Why Is My Dog Limping?
It is almost always a cause for concern for any dog lover to see their pet limping for whatever reason. When you see this happening, all kinds of thoughts come into mind, including some really grim ones.
This article will take a look at the different causes of limping in dogs, how you can prevent them from happening, and what you can do if it happens to your dog. Fortunately, as long as you get the cause correctly, you can actually have the limp treated, and subsequently improve the quality of life of your dog.
Why Is My Dog Limping?
Just like with humans, limping in dogs can have multiple causes. Determining the cause for the limp requires some investigation and a knowledge of your pet. Limping can happen at any stage of the dog’s life, and can affect one or more parts of their body.
Limping can be directly caused by an injury or disease, or it can be a compensation for an underlying health issue. Unlike humans, dogs cannot talk, so it takes a more in-depth approach to find out the true cause of the problem.
The first thing you can look at is the location of the limp. The location of your dog’s limp can provide a clue to which specific part/s of their body is affected. The next thing you should look at is the onset of your dog’s limping.
A sudden onset of limping can be linked to an acute cause such as a fracture or a dislocation. A more chronic onset may point to chronic issues such as dysplasia, osteoporosis, or malignancies. It can even be a combination of both in some cases.
Causes of Dog Limping
- Trauma – Just like humans, dogs can get into accidents, which can then result into traumatic injury. The type of limp they exhibit depends on factors such as the type of impact and the location of the injury.
Traumatic injuries can be severe enough that it can lead to permanent lameness if not treated properly. If there are severe symptoms such as extreme pain, bleeding, or apparent deformities, you should immobilize your dog if necessary, and consult your veterinarian immediately.
- Bone/Joint diseases – Diseases of the bones and joints can cause limping in dogs. They are generally chronic in onset, persistent, and often worsen with time without proper treatment.
Bone diseases such as osteoporosis make your dog’s bones more prone to fractures. Also, joint diseases such as arthritis and dysplasia can cause pain and dysfunction, which can make it difficult or even impossible for them to make specific movements without pain. Ligaments, discs, and other supporting structures may also get damaged by either acute or chronic causes.
- Nerve injuries – Injuries to the nerves can also cause limping in dogs. One common nerve injury that causes pain and limping (and in severe cases, lameness) in dogs is a pinched nerve. This is commonly linked with a disc or joint injury that causes the compression of nerves.
The severity of the limp and the localization of the injury depends on the location of the nerve compression, and which muscles the nerve supplies. If left untreated, there’s a risk that nerve injury can cause permanent disability in your dog.
- Malignancies – While this is a rare cause of limping in dogs, this is a condition that should not be ruled out because of its potentially fatal complications. Tumors can grow at virtually any part of the dog’s body, causing a limp, depending on the area where it actually grows.
In more severe cases, the growth and spread of the tumor causes generalized weakness, which can later render the dog lame. A malignant cause should not be ruled out in cases of chronic limping.
How to Prevent Dog Limping
Prevention is always better than cure, as most people would say. While there are multiple causes of limping that can happen to even dogs that receive the best possible care, preventive measures can go a long way in reducing your dog’s risk of limping and other health problems.
Here are some of the ways to reduce your dog’s risk of limping:
- Weight control – Most of the common causes of limping can be associated with excessive weight, so one great way to reduce your dog’s risk of getting a limp is to keep their weight under control.
Regular exercise and dietary control are among the best ways to prevent unhealthy weight gain in your pets. Consult your veterinarian if you need help in creating a weight control program for your dog.
- A balanced diet – A balanced diet can go a long way in not just preventing the development of limp, but also in promoting the overall wellness of your dog. Proper nutrition is one of the best ways to prevent injuries in dogs.
Receiving sufficient nutrients is essential in preventing a lot of diseases due to malnutrition. With proper nutrition, you can ensure healthy bones and muscles, while also preventing unhealthy weight gain/loss.
- Safety – Creating a safe environment for your dogs can prevent a lot of the injuries they suffer, especially at a much later age. For example, measures such as creating steps in their doghouses can prevent them from suffering from falls and rough landings that can cause injuries. Also, you have to plan physical activities that are appropriate with their age and physical condition.
Dog Limping Natural Home Remedies
There are different remedies available at home that can prevent limping in dogs. Depending on what causes the limp (ex.: pain, swelling), you can give specific home treatments and they can provide almost-instant relief.
Though the definitive treatment is still resolving the underlying cause, these remedies can help your dog get by as treatment is being sought. These treatments can also greatly help in improving the overall quality of life of your dog.
- Cold compress – Cold compress is highly effective in relieving most causes of limp in dogs. Applying cold compress helps in keeping inflammation under control, and also helps in reducing pain in the affected area. Applying cold compress from 5-10 minutes for 2-4 times a day can help in pain relief and help them walk properly, provided that the injury is not severe enough to cause disability.
- Wound treatment – Sometimes, the limp can be caused by injuries such as open wounds and abscesses. For these conditions, it is imperative that these wounds should be cleaned and properly covered to prevent pain and further infection. Bleeding should also be adequately controlled. After applying first aid, you can bring your dog to a vet for further evaluation.
- Hemp – Hemp is becoming a highly valuable form of treatment for dogs that are suffering from limp and other health conditions. Considered as a safe alternative to conventional medications, hemp is now widely being used for pain management and its associated symptoms such as limp. If used responsibly, it is an effective, natural, and low-risk way for resolving health issues that cause limping.
How Much Hemp Should I Give My Dog?
There are many factors that can determine the proper amount of hemp you can use for dogs. Factors such as the size and weight of your dog, the severity of the injury they are suffering from, and the concentration of the hemp formula you will be using will have an effect on your dosage.
For safety reasons, it is recommended that you start with a lower dose and work your way up from there. Ideally, it should be administered under the supervision of a veterinarian to ensure proper dosing, to monitor for adverse effects, and to determine if more advanced treatment is necessary.