Causes of Limping in Dogs

Limping in Dogs

Limping in dogs refers to pain or a structural problem or a general weakness in the legs. Generally, limping act as a warning sign of joint disease or bone disease in dogs. Sometimes it might also develop with nerves disorder and injuries in muscles. The dogs with even a mild injury in the legs or with weakened legs walk very slowly and take very shorter steps. Sometimes, with chronic pain and lameness, the dogs are likely to take very short strides without involvement of limp. This generally occurs when the dogs have heavy injury or hurts in more than one leg. Once identifying the leg that is affected or damaged, causes of injury can be identified. Limping in dogs is characterized by pain and growth in pain. It can appear anytime with no apparent injuries.

Causes of Limping in Dogs

Sometimes, the lameness might appear also due to small injuries in foot like pad lacerations, sprains, broken nails, thorns causing wounds and punctures, etc. It is easy to feel the swollen areas. However, you can identify the injury by comparing the injured leg with other front leg and rear legs. Limping in dogs is caused due to several factors. After eliminating the causes of limping in dogs, i.e the nails, thorns, foreign objects, we can consider the other major causes. Here is the brief description on causes of limping in dogs.

Weight and Growth

Limping in dogs is very commonly in young large dogs as they are exposed with problems during their growth. Mostly it occurs due to genetic factors. Puppies with obesity or overweight have high risk of developing limping as they put too much of weight and fat along with their growth leading towards extra strain on growth plates. It occurs in two months old puppies to two year old dogs. Main culprit of the limping in dogs is caused due to overweight and growth is the fatty bone marrow present in the long bones of leg.

Self injury

It is quite possible that the dogs can develop limping by it while playing or jumping. If you are able to watch the dogs playing or jumping, you could obviously identify the causes of limping in dogs. However, if your dog is away while getting injured, it is quite difficult to identify the causes and you need to undergo thorough investigation.

Muscle Sprains

Muscle sprains are very common in humans and also in dogs and can cause limping in dogs. A sudden or unexpected movement or a jerk while playing can lead towards muscle sprain associated with severe pain. However, in maximum cases, sprains in dogs automatically get resolved in a couple of days. Unfortunately, there may be few instances the pain would be apparent and it is required to consult a Vet.


In maximum cases, limping in dogs generally occur due to fractures where the leg is unable to bear the weight of the dogs. In such cases, you can notice the swollen legs and sometimes bones are apparent. In severe fractures, dogs suffer a lot from severe bleeding and the dog should be refrained from making movements.

More than 90% of dogs are affected by limping in front legs alone as the front legs of the dogs are involved in major activities like playing, jumping, running, etc. Treatment of limping in dogs is generally offered as dietary changes and pain management and it lasts from maximum of 5 months for complete recovery.

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