Dr. Mark is a veterinarian. He has been working with dogs for more than 40 years.
What to Do When No Vet Is Available
In some parts of the world, no small animal veterinarian is available. In other countries, like here in Brazil, there are plenty of small animal veterinarians in big cities like Rio and São Paulo, but none in isolated rural areas like parts of the Amazon. Whether you live in an area without a vet, or are just traveling with your dog, sometimes your pet needs help and no one is available.
A lame dog needs veterinary care, if available. If none is available, they need some assistance. When your dog starts limping, it is best to find out what is wrong as soon as possible. If you are in an isolated area, you might need help (from a feed store, pet shop, or pharmacy), but you can do a lot yourself.
Find out what is wrong so you can do what needs to be done, but no more. If your hunting dog only has a cut on their pad, you do not need to give them steroids. A pet with a bee sting does not need to be treated for a broken bone.
Step Back and Look
Find out first why your dog is limping; not all lameness looks the same. If your dog is in so much pain that they cannot even put their weight down, it will be obvious which limb is affected and your exam can go on from there.
If not, watch them walk for a while and you might be able to tell where the problem is. Sometimes a dog will only be lame when walking, and they will raise their head up when they put the sore leg down, then lower it down again when walking on the good leg. Sometimes a dog will have a stiff limb when walking but show no other signs. Once you have figured out which leg is causing problems, you should do a better examination.
Front Leg Lameness
- Look at the pads of the foot and see if there are any obvious cuts, sores, or swellings.
- Is there anything stuck between the pads, like a thorn, rock, or an inflamed tick?
- Check the nails. Squeeze each nail at the base and move it around a little; sometimes nothing is obvious but your dog will cry out when you touch the painful nail.
- Flex the foot and then the wrist, the joint above the foot. If your dog has been licking at one spot, that may be the site of the injury, or maybe even a sign of arthritis. Arthritis is much more common in older dogs but can even affect young dogs.
- Run your hand up and down the long bones of the leg. If there is a broken bone or other injury, there may be swelling and your dog may yelp or snap.
- Move the elbow.
- Rub the muscles of the shoulder. Gently rotate the whole leg in a circular motion.
Rear Leg Lameness
- Check the pads for any cuts, abrasions, or swellings.
- Run your fingers between each toe to check for thorns, gravel, or injuries to the soft skin of the webbing.
- Examine each nail. Look for cracks, and touch them all to see how your dog reacts.
- Flex the bones of the foot and then the joint just above the foot.
- Open and close the hock (the joint just above the foot).
- Run your hand up and down the long bones of the legs. Do not assume that any swelling is a broken bone, since a bee sting or snake bite can cause swelling too.
- When you get to the knee, pay special attention. Tiny dogs are more likely to have a kneecap that slides from side to side. If it is “stuck,” the dog will be lame. Active dogs are more likely to suffer from torn cruciate ligaments and the knee bones might slide back and forth.
- Rotate the leg at the hip. If the dog is in pain, they may be suffering from arthritis in the hips.
Simple Treatments for Common Injuries
Here are some small things you can do to help common injuries.
Injuries to the Paw Pad
Clean the wound with water, physiologic saline, or dilute hydrogen peroxide. Disinfect it with a diluted tincture of iodine. If they have a deep wound, it is a good idea to pack in a little antibiotic ointment and, if the dog is the kind that licks at their wounds excessively, wrap it with some gauze.
You can even put Vetrap on the wound to keep it all in place. If you do need to use Vetrap, make sure you leave the toes visible to watch for swelling when the bandage is too tight. If you are not sure how to do this, just leave the dog's wound clean and unwrapped. You can cover the foot with a sock when they go outside to do their business but take the sock off as soon as they are back inside.
Injuries to the Webbing
If your dog is injured in the webbing, that delicate skin between the toes, remove whatever is causing the injury and then wash the area out with water, saline, or dilute hydrogen peroxide. Sterilize it with betadine (or chlorhexidine if you have it available), and it should be okay. If it is bleeding, the foot will need to be wrapped; just make sure the toes are visible to watch for swelling. If you do notice any swelling, remove the bandage immediately to prevent gangrene.
Read More From Pethelpful
Injuries to Toenails
Any time a toenail is injured, you need to make sure and check all of them since any long toenail can get caught in grass or weeds and become injured. Clean the injured toenail, and if it is bleeding wrap it up for about 15 minutes or until the bleeding stops.
Any joints that are sore should be massaged and wrapped up for at least 15 minutes in a wrapped ice pack. Some of the massage gels available help a lot but be sure to clean the gel off after you are done so that your dog does not lick it off. If you are not sure what kind of knee injury your dog has and you need more details on that problem, you can read more about first aid for cruciate injuries.
If the dog has a broken long bone, the best thing you can do is keep them quiet as possible. Your dog will need to get up sometimes, of course, and to help this you can apply a temporary splint with a magazine held in place by duct tape. This “magazine-splint” is very temporary, and should not be left on all of the time or it can cause ulcers where it rubs against the body. Read the section below on antibiotics.
Any swelling over a bite could be a bee sting, an insect bite, or even a snake bite. Where I live, many of the large farmers keep snakebite antivenin on hand for their cattle, and know which vipers are most likely to bite. In some places a polyvalent antivenin is available that treats dogs bitten by most snakes. A dog that has been bitten, however, may not survive like a cow would, because of their small size relative to the amount of venom injected.
If you see swelling, clip the hair above the wound and look for the type of bite (insect or snake). Give the dog an antihistamine right away (like diphenhydramine, 5mg/kg) but do not give any aspirin for the first day since bleeding may be severe. The wound will probably become infected, so if he survives the effects of the venom, he will need antibiotics.
Bee Sting or Insect Bite
A bee sting or insect bite will probably get better by itself but some insects cause more swelling and pain than others. If you do not know the common stinging insects in your area, be sure to ask. If you have an antihistamine, you can give your dog a dose (oral diphenhydramine, 3mg/kg twice a day) to reduce the swelling and make the pain less severe.
What About Other Medications?
Here are some medications you can consider.
All of the anti-inflammatory drugs can cause problems, but if your dog is in pain, then aspirin is the safest. You can give about 8–20 mg/kg/every 24 hours. Give the smallest dose first, see how she responds, and then only give more if needed the next day. (Aspirin can upset the stomach of some dogs so I like to give it with a meal, something like lunchmeat, if she is upset and not eating well.)
It is difficult for me to recommend any particular antibiotics since there are so many different formulations available in different countries. If your dog has a broken bone, she might need antibiotics, but you should consult a local pharmacy or feed store to find out which suitable antibiotics are available in your location.
A Word of Caution
I wrote this article because many of the people I have met out in the country have no access to veterinary care for their dogs. If your dog is lame, and the problem is not obvious or easily treatable, please visit a small animal veterinarian if you have access.
Some problems cannot be diagnosed except with blood work or an X-ray, and some dogs will have conditions that will require surgery. A sore joint may be due to a tick-borne disease, and no amount of rest will help. A sore leg might be broken because of osteosarcoma (bone cancer), and if it is not treated promptly and aggressively your dog is going to die. Do everything you can. Your dog is depending on you.
A Homemade Muzzle
Some causes of lameness can be very painful and even the calmest dog might snap without meaning to. This video describes how to apply a muzzle using the gauze that you should have available in your dog's first-aid kit.
Fowler D. Distal limb and paw injuries. Vet Clin North Am Small Anim Pract. 2006 Jul;36(4):819-45. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16787789/
Sellon DC, Marcellin-Little DJ. Risk factors for cranial cruciate ligament rupture in dogs participating in canine agility. BMC Vet Res. 2022 Jan 15;18(1):39. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35033070/
Bajwa J. (2016). Canine pododermatitis. The Canadian veterinary journal = La revue veterinaire canadienne, 57(9), 991–993. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4982575/
Leisewitz AL, Blaylock RS, Kettner F, Goodhead A, Goddard A, Schoeman JP. The diagnosis and management of snakebite in dogs--a southern African perspective. J S Afr Vet Assoc. 2004 Mar;75(1):7-13. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15214688/
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
Question: My five-year-old lab was running through the yard and suddenly start yelping and wouldn't put weight on his rear right leg. I examined it and nothing seems broken. He let me bend all of his joints, but he won't put any weight on it. I don't want to rush to an emergency vet if it not needed since we live in a very rural area. Should I wait a day or so to see if he ends up putting weight on it?
Answer: The most likely cause of a running lab showing sudden lameness without obvious cause is a cruciate injury. Read this article to get some ideas on first aid: https://hubpages.com/dogs/dog-cruciate-ligament-re...
Question: My eleven-year-old staff cross is limping, but has no sign of pain when touched. What could cause this?
Answer: The most common cause of lameness in an older large breed dog is arthritis. IF she is not painful when touched it is probably early. Take her to your regular vet and have her leg x-rayed to look for signs of arthritic changes in the joints.
Question: My beagle won't put weight on his hind foot/leg. After laying around for a few minutes, he will stand up but will walk with a slight limp till he's loosened up. I've checked everywhere, and he shows no sign of pain. Do you have any idea what could be wrong?
Answer: It is possible that your beagle has a cruciate ligament injury: https://pethelpful.com/dogs/dog-cruciate-ligament-...
It is also possible that he has a patellar problem, but that is not as likely to disappear as he warms up. I recommend having his leg x-rayed to look for deformations or problems with the femoral head.
Question: My 7-month-old Pomeranian limps on her back leg sometimes. She will still run and play but will limp ever so often. I have checked her pads and nails, and she seems to be fine. Do you have any idea what might be going on? She’s been limping on and off for three weeks or so.
Answer: The most common cause of limping in a tiny dog of that age is a luxating patella. That is when the kneecap moves out of place and gets "stuck." The dog will limp until it moves back into place.
It is painful. It will grow worse with time. You should read more about this and get your dog examined.
Here are some alternatives you can try if your dog is diagnosed with a bad knee: https://pethelpful.com/dogs/how-to-fix-a-trick-kne...
Question: I was walking my dog and all of a sudden she jumped up and started to cry. Now she is limping. Could it be a possible insect sting?
Answer: An insect sting is certainly a possibility. You do not mention what leg she is limping on. There are many more possibilities. Is there any swelling or localized pain? If there is a spot you can treat, you can try putting a cold pack on it and see if your dog feels better in the morning. If she does not, or you do not find anything that can be treated, she will need to be examined by your regular vet.
Question: My dog is limping. Occasionally, she walks on her foot, but even then when she stands, she holds the leg up. She will run on it because of her anxiety, but then limp. What do I do besides bring her to the vet?
Answer: It depends on the size of the dog. It depends on whether it is the front foot or the back. The article details what to do without going to the vet. If it is a back foot, and you suspect an injury to the knee, also check out https://hubpages.com/dogs/dog-cruciate-ligament-re...
If it is a small dog, and a back leg is affected, consider a luxating patella https://hubpages.com/dogs/how-to-fix-a-trick-knee-...
Question: My fifteen-month-old dog has been limping on his front leg, but will put pressure on it, and it doesn't stop him from doing anything. What could this be? I have also checked for pain and swollen areas, but there is nothing.
Answer: Since you have not found any swelling or painful areas, it could be a pulled muscle or an injured joint. If you take your dog to an emergency clinic they will probably give him an anti-inflammatory injection. I think you should hold off it he is not in pain and just rest him. If he is used to getting up on the couch, pick him up. Do not take him for a long walk.
If this is still a problem tomorrow, you can give a first dose of aspirin as recommended in the article. See how he does with just rest first.
Question: My three-and-a-half-month-old puppy spent yesterday roughhousing with an eight-month-old puppy. At first, he showed no sign of being hurt (i.e., no yelping, no sign of not wanting to roughhouse, etc.), but this morning he woke up with a slight limp on his front right leg. There was no sign of any pain or discomfort when I touched his leg and foot, and he's still happy to run and jump off the sofa. He still has a slight limp, but the limp gets better once he’s loosened up a bit. What could be wrong and how can I help?
Answer: Palpate the joints on the front leg with the limp as soon as the puppy wakes up. Does one part of the leg feel more painful than the other?
I cannot recommend giving a little puppy aspirin even if you do find it. Your vet might want to give your dog pain medication, based on the exam, but if this continues, it is important to have him examined first.
If you do not, and the puppy is suffering from an injury to the growth plates in his front leg, he might develop a deformed leg later in life.
Question: My pit has been limping for about ten days. I went through all of the steps in the article and he does not wince or seem to be in pain, other than limping. Should I take him for a vet visit or if I should wait it out longer?
Answer: You do not indicate where the limping is, or how bad it is. If your dog has been limping for ten days he is probably in pain, so I would recommend taking him into your vet so that his knees can be evaluated. It might be something very minor and he might do okay after a simple anti-inflammatory injection.
Question: My puppy jumped from my kid's bed and hurt its front paw. Joints are all bending with no pain but later on, I noticed a toe is swelling. It has been 24 hours and now refuses to put any pressure on the foot. What should I do?
Answer: He needs an anti-inflammatory to decrease the swelling and pain. With such a tiny and young puppy though I am hesitant to suggest you use an over the counter solution. Please make an appointment and take him to your regular vet.
Question: My 6 year old Yorkie just started limping yesterday. She has a floating knee cap on her rear leg. Is there a way I can help her without taking her to the vet?
Answer: There are many ways you can help her. Weight control is one of the most important. Here is an article to give you more details: https://pethelpful.com/dogs/how-to-fix-a-trick-kne...
Question: My frenchie won't put his back leg down on the floor. He will sleep on it and put all his weight on top of it. He isn't crying or yelping. Is this serious?
Answer: If you have checked everything on the list, and still can not find anything that is wrong, it is probably the knee. Frenchies are prone to luxating patellas because of the way they are built.
Is it serious? Yes, it might eventually need surgery. Is it an emergency? Not at all. Many dogs go for a long time with a luxating patella, but when it is bothering them, they have to be carried. Get him to your regular vet when you can and have him checked out.
Make SURE that everything else is okay by checking the pads, the toes, etc., as described in the article. There is no way I can diagnose this over the internet, so I am depending on you to do an exam so that we can be sure it is his knee that is bothering him.
If you would like to read more about alternative methods to take care of a bad knee, read this article: https://pethelpful.com/dogs/how-to-fix-a-trick-kne...
Question: My staffy is limping on his back leg. We cant get to the vet, and he will not stop drinking water and moving around. What do I do?
Answer: Try your best to keep him quiet.
If he is limping on his back leg, he may have injured his knee. If the cruciate ligament is strained, but not torn, he can injure it a lot further. Take a look at this article for some first aid tips: https://hubpages.com/dogs/dog-cruciate-ligament-re...
If this does not seem to be a cruciate injury, then try to examine everything and see what you can find. This is an article I wrote for people that have a lame dog but can not get to the vet: https://hubpages.com/dogs/diagnosing-your-dogs-lam...
Question: My dog is limping on his front leg and sticks it out to one side so that he does not put any weight on it. The elbow and shoulder are hot. He just turned 5, so it's not elbow dysplasia, and our vet says he's at risk for arthritis because of a former injury to a different leg, but she also says arthritis doesn't appear that quickly. What's wrong with him?
Answer: Although I cannot diagnose your dog based on those clinical symptoms, I can suggest some treatment options.
Arthritis can occur in young dogs, and may appear suddenly because we miss the signs of it coming on. Conventional treatments are NSAIDs like aspirin (about 10mg/kg every 24 hours) or some of the newer NSAIDs that you will only be able to get through your vet. I do not recommend Rimadyl.
If this condition does not seem to be getting any better in a reasonable time period (a month or so) you really should try to refer him to your closest veterinary college or referral orthopedic practice. It is possible that he has an injury to his joint that your regular vet was not able to identify.
Question: My nine-month-old German Shepard started limping on his rear leg, and he won't put pressure on it. He also won't eat his food. I think it may be his hip, but he is very young. Do you have any ideas?
Answer: It might also be a knee injury. The best thing you can do for your dog is let her rest. If things do not get better, you will want to have her examined.
Read this article for more details: https://hubpages.com/dogs/dog-cruciate-ligament-re...
Question: We are camping and cannot get to a vet, but our Rottweiler is limping on his back leg after playing with our German Shepherd. His back leg looks okay, but his knee is kind of touchy. What should I do?
Answer: If you go to the article at https://hubpages.com/dogs/dog-cruciate-ligament-re... you can see some first aid recommendations for what is most likely a damaged cruciate. You will need to go to a vet later for definitive diagnosis, but the most important thing you can do now provides your dog with rest. Do not let him go hiking with you, do not let him play with your GSD, and you need to pick him up and let him down out of your car.
If you do not provide strict rest at this time, your Rottie´s knee will get even worse. If it gets worse, he will have problems for years to come.
© 2016 Dr Mark
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on August 31, 2020:
Shekyra, back or front? If you cannot take care of it now,the best thing is rest; details of an anti-inflammatory like aspirin is in the article.
Shekyra Dixon on August 30, 2020:
My 9 year old German Shepard mixed dog hurt her self playing and fall on the ground last week There is no sign of any broken bones just a little limp now she doesn’t want to put any pressure one the leg And I can’t afford a vet at the moment what should I do?
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on August 16, 2020:
Jude, I would definitely not consider it an emergency. See how he does today and if by tomorrow mid-day he is still limping call your local vet. A lot of times puppies of that age will just run into a wall or fall down when playing and there is not much more to do than just give an anti-inflammatory.
Jude Wolf on August 15, 2020:
My foster pup (8ish weeks old) started limping on his back leg(yesterday morning). At first it was barely noticeable, but he can only put a little weight on it now. He acts completely normal otherwise. He doesn't show any signs of pain whatsoever. We can touch him everywhere and flex everything without him even flinching. It isn't getting better and it isn't getting worse. Should we get him into the vet?
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 30, 2020:
Bella, the most likely problem is a luxating patella but I assume she was checked for this. It may also be Legg-Calves disease and it is possible that the changes in the hips are not evident enough to show any changes. Have you consulted an orthopedic surgeon for a consult? (I am not sure that is indicated yet, but it is an option if this gets worse.) Also consider a consult at your state´s veterinary college. A lot more eyes will look at radiographs/etc.
Bella on July 29, 2020:
Hi, We have 10 year old happy, active, playful Yorki-Poo. On the 4th of July she walked from the driveway to the wooded area next to our property. When I brought her back, he started limping.(left rear leg). We looked at her paws and felt and examined her leg, but could see nothing different. After a week, we took her to the vet. She examined her paw and her entire leg. They also took x-rays and they were normal. They prescribed Carprofin and sent her home with little to no activity instructions. A week later she was still limping. They stretched her leg every possible way and checked the knee again. Not even a whimper. They mentioned a K-lazer treatments but never got a diagnosis. Well it's almost a month and she's still limping. She eats and plays normally. No vomiting or diarrhea. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciate, Thank you.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 16, 2020:
cassandra--in a dog of that size a cruciate injury is most likely. The most important thing you can do is allow the dog to rest, but there are directions on aspirin doses in the article above. Please take the time to read this article about medical care for cruciate injuries https://pethelpful.com/dogs/dog-cruciate-ligament-...
firstname.lastname@example.org on July 15, 2020:
My pittbull dog is limp on her left back leg.I check her leg and paws.also check to see if anything is broken no bone.Her knee feel swollen what can I give her she is 90 lbs.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on July 02, 2020:
Denis--not sure about the leg you said that is giving out, because at that age arthritis and cruciate problems do not exist. Injury is more likely. The cuts on the rear pads sound unrelated. All I can suggest if this continues is consult a local vet that can examine your pup.
Denis Szychulski on June 29, 2020:
Hello, i just bought a 9 week old Chesapeake bay retriever. The 1st 2 days at home were fine. Noticed he has 2 small cuts on rear pads today. But his left leg seems to give out somtimes. No pain ..runs jumps all over when not sleeping. Should I be worried?
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on June 27, 2020:
Nicole, if this were only one leg I would tend to think it was a cruciate injury. https://pethelpful.com/dogs/dog-cruciate-ligament-...
Since you said it is both sides, and seems to be okay when warmed up like with walking, there is a chance she is already having hip dysplasia and secondary problems from that. Have her examined by your regular vet and have x-rays taken of her hips.
Nicole from South Africa on June 27, 2020:
My 1yr old Border Collie X Retriever is showing signs of lameness in her back legs, more so her left hind than her right - she holds her leg up every now and then when walking and eating, in the mornings she is perfectly fine with no limping and when we go for walks there is no limping whatsoever (fetching a ball, running around with her friends etc)
Can anyone advise what to do?
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on June 23, 2020:
Eva--it might be nerve damage. There is no way to predict if it is going to get better. You could take him to a university vet school for an EEG/further workup, or just wait and see if it improves.
Bailey--if there is nothing in the pad and you can not have it looked at (anti-inflammatories, maybe antibiotics) then rest is the best alternative.
Ahleiga-- read more about luxating patella. This may help https://pethelpful.com/dogs/how-to-fix-a-trick-kne...
Ahleigha on June 22, 2020:
My dog Trixie is a little weiner dog. She is walking fine but when you pick her up she weins and wont put her back leg out. She weins when touching her lower stomach area near her back knee. Also, she looks for a place to hide.
Bailey Michelson on June 22, 2020:
My 6 year old west highland terrier is limping and will put little to know pressure on his hind leg. We cheapies all of this leg and his paw seems to be a bit sore to him. We live in the country and would be hard to drive to a city in this pandemic. We’re not sure what to do.
Eva B on June 22, 2020:
My little 45 pound beagle mix was hit by a car and he had road rash and they found no broken bones. However he has a hole in the joint of his elbow and they just sewed it up. My dogs front limb is lifeless he will not use it and the vets say they dont know why he wont use it. Coukd he
KATHY Tunney on June 19, 2020:
My four yr old Aussie is limping on her right front leg. Vet said no signs of damage, swelling etc. No blood work or exrays thought. It is the worst when she get up from a laying position. She runs around fine. Also weird is that she is not eating much.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on May 22, 2020:
Stelle on May 14, 2020:
My French mastiff x Pitt is 2 years old. Still has her appetite, still very active still acting her very self apart from a limp she has developed in her rear left leg. She has put on a bit of weight recently so not sure if this has contributed in anyway.
She does not seem to be in any pain and have pressed along her leg and does not flinch. She just sometimes cannot put any weight on it and lumps and then she is able to walk again, although I have noticed she never actually puts her full weight on it at all. It’s always slightly hovering.
Have lifted her leg back and doesn’t hurt, but if I left opposite leg she cannot hold the weight on the original limping leg.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated
Kaila on May 12, 2020:
I don’t know what’s going on that my dog have his back leg up while walking
Aubrey on April 29, 2020:
My Dog came back from running in the woods and can not put weight on rear leg. He shows no signs of pain when we examine (paw, webbing skin, muscles etc) He is 5 years old, healthy and active. Curious how to check it is a muscle or ligament injury without going to the vet? How to know if he needs surgery? Thank you!!!
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on April 24, 2020:
Eden, is your Beagle old, young, obese, etc? It may be an injury to the joint, and injury to the pad that you cannot see. Broken bones need to be x-rayed as you cannot always feel the break.
Eden on April 19, 2020:
My beagle just recently started limping on her front leg. She will put some weight on it but for most of the time she will just hobble around on her other three legs. There is no visible swelling or injury to the paw pads of nails. When I felt for a sprain or broken bone there was none. What do you think this is?
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on April 17, 2020:
Mat, the most common cause of sudden lameness in a Lab is a cruciate injury.
At this point rest is a very good option.
Mat on April 16, 2020:
My 4 year old black lab was acting strange this morning she would not eat then i added some fish oil to her food and she ate that up but then she would not run and play and when i touched her hind leg she pulled away but i saw no broken bones or sprains what should i do
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on April 11, 2020:
Hi Tracey, my first thought with a Shih Tzu would be a luxating patella, but since your vet did not find that problem I would think you are correct and a chiropractor would be the way to go. It is a much more common thing to find one that works with horses, but if you are in a large city you will most likely find a chirocpractor that works with dogs.
tracey schulz on April 07, 2020:
My 11 month old puppy shih tzu holds up his hind leg when going down a few stair but not always took to vet and found nothing wrong with knee or hips he runs and plays and walks fine but once in awhile when running and turning you can tell it bothers him don’t seem like he is in pain but is on pain meds I am worried was thinking a chiropractor might help
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on March 04, 2020:
Tiffany, the most common reasons are listed above in the article. If you cannot find an injury, you can treat with an anti-inflammatory as described above. If this continues or gets worse the dog will need to be seen by your local vet.
Tiffany on March 01, 2020:
My 1 year old german sheapherd mix came in from the fence 3 days ago limping and want put but a little bit of weight on his paw every once in awhile. I checked it the best i could for swelling and didnt really see any i cant look at it that great cause he has never liked his paws touched. What could be causing him to limp i have been trying to keep him from running around but he is still limping.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on January 13, 2020:
Linda, not sure how long this has been going on but it sounds like your GSD is in a lot of pain when walking but forgets about it when running. If you have a vet in your area you really need to take him in and have it looked at, maybe put the dog on pain meds or anti-inflammatories.
Linda Kleier on January 12, 2020:
I have 8 month old german sheppard he limpimg on his fro t leg and now dont wamt to.put his paw on ground but he will go outside and take off run ing no limp but then walking back he has bsd limp and then hold his leg up not putting psw on ground
JSKB on December 22, 2019:
Thank you, that link was very helpful. I did all the test and nothing is swollen or out of place. He recently started kicking his injured back leg behind him like hes trying to stretch it or pop something back into place. I gave him asprin but no change so far.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on December 21, 2019:
JSKB--it is impossible to say without an exam but based on breed and weight it is most likely a cruciate ligament injury.
JSKB on December 19, 2019:
I have a 8 month old catahoula mix(40-50lbs) and he slipped on the patio while playing with our other dog. He will put weight on it and still run and play but he limps if hes walking and takes all weight off of it(back right leg) when hes standing still. its been 3 days and it hasnt gotten better. Any advise?
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on November 03, 2019:
Tara, without doing an exam, I am unlikely to suspect the foot. I would look for alternative methods of treating hip dysplasia, and he may have early arthritic changes to the knee too. Consider hydrotherapy, acupuncture, massage, etc. All safer than rimadyl.
Tara on October 29, 2019:
I have a 7 yr old English Bulldog. I have taken him to the vet with a left back leg limp. They did xrays. He has some hip dysplasia with some swelling and fluid around the knee joint. He was given rimadyl. His limp got worse after the appointment. Not sure if they maybe did something to worsen his knee during X-ray or what. Started giving him gabapentin as well. He also takes apoquel and started him on omegas and Cosequin.
He started developing sores on his face and feet so I stopped both the rimadyl and gabapentin. He still won’t put any weight on the leg and doesn’t want me touching his foot. Especially the middle pad. At this point I don’t know if it’s his knee or foot that is hurting him. I don’t want to sedate him to just move his knee joint around to see if it’s torn. Is it possible to injure the pad somehow?
Mel Mastroianni on October 24, 2019:
My 5 year old pitbull has been limping for about a week. He will no not put the leg down at all. Even when standing still. When i looked there were no signs of anything and when i pressed on his leg he didnt yelp or make any signs of pain. However, he does have lyme disease,
But his appetite and energy level remained normal.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on October 21, 2019:
Beth, if she is dragging the foot that is most likely a neurological problem. There is not much to do without surgery.
If she is just limping, and you have not found anything, based on the type of dog I would suspect a cruciate injury. Read this article for some more ideas. https://pethelpful.com/dogs/dog-cruciate-ligament-...
Beth Roose on October 20, 2019:
Please help! I have a 4 month old st bernard/lab/boxer mix puppy which completely stopped using her back leg 28 hours ago. Shes showed NO signs of being in pain by mouth/verbal/crying or snapping or even any common gestures of an animal in pain. I have followed all of your steps and ive patted, squeezed, rotated, rubbed, tickled, bent, rolled and stretched out every area from her hip to her toenails and not only have i gotten almost no pain response from her but i havent felt or seen anything at all. She almost appears to be just dragging but still carrying her leg along as she moves. It very strange. Its almost like shes lost feeling from her hip down. Im so worried and have no way of getting her to a vet. Please can you help us or Tell me what i can do? Im desperate and its Breaking my heart seeing her like this. Thanks so much, Beth and Turbo
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on October 14, 2019:
Maddy, your dog is in pain, so I really wish you could get him to a vet for some pain meds. Since you said that is impossible, the only thing that is going to help is rest.
Arthritis is unlikely in a dog so young. The most common thing would be some sort of trauma, like stepping on a thorn or sharp object like a nail. You will not see anything but it will hurt. Some become infected and will need antibiotics, the majority do not. There is no way to tell about the nail without an exam.
Maddy K16posiden on October 13, 2019:
I have a three year old rottweiler and lab mix. Earlier tonight i got him out of his kennel and he was doing just fine, i think he seened like it so i let him outside. He came back in and i noticed a limp in his front left paw, he didn't have anything wrong except a couple cracked nails so i cut and filed them down to see if it would help maybe.... well i left him out again before bed and he is still running around like normal and has so much energy when outside but his limp has gotten worse sense earlier. He doesn't whine when walking and puts weight on it and doesn't whine when i touch it. Could he possible just have a nail cracked to far down that's causing him pain? Maybe not getting enough exercise? Or could it be arthritis? I don't have any money to take him to the vet and i don't live by one. Do you think you could help? Hes never done this and hes my everything.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on September 22, 2019:
Kat, if he is whining and showing behavioral changes he is in pain. Get him to your regular vet so that the foot can be xrayed and he can be put on pain pills.
Kat on September 18, 2019:
I have a two year old male German Shepard, two days ago I noticed he was limping on his front left leg. (A few days prior he had played with another large dog outdoors practically all day, but hadn't shown any signs of injury or discomfort after the play date.) Yesterday, he started whining and acting borderline hysterical compared to his normal quiet sweet demeanor. I checked for any swelling or sensitive areas, but right off the bat couldn't find anything that would make him act this way or cause him to limp. He's still limping today and whining on and off, as if he's in pain, and then will just stop and act normal. PLEASE HELP.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on August 04, 2019:
Padee, without an exam the most likely cause is a luxating patella. You can read more about it here: https://pethelpful.com/dogs/how-to-fix-a-trick-kne...
Padee on July 27, 2019:
My 3 year old chihuahua mix just started limping all of a sudden after going to potty. She didn't go outside and was normal before. 2 days before this she wasn't feeling quite well as she threw up 3 times and had diarrhea. Today she was well but after going to go potty, she came back limping and doesn't seem to be in pain but she doesn't put any weight on her right back leg.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on May 22, 2019:
Liz--your dog is in pain. See your regular vet if you can.
Liz on May 22, 2019:
My 4 yr old Doberman/Rottie he came in from outside and he won't put his front paw done i have checked his pads the bigger pad he wimps when he tries to set it down he keeps it up when he tries to get down Thank you.
Sandra on May 05, 2019:
My dog a german shepherd 4 years old 41kg has been limping for 8 days. It seems to be her front right leg. She doesnt seem to be affected by it as still eating normally and still wanting to play I had her at the vet 2 days after limp who checked her over & suggested sprain prescribed 3 days tramadol & advised to rest this did not help limp was still there although no better or worse still eating drinking & want to play as normal took her back to vet on 4th day & prescribed 7 days of meticam suggested it could be start of athritis we are now on day 5 of the meticam and limp is still present isnt getting worse or better, still eating drinking wanting to play, I have examined all legs paws nails on a daily basis & can see no obvious injury & she never whines or pulls away. I have no idea where the pain is or what caused it. But everytime she walks she is limping with her front right leg. Any ideas what it could be?
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on May 02, 2019:
Valerie, the article mentions aspirin.
IF this is a hind leg lameness, a cruciate ligament problem is most likely. If you want to read more about it check https://pethelpful.com/dogs/dog-cruciate-ligament-...
valerie skilling on May 02, 2019:
my lab sometimes is a bit stiff then races like crazy in the woods chasing squirrels the the next day shows a bit lameness in one leg.Her gait looks okay one minute then limping a bit. She doesn't mind me touching and pulling her legs. Is aspirin safe for dogs?
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on April 30, 2019:
Jake, since your dog is in pain you can give aspirin. (See details in artilce.) If it seems to be getting worse, or not getting better even with pain killers, he should be seen. It is impossible to tell if it is a fracture without an x-ray but that is a possibility.
Jake on April 29, 2019:
My German Shepherd was outside and came in limping off his back paw. I checked his pads and his webbings and there doesnt seem to be any sign of anything but when i do a small squeeze and put some pressure on the foot he is in pain, is it possible its broken ? How long should i wait to try and seek a professionals help?
MJ Nunes on April 07, 2019:
My 3 year old Golden Retriever wasn't putting any weight on her left front paw this morning. When walking, sitting or standing, she would hold it up. If she's lying down, she'll move her foot around without any apparent pain. I checked her pads and nails and didn't see anything, though she became uncomfortable with me touching her paw. When I gently manipulated her wrist, she yelped in pain. There doesn't appear to be any swelling, broken skin, or bones that seem out of place (I compared to her other leg). She'll eat and drink at meal times, and appears happy and her "usual" self unless I'm touching her paw/wrist. What do you think could be causing her limp and pain?
Jennie McMann on April 07, 2019:
My 10 month old whippet keeps limping when walking on hard surface fine when on grass. Vet cannot find why. Had X-ray showed tiny bit of glass which was removed but still the same ..it’s been 6 weeks now. He can dig fine with both legs,doesn’t make any signs of pain just holds the paw up.. can anyone help
April M on March 28, 2019:
My almost 1 year old lab german shepard is limping. When she stands or sits she raises her paw. She doesnt cry or seem in pain. She still runs around and plays with other dog
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on March 02, 2019:
Megan, how can you tell it is not the cruciate ligament? It can be strained but not ruptured, in which case the signs are mild. That is the best option for an injury to the knee too.
The best thing you can do for him is to allow adequate rest. I am not sure for how long as it depends on how he recovers. If it is quick, keep him quiet for a few more days.
If this continues, he will need to go to the vet for further diagnosis and maybe an anti-inflammatory injection.
Megan on March 01, 2019:
My Pyrenees/Golden mix started limping on his back leg yesterday. I've looked at his feet and toes, moved his knee and hip, he lets me do anything and doesn't seem to be in pain - doesn't pull away or yelp when I touch any part of the leg. He was even jumping around and running with my other dog. But he won't put his foot down when he pees (he normally stands on both and squats) and doesn't put a ton of weight on it when standing or turning around. There's no swelling that I can see. I've read the cruciate ligament article and it doesn't seem to be that, and I read the diagnosing a lame dog article as well. Do you have any other thoughts? If it's a pulled muscle or something would that heal on its own?
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on February 13, 2019:
Samantha, it may be arthritis (secondary to an old injury), a cruciate problem, or many other things. If you are taking him to the vet make sure that he is not running around. Rest is the best medicine at this time.
Samantha Thomas on February 11, 2019:
My dog wass hit by a car 3 yrs ago. He's started limping and now wont put weight on back leg. Having a hard time getting up to stand. No yelping tho wen i touch it/rub it,or wen trying to get up. Vet appt. in3 days. What do til then. Hes very uncomfortable.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on December 09, 2018:
The most common cause of hind limb legness in a Yorkie is a luxating patella. It may have been normal during the exam, moved out of place again later.
Also consider Legg-Calves-Perthes disease, an aseptic necrosis of the feroral head. He will need radiographs to confirm this diagnosis, so you will need to take him to your vet.
KZ on December 09, 2018:
Today my 14# larger body frame, so not overweight, Yorkie dog began dragging his left posterior leg that seems to have become flaccid. My human doctor husband did a ROM and joint exam. There are also no known or obvious injuries either. He was walking fine yesterday.
Dr, possible causes of such symptoms ???? He’s up to date on all vacs and heart worm treatment. No routine meds either.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on November 13, 2018:
Bomb, if you are taking her to vet on Wednesday I would recommend waiting. At her age you need to have her shoulder x-rayed to make sure there is not something more serious going on, and before giving her a NSAID like aspirin she needs a thorough exam and possibly blood work to make sure there are no underlying problems. Just be sure to lift her up to the bed and couch, and do not let her jump down and injure herself even more.
Bomb on November 12, 2018:
Hi doc! My 14 year old chihuahua must have fell on steps a few weeks ago, we heard it but didn’t see it. She was fine and walking normal. Then she jumped off couch about a week ago, face first. She has been slow moving but the past day she is having a hard time putting weight on her right shoulder. She’s limping and walking but not putting much weight on it. She seems uncomfortable but not severe pain. Any suggestions? I am going to take her to vet Wednesday when I get paid
Gary milnes on November 02, 2018:
hi my dog nala she is a puggle but is a little lame i have been through her whole back leg and foot she dosnt yelp or wince and no obvious signs of a problem and still runs around playing
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on September 20, 2018:
Jasmine, he needs to be looked at by your vet so at this point all I can recommend is rest. He may have a hairline fracture of one of his metatarsals or may even have a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament.
Jasmine Ritter on September 19, 2018:
Hi my 4 month old Lab/Blue Healer mix jumped out of our car window 2 days ago we were only going about 10 mph. He hasnt been walking on his hinde leg since. He will use it to scratch and put some weight on it when he uses the bathroom. The closest hes came to walking on it was just tip toeing. He doesnt seem to be having any pain. He layed around a lot the day it happened. As of today hes acting the same as he was before. The only area that seems to bug him whem we touch it is his paw. Theres no swelling or cuts/scraps anywhere. We really just cant afford a vet right now and wont be able to for a few weeks. Any advice would be appreciated.
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on August 24, 2018:
Baxterandbonnie--the most likely cause is a soft tissue injury or a bone injury in the paw. If you can not take her to the vet, the only thing you can try is rest and possibly an anti-inflammatory like aspirin. The best thing you could do though is take her to your regular vet and have the paw xrayed. If the vet does not find anything he may want to put her on a steroidal anti-inflammatory drug.
Baxterandbonnie01 on August 23, 2018:
Hi, i have a 2 year old beagle. She always plays rough with my other beagle. Shes starting limping on her front leg, its worse when shes not moved for a while. But when shes warms up she still limps and doesnt put full weight on her paw or raises it. I cant see any injury and she doesnt mind me checking it. Although she does pull it away when i reach her paw. What could it be? Thanks
Dr Mark (author) from The Atlantic Rain Forest, Brazil on June 20, 2018:
Kerry, the tick borne diseases that your dog is prone to will vary depending on your area. Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain Spotter Fever are two examples.
Tick borne diseases can often be treated with antibiotics but lameness does not show up in most cases until the arthritis is pretty advanced. It is much better to prevent the ticks from getting on your dog, or removing them each day to prevent them from being on long enough to pass many of the disease organisms.
Kerry on June 20, 2018:
What if is a tic born disease? What can you do?
Michael Lynn on February 12, 2018:
Thank you for this information.