Causes of Dog Limping After Sleeping
So your dog has been lying down, or perhaps even sleeping, and as he gets up, he limps for a few steps. The limping is noticeable for the most part for a few seconds, but after this he walks normally, as if nothing ever happened. What gives?
This limping shouldn't be confused with a dog stretching after getting up. Some dogs will stretch their back legs straight and then drag them for just a little—silly dogs! One moment you are thinking about calling your vet and the next, your dog is acting fine. So should you or shouldn't you call the vet? Is it possible that the dog just slept in a bad position and that the one of its legs fell asleep? This is certainly an interesting question. It happens to us humans occasionally, so why not to Rover?
Dog's Leg Falls Asleep
First of all, why do limbs fall asleep in the first place? This happens when pressure is put on certain nerves and blood vessels associated with sensation. That prolonged pressure causes the nerves to go a little haywire because the communication between the limb and the brain becomes erratic or is lost. This leads to a tingling, pins-and-needles sensation known as paresthesia.
All it takes to bring sensation back is to move about a bit so that the blood flows back to the limb, boosting the misfiring nerves until the signals flow again properly.
Can This Happen to Dogs?
One answer comes from a veterinarian who answered this very question in an online forum. He writes that dog legs can indeed fall asleep. When this happens, the dog may acting normally until he notices his leg doesn't work. He'll be dragging it or stop moving altogether until sensation comes back. Sensitive dogs may even yelp or lick/bite at their legs when they feel that unpleasant tingling sensation.
It's helpful to note the position your dog is sleeping in and see if there's a pattern. You should definitively see your vet if your dog limps after getting up several times in one day. While a dog's leg may fall asleep occasionally, it definitively shouldn't happen repeatedly or every single time your dog awakens from a nap. If that's the case, there may other causes.
The vet also notes that the limping starts in another context (the dog was not lying down for long or at all), then the dog should see a vet.
Why a Dog May Often Limp After Lying Down
A common explanation for frequent limping after lying down is arthritis.
A dog with arthritis will limp after lying down for sometime, but according to VetInfo.com, these dogs also walk more slowly than they used to, their gait may change, and there may be tenderness, warmth, and swelling around their joints. The dog may also manifest problems in sitting, jumping, climbing, squatting, getting up, and lying down.
After a few steps, even a dog with arthritis may begin to walk more normally. The joint warms up and joint fluid lubricates the area, allowing easier movement. This process is similar to the way that bloodflow helps a dog's leg when it has fallen asleep.
There are many things you can do to help a dog with arthritis. Acupuncture and supplements such as chondroitin, glucosamine, Vitamin E, and fatty acids can be helpful. In more severe cases, a dog may need non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs.
Injury and Other Causes of Limping
There are other possible causes for limping:
- Joint injury
- Soft-tissue injury
- Cruciate ligament tear
- Dysplastic hips
- Broken bone
- Hairline fracture
- Herniated disc
If you are concerned about your dog's limping, don't hesitate to bring him in to see a vet to obtain an accurate diagnosis.
Disclaimer: this article is fruit of my research on the topic and shouldn't be used or relied on for any diagnosis or treatment. If your dog is limping, please see your vet. By reading this article, you accept this disclaimer.
Have you ever seen your dog's leg fall asleep?
For further reading
- Dog Health: Signs and Symptoms of Dog Hip Dysplasia
Learn the signs and symptoms of his dysplasia in dogs. Learn some effective strategies and products to make your dog's hip pain more bearable.
- Causes of Limping in Dogs
Learn about some of the most common dog limping causes. Find out how to palpate the leg to pin-point problems and potential causes for front leg limping and rear leg limping in dogs.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
My dog is not in pain, but why is she limping?
A dog who is limping is in pain. Dogs do not manifest pain in the same way we do. If it hurts to put the leg down, rather than saying "ouch" the dog will limp.Helpful 47