he was just still a little sedated... Got home about 15 minutes later..... and he could not lift his leg to pee........ his left hip was swollen about 3- times it size.......... called the vet and took him back in......could not pee without difficulty for 3 days....... doctor said he was looking to see if he had a mast cell........... been back and forth 12-14 times.... once to twice a week.... no change in swelling, but on week two he started to not be able to get up and down without his hips going out sort of like falling occasionally.... even now very difficult going up and down stairs........ as sometimes slips.... I think he fell at the vet, and feel it is a cover-up and I'm getting more worried as time goes on......... how can know if he fell?

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      Tammy 13 months ago

      We have a little "Porky" (Pom/Yorkie mix) and he got a small injury on his front leg about 2 years ago and during the time he was recovering my husband really babied him a lot. So now when he wants attention, he starts limping. I know he is faking it because I saw him coming down the hallway and as soon as he saw my husband, he started limping. he has varying degrees of this limp depending on how much attention he wants....we took him to the vert and the vet could not find anything wrong with him. The assistant vet said her dog does the same thing. Wierd huh?

      Animals instinct is to hide injury, but my little guy found a way to exploit his. Too Funny

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      Bob 13 months ago

      My boxer dog poops really soft a smoothly and every time sh tries to get up she falls down but it looks like someone hit her so I touched her leg and she didn't mind I was wondering what's wrong with her?

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      Kelley 13 months ago

      I have a senior female toy yorkie who earlier today yelped in the back yard and ran to hide in the foliage on the other end of the yard. I managed to coax her out since she was well hidden. Now about 7 hours later she's limping and I don't know why. I had initially checked her over for any blood, bites, ticks, etc. She was walking just fine in the beginning. Now I don't know what to do. She's eating and drinking just fine. I did check her since she has been limping to see what the problem is and it seems to be slightly swollen on her right front leg. I'm not sure if I should at this point take her to the vet or let it ride out.

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      Juliette 14 months ago

      Hi, I have an almost 4 yr of English lab. This morning when we took her for her morning walk she wouldn't walk or stand up. When we tryed to get her to stand, her back was arched and her back left leg was shaking. She ate all her food, so we ruled out stomach problem which she sometimes has. She will only lye on her right side so her leg is it the air. Whenever we touch it to look at it it shakes and she looks in pain. There is no visible injury, but it is hard to know for sure because she won't stand up so we cannot compare her legs. She seemed fine yesterday, the only way she could have hurt it was the 5 hour car ride we have yesterday and last night. We are really worried about her and we can't take her in to the vet until tommorow. Any help of what might be wrong would be appreciated, or if it even sounds like it is her leg. Thank you

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 14 months ago from USA

      Corri, any fire ants in your yard?

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 14 months ago from USA

      Corri, when you do not notice anything after an inspection of the area, it's often time for an x-ray to see what's going on internally.

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 14 months ago from USA

      Jim, please report it to the vet that prescribed the medication. Can also be a side effect.

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 14 months ago from USA

      Only the vet can really answer this, the pup should see the vet specifically for this problem. When dogs get their shots they are only visited quickly for any obvious problems (like a lump, growth in the mouth, swollen abdomen etc) and these more subtle problems that are seen when walking the dog or only seen at times can be missed.

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      corri 14 months ago

      my dog has a limp but i do not see any visuals from the list and she has licked her paw on multiple times and flinches from time to time what happened?

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      Holly 14 months ago

      I have a 12 yr old chihuahua Eddie limps on both front paws. Looking at his

      paws I see a round dried hard something that herts him. he licks at it all the time. Now it is bloody and he doesn't want it touched.

      Thank You,

      Holly

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      Jim 14 months ago

      Hi. My 4 month old puppy is limping and constantly twitching his hind leg after I gave him medication for mange.

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 14 months ago from USA

      Becca, I hope your dog is feeling better now. It's very frustrating when an exact cause cannot be found.

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      Francel 15 months ago

      hi, i have two boerbulls not related at all they got 5 babies, the pups are now about five months old, one of the owners that took one pup complained to me today that the pup seems lame in her front legs and as if there is something wrong with her tongue muscles as well, she did not always have this problem it only started lately as she is growing? this is the only owner that has a problem like this? what can be the causes of this? the pup's where checked by the vet every time they received their injections and there where no problems with them? please let me know so that I can give an answer to the owner?

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      Becca 15 months ago

      I have a four year old English Mastiff who started out with a swollen knee.. I took him to the vet and they said they thought he tore a ligament, so gave him pain meds and anti-inflammatories... Four days later the knee was swollen and so was his leg... He was barely moving. Wouldn't put any weight on it. His leg and knee was three times the size it was suppose to be. I took him to another vet who said he did not have a torn ligament, no broken bones either. They ruled out heart disease, lime disease, heart worms, lung issues, and pretty much everything. They said they couldn't figure out what was wrong with him but they thought he had an infection of some sort. They put him on antibiotics, pain meds, and water pills. He is getting better, but still swollen. The swelling has went down some but he is still not putting any pressure on his foot/leg. I worry about what's wrong with him, because they said it could be a spider bite or a snake bite but they could not find an open wound to where the infection started. I am still worried about him and hoping he gets better soon. It is just hard not knowing what is wrong with him.

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 16 months ago from USA

      Any arthritis? I would see a specialist when the regular vets have a hard time coming to a diagnosis. Look for a veterinarian specializing in orthopedics like a board-certified veterinary surgeon.

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      Kym 16 months ago

      Our 7 year old birder collie which we recently inherited is limping and carrying his front left leg, Prior to getting the dog he had an operation on his paw as the first vet said there was something in the paw and there was nothing found. We have now taken him to a vet and had xrays done. There is no deformities to the bone structure and no apparent injury. The vet does not know what is wrong. Can anyone assist?

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      Nick 16 months ago

      I have a 90 female Labrador. She has had a slight persistent limp, front right, for the last 2 wks. I put her on "bed rest" and it did improve. A significant change, a major change and likely cause of the limp is I moved and my apartment is on the 3rd story. She appears to be apprehensive of going down the stairs. Yesterday she had a lot more exercise than normal and she won't put any weight on the leg. She's severely hobbling. I suspect it's an injury to her wrist or elbow. Her forearm muscle has been noticeably tense at times. I'm suspecting it could be a torn ligament.

      I'm a little tight on money at the moment and an emergency vet is out of the question. I am going to take to her regular vet on Monday and have been carrying my 90 lbs dog up and down the stairs to do her business.

      She clearly is in pain when she walks. Struggles to rotate her body to get off my bed, and I have never seen a limp as severe as this before.

      So, my question is what can I do to help ease her pain and condition until I see the vet?

      Please help, I cancelled my Saturday night plans due to this and would appreciate any advice.

      Much appreciated in advance.

      Nick

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 16 months ago from USA

      Maybe you can try doggie boots? This can prevent contact with allergens, also some socks can prevent licking.

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      Karen 16 months ago

      I have a 13 year old American Bulldog that weights around 107. Trooper is in such severe pain when he walks, especially trying to get up & Down the steps. His feet swell so bad and break open & bleed. I was told by his vet that he is extremely allergenic to the grass. Steroids help a little but he gains so muc weight. You can tell he is in so much pain. He licks his paws & this keeps them irritated & bleeding. I have tried so many different solutions with no relief. Please give me information to help him enjoy his senior years without so much pain & where he can walk the steps again. He has about 8 to 9 steap steeps which when he gets to the top he can't catch breath for a good 10 minutes. I built Trooper a ramp but he would not use it. It was to steep. I will do anything you feel will help him in his elderly years. Thank you.

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      Roslyn 17 months ago

      I have a 9 month Pembroke welsh corgi she has no limp but is not running around or following us she lays still unless she needs to go potty. Took her the vet on Saturday he prodded and push found no sign of pain we took X-rays and did blood work he couldn't see anything in the X-ray when she goes potty she stands for a while and has uncontoralble shakes in her hind end. I just picked up anti inflammatory this morning. I have felt her entire body I have moved her neck to the left and right there's a bit of resistance moving to the right while standing I mover her back legs one at a time stretching behind and forward did the same to her left front her right front she whimpered so I think it's in her right front although there's no limp her gate looks normal she is careful tho stepping off and on to the conceret Shes slow she hasn't reached a round to lick herself and hasn't laided on her back like she normally does. Any suggestions please.

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      Only a vet visit can really tell what this is, often by doing x-rays, if it gets better and goes away in 48 hours it may just be a sprain. If it continues, it can be anything from Lyme disease, to growing pains (pano), a ligament tear, to a dislocated joint. So many possibilities!, which is why your vet needs x-rays. Since she seems in pain, I would take her to the vet sooner than later, best wishes for a speedy recovery!

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      adam 2 years ago

      my 11 month old puppy woke up this morning and is walking with limp . its in her hips her hind legs are not close together and she is slightly hunched when she walks. . She cant run jump is reluctant to step up or down a single stair . What can this be?? Please any information will be greatly appreciated. Thankyou

    • alexadry profile image
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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      At your dog's age it could be arthritis or since it's more than one leg affected something like an immune-mediated polyarthropathy , but best to have x-rays and see what's going on.

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      Tonyab 2 years ago

      I have a 13 yr old border collie/Aussie mix. She all of a sudden started limping on her back right leg & then shortly after wouldn't put any weight on it. The next morning she is putting very little weight on it but is now limping on the front right leg as well. She shows no sign of pain on examination. She is on Tramadol for pain. Any thoughts? She did have surgery 1 month ago & had a 2lb fatty tumor removed from the middle of her right side. She is eating & drinking just fine but does not want to get up to go outside to potty. This is a first for her & she is otherwise still an active dog. Also not in any tick area. Thank you

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      Poor Joey, can't blame him, he must love hunting so much! When my dog teared her ACL I had to find ways to keep her entertained and mentally stimulated during the day so I would put her kibble in Kongs and engage her in other foraging activities. Hunting for food was one of her favorite games, I would hide the kibble around the house and she would sniff her way to them.Tiring the mind can help tons in these cases. Best wishes for a speedy recovery!

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      Sharon Berry 2 years ago from Michigan

      Thank you so much for your input. Joey is 6 years old and will be 7 in March 2015. It is pheasant season here in Michigan and Joey is sadly missing his very favorite thing. Hope we can figure this out soon. We don't want to hunt him and aggravate the matter but he is definitely not happy with us :)

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 2 years ago from USA

      A torn cruciate ligament comes to mind, but only a positive drawer test or x-rays, possibly with sedation may tell. A soft tissue injury such as a sprain can be also possible, but normally you would see improvement with that. Dislocated joints are another possibility among the many orthopedic issues dogs may have. A pinched nerve or herniated disc in the neck or back may be an issue as well. An x-ray should be helpful since there are several abnormalities that cannot be detected by simple palpation. I don't know your dog;s age, but mild arthritis is also common in middle-aged pets and they often follow a pattern of pain upon getting up and less pain upon warming up. Just throwing out common findings I used to see at the vet. I hope your vet can pinpoint the problem so appropriate treatment can be started, best wishes for a speedy recovery.

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      Sharon Berry 2 years ago from Michigan

      Strange that I should come across this Hub. We have a German Wirehaired Pointer that started limping about 5 weeks ago. At first we thought he had pulled a muscle in his rear leg but it didn't seem to get any better. So, we took him to our Vet and after he examined him found there was inflammation in his knee and put him on some meds to take care of the inflammation. He has been on Rimadyl for 3 weeks with very little improvement. The only reason I write this is because the limping only happens after he is getting up from lying down. Once up he limps or won't put any weight on that leg for several steps but once he has taken a few steps he is off and running. He plays with the dog next door running and chasing each other, he chases a ball and you would never know there was a problem. Just as you think the problem is gone he lays down and a few minutes later he does the limp thing again. I guess our next step is to have x-rays. If you have any ideas about this please let me know. By the way, there is never any wincing or crying.

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      theBAT 3 years ago

      Thank you for this very informative hub. "Luxating Patella" is also a common defect in the Chihuahua breed. Can it be prevented? Will it naturally result to limping? Again thanks.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 3 years ago from USA

      Hi Susan, if you have time, let us know what your vets' findings were, best wishes for a speedy recovery!

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      Susan 3 years ago

      My 4 y/o doxie started walking on both distal joints of her right front foot today which causes a limp. Doesn't seem to hurt her. Can't see anything wrong. Palpates same as left foot. I will be taking her to vet in the a.m.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 3 years ago from USA

      Wiserworld,thanks for stopping by and commenting. It's sad when there's not much we can do to help our friends. My dogs are getting older so we have them on glucosamine.

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      wiserworld 3 years ago

      Used to have a Samoyed that had weak hind legs when he got older. There wasn't much we could do about it since it tends to be a genetic problem with the breed. Thanks for the article.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 3 years ago from USA

      Usually, minor sprains tend to get better with rest within 48 hours. Other issues may be difficult to pinpoint, which is why most vets after a physical exam will order x-rays. Many orthopedic issues cannot be pinpointed solely by visual/physical inspection and if a vet can't, as owners we can't as well.. Also, consider that rotts can be very good in hiding pain. Fact is, if a dog is limping there must be some level of pain, even though it's not evident as we would expect. A dog can have leg pain and not yelp, whine as we would expect a dog in pain will. There are more subtle signs of pain we may miss. For instance, my female Rott tore her cruciate ligament last April, and other than on and off limping, she never really yelped/whined or showed the traditional signs of discomfort we attribute to pain. She did though lick her lips and some times was panting which are more subtle signs of pain we often miss.

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      Shae 3 years ago

      My rotti is 7 years old, in good health, she is a runt so smaller than most, and very energetic. she is also very clumsy. The other day she started limping, and we aren't sure why. I stepped on her paw and she yelped the day before, but she still runs around and acts crazy on it. Some days aren't as good as others, and some days she only limps when she's tired. She stills sits and outs weight on it, she still chases the ball and runs without limping, she just does it when she walks. And doesn't seem to be in the slightest of pain. No swelling anywhere, no issues on the leg or the paw. No licking of any areas. She did just have a very big bone she was getting the meat off of for a few days I am thinking she might have sprained something, or as it's pretty snowy and cold out right now she might have got frostbite. No other changes to her than the slight limping. Any ideas?

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 3 years ago from USA

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      Bilal Rehman 3 years ago

      In which age German shaft dog's baby stand his ears

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 3 years ago from USA

      Thanks so much Christine for adding info on this condition, kind regards!

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      Christin 3 years ago from Sioux Falls, SD

      Thank you for your article! Well written & very informative. My dog has Leg Perthes Disease, which is another common cause of limping in dogs.

      Leg Perthes Disease involves spontaneous degeneration of the head on the femur bone, located in the dog's hind leg. This results in disintegration of the hip joint (coxofemoral) and bone and joint inflammation (osteoarthritis).

      The exact cause of the condition is unknown, though blood supply issues to the femoral head are usually seen in dogs suffering from Leg Perthes Disease. It is commonly seen in miniature, toy, and small-breed dogs, and has a genetic basis in Manchester terriers. Moreover, most dogs affected with Legg Perthes Disease are five to eight months in age.

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      Rebecca Mayglothling 4 years ago from Binghamton NY

      My dog was limping, and when I was checking out why, I found a tick attached to her hindquarters. She was in pain. Stupid ticks - my dog had Lyme Disease when I got her so I'm glad you mentioned that the disease will cause limping. The vet said Lyme Disease never goes away so I need to be very aware of the lifelong effects.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 4 years ago from USA

      Good to hear your dog is doing better. Licking is an instinctual way for a dog to try to ease pain. Don't hesitate to see the vet though if the limping persists, best wishes for a speedy recovery!

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      sethbest 4 years ago

      Thanks Alexadry!

      He's still limping but is looking much better today, guess it was a sprain. No more whimpering and occasionally he's even been walking normally. I'll wait another day before trying to walk again.

      He's been licking the bad arm oddly enough, I suppose that's instinctual.

      Anyways, your info helped keep me from getting too worked up, I can be a little overprotective of the old dog.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 4 years ago from USA

      In general, minor sprains tend to improve within 48 hours with rest, but we always made priority appointments though for dogs who couldn't put weight on the leg. You may see improvement because you are giving caprofen which works for pain and inflammation, so it's hard to see if he's getting better or not because of the med or because it was a minor injury. I would play it safe and see a vet if he doesn't put weight on it.

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      sethbest 4 years ago

      I have a 10 year old greyhound who has chronic issues with one of his back hips, but its mostly under control. Just yesterday though he was sprinting around the yard and hurt his front leg. He was fine on his walk afterwards but when we got home he started limping. By the night time he wouldn't put any weight on the front leg.

      He's been whimpering when he has to get up from his dog bed and is having trouble getting up and down. Palpating the leg I found that it hurts him when the leg is straightened and when i press into the shoulder joint from underneath.

      Hes on fish oil, glucosamine, and special hip treats, and I've been giving him the Carpofen the vet prescribed for when his hip acts up since the injury. It's only been 12 hours so far I'm trying to decide how long I should wait for improvement before bringing him in.

      Any tips you have would be greatly appreciated!

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 4 years ago from USA

      Unfortunately, this is something only your vet can tell by taking some x-rays of the leg. At times, old injuries may re-surface if the dog puts strain again on an injured leg and this could explain why you are seeing symptoms again. It could be that leg simply never healed properly. Is this a torn cruciate ligament? If so she shouldn't be allowed to run and slipping can make the injury worse. Only the x-ray may ultimately give your vet an idea of what may be going on and what can be done to make that leg better again. I hope your pup gets better soon, best wishes!

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      shivali24 4 years ago

      We happen to live in North India. We brought a stray 1 month old puppy home after she met with an accident. She was in extreme pain and was unable to move . She was given painkiller for 5 days, due to which she started feeling better but for few days we could see her limping on her right back leg . A month after her accident, we noticed that she was perfectly fine. The she was vaccinated for 3 months in a row . When she was about 6 months old she again started limping and since then the situation is same. Now she is 9 months old. I am confused as to why she started limping again when she was fine for 3-4 months after accident. Please be noted that she doesn't allow us to touch the hip area or leg but it seems that pain is mild. She even runs fast but sometimes unable to maintain balance and slips .Why is she limping and can her limping problem be cured without surgery? Kindly advise .

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 4 years ago from USA

      Any lump, please see your vet. Even the vet cannot tell you exactly what it is if it's a lump until he does a fine needle aspiration. Just as in humans, all lumps need to be checked unfortunately, best wishes!

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      scott.l 4 years ago

      please help my dog has a lump on her front left leg which she keeps licking and bitingt. The lump is about 1 cm wide its dark round the edges with pink in the middle like raw skin.she has now started limping and im getting worried.i dont know if she has been bitten by a tik and shes bitten it off.has anyone had the same problem? I would be very greatful if you could reply thanks.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 4 years ago from USA

      If he recovered completely after 3 days it could have been a simple sprain. However, if it continues see your vet as it can be something more that needs attention. I don't like the fact that he can't put his weight on it.

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      EmmaP 4 years ago

      Hi, My dog is a small mongrel about 6 and 1/2yrs old. Over the last month when we have taken him for a walk, shortly after we get home he has started limping to the point where he won't put any weight on his back leg. The following day he is back to normal again, depending on how vigarous the walk was, my step mum took him out the other day whilst we were at work and it took him 3 days of not going out to recover. Do you know why this could be? Thanks

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 4 years ago from USA

      Christ thanks for stopping by. It's true, several times a minor limping may go away on its own, but dog limping is one of the first signs of osteosarcoma and can be also a sign of a systemic disease such as valley fever, so it never hurts to be safe than sorry.

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      Chris 4 years ago

      Great, concise article and it hits on all the key points. Our corgi when 4 yrs old started to limp really badly. We took him to several doctors then finally to the specialist clinic for an MRI. The doc said save your money this dog will get better. It took three months but he was right...the dog healed completely. Now 3 years later every once in awhile after playing fetch, he will limp. We have to be careful with him. But I don't freak out over it like I did when it first happened. Not playing fetch is not an option, this little guy lives for this game.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

      You are welcome, I hope all turns out OK with the dog limping problem.

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      fly2cin 5 years ago

      thanks a ton for your prompt response...will follow your instructions and keep you informed on the updates.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

      In the case of fractious dogs, you can get a muzzle and get him used to it. Make sure several hours ahead the appointment you feed him treats through the muzzle and gradually slip it on as you feed. When you take the muzzle off no more treats. Do this several times until he is comfortable wearing it. With a muzzle on your vet should be able to safely draw blood from him and you can help hold him if necessary. Perhaps the vet may want to do an x-ray too. This sounds something that needs to be seen. Best wishes.

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      fly2cin 5 years ago

      Hii...I want your advice..I have a doberman breed male dog of 8 years old, he had fever 2 weeks back. So when i gave medicine fever is cured..then this Monday he started limping..his rear right feet is not touching the ground...so i gave a painkiller (diclofenac) then next day was ok..he was touching his feet on ground..then next day again he not keeping his leg on ground and has swelling on his feet from the ankle to the bottom of paw..since my dog is not so friendly and not listens to me much..so its difficult to take him to vet...I gone and met vet so he said he needs see the dog and he wants to do a blood test since he fears bcos of age dog may have got any bold clot inside so Vet want to do a blood test. So i suggested him that I will give sleeping pills to dog and bring to the clinic to which he said when given any medicine the blood test will not be correct...so now he gave a topical analgesic spray and one oral suspension of meloxicam..but now the swelling increased and there is more swelling rite at the ankle..can you suggest what to do?

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

      If this is just a sprain, it gets better generally better within 48 hours. I would follow the vet's advice and keep an eye on her. Any signs of limping after a few days despite rest and medication, deserves attention for further investigation. It is hard to say what this could be without doing x-rays, which is why the vet suggested this if the limping continues .I hope this helps, best wishes!

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      angie 5 years ago

      hey,

      we have a 4 year old lhasa apso. she's had both of her luxating patellas fixed about 2 years ago and seemed to be doing great. yesterday out of nowhere she started limping on her rear left leg.. i took her to the vet immediately and as soon as she went it, she started running around and not limping at all.. the vet examined her and said her knees and her hips are fine, that it's most likely a sprain so she put her on metacam for a week. she said to wait 3-4 days to see if she gets better, and if not, to bring her in for exrays. this happened yesterday, and today i didn't notice any limping at all. do you think i should take her in again next week regardless or leave it alone if she doesn't limp anymore? is it possible that it's her ACL? she didn't seem to mind at all when the vet was examining her leg. it literally happened out of the blue.. she's not a very active dog, kinda lazy actually.. and we live in canada.. any advice would be appreciated

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      KitKat 5 years ago

      Hey,

      We have a black lab (around 8 years old, unsure because he was a rescued dog many years ago) whose limping on his rear right leg. One day we just noticed that he was limping after playing fetch and taking walks but we hoped it would wear off. Now he still continues to limp but it's worse. He has a hard time standing up and doesn't even use the leg, he hops using his three good legs. We never saw him get injured or anything. What could be the problem?

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

      Happy to hear he is doing better. Good you found a way to compromise: smaller doses but yet enough to help him feel better.

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      Avery2011 5 years ago

      He was completely fine today. I felt so bad for him. I just gave him a fourth of the pain med the vet prescribed him.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

      Vets as doctors have different approaches when it comes to treatment plans. Some are very conservative and try to avoid prescribing pills when deemed unnecessary, others seem to prescribe something for even the smallest issue. On one hand, consider the potential for side effects. Google Rimadyl kills or previcox kills and you may see pain killers for dogs from a different perspective. Yet, it is also true that there hundreds of dogs on these drugs doing just fine. Another consideration is that you want a certain level of pain so to prevent your dog from overusing the legs affected. If you put your dog on pain killers, with no pain your dog may overexert himself yielding to more pain after ward. So to treat or not to treat? The good thing is that pano eventually resolves on its own even without treatment. The use of meds is mainly to help the dog cope with pain. It is up to you if you want to give him relief or if you think the pain is bearable and does not affect much your dog's enjoyment of life. It is really a personal choice as "should I treat my headache or make it run its course?

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      Avery2011 5 years ago

      I have a Golden Retriever, Avery, that is 13 months old. The vet told me that he had pano after I noticed him limping around 6months old. He switches from leg to leg. Last night, he was so bad off that he could barely get up. Earlier that day, I took him outside and we went for a walk and played fetch and he seemed fine. I have never seen it this bad and am wondering if I should take him back to the vet or if that is normal with pano. Instead of him limping on just one leg, it seemed like he was limping on two- one front and one back leg. I got advice from two different vets after the first diagnosed him and they all had different solutions. One was pushing pills down Avery's throat every day while the other said not to give him any medicine at all. What do you think I should do?

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

      Sorry, there are no home remedies for broken limbs! the dog should see a vet, any chances you can borrow some money from friends/family?

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      Selina 5 years ago

      My Cocker Spaniel jumped out the bed and now she wont put weight on her hind right leg. I think it may be broke, and I can't afford to take her to the vet. Any suggestions

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      altaangel 5 years ago

      no they haven't. we are going to let him rest and if it continues, we will take him in and get X-rays done.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

      Did the vet do x-rays? this is the first thing I would recommend.

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      Angel 5 years ago

      Thank you for posting this article, it was very informative but I still am unsure what to do with my dog. My dog is a 5 1/2 year old Lab mix. He has been limping periodically on his back left leg. My vet a few months back told me his knee was swollen and gave me a prescriiption for Rimadyl and told me to have him take it easy for a while. We didn't take him on walks and he was not happy about it and would whine to go. After a while we took him out again and he seemed ok. He gets around fine, he goes upstairs on the bed, runs and plays with the other dogs, and runs through the forest. He seems fine and doesn't complain or back down. After he will rest as usual but when he gets up he will limp for a bit but eventually will put weight back on his leg. Sometimes after a lot of activity he seems more hesitant to jump on the bed but he does it anyways. He doesn't wimpier at all and I just don't know if he wants to play and have attention so much, he just ignores the pain. I feel like I want to put a brace on his knee for support like a human but I don't know if there is such a thing or if it would help. For now we are going to keep him in for a while. I don't know what is wrong and I am afraid the vet is going to tell me he needs some expensive surgery. Does his symptoms sound familiar? Any feedback would be very much appreciated.

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      LifeStylePets 5 years ago from Florida

      Very informative Hub! Do you think any of this could relate to a cat also?

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

      Generally, yes.. sprains tend to get better in 48 hours, keep an eye in your dog and have him see the vet if it does not get better or gets worse, best wishes!

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      Germanyguy 5 years ago

      my gsd has been limping but getting better, is this mean it was just a sprain?

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      Josh Tucker 5 years ago from Woodson, IL 62695

      Good Article.

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      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

      If rest and medication did not bring relief I would suggest going to the vet and having it x-rayed. Rubbing helps determine if there are painful areas, but the whole weight being put on the leg cannot be mimicked by rubbing. Therefore rubbing is self-limiting when trying to make a diagnosis.