dog limping

Why is My Dog Limping?

Reviewed by Lauren Goode, DVM

All of a sudden, something is wrong with your pup and you’re asking yourself: “Why is my dog limping?”

I asked myself the other day, when I noticed my dog’s gait was different from what it usually is.

As good pet owners we remain aware of how our dogs behave when they are well, and we note how they act when they don’t seem well.

In this blog we will examine some of the most common reasons that can cause limping in your dog.

Why is My Dog Limping?

dog limping

There are several factors that can cause a dog to limp.

The reasons vary from conditions that are benign to ones that could pose more of a serious situation.

It is important to take any changes in your pet seriously, following up on any differences in behavior.

It’s also helpful to know if the limping came on all of a sudden, or was it a gradual change in the way your dog is walking.

Broken Leg

A broken leg can certainly be a cause for a dog to limp, and will most likely be a sudden change.

An injury or trauma are the most common reasons that will result in your animal not being able to put their weight on their limb.

It is unlikely for a dog to walk on a broken leg, fractured, or a dislocated joint.

Torn ACL

These are the ligaments that provide stability to the knee known as the CCL, Cranial Cruciate Ligament in pets.

If twisted the wrong way, meaning the excessive rotation of the tibia, can cause a ligament to rupture.

This kind of torn ligament will cause pain and inflammation at the onset of limps and could lead to long term problems.

Obesity can also be a cause of stress factors that can contribute to this condition in dogs.

Older dogs that are over five years in age can be more susceptible to suffering from these traumas.

Foreign Body in Paw

This is one that can be quick to remedy.

If the foreign object can be detected and removed from the paw.

In some cases it may be difficult to find the offending substance or item that is affecting the paw and may result in a trip to the vet.

Broken Toenail

A broken nail will most likely result in bleeding.

This will need to be stemmed by wrapping the paw in a towel or gauze.

In a case like this, it will be important to put pressure on the wound in the hope of stopping the bleeding.

If the bleeding does not stop after ten minutes of pressure then a trip to the vet will be required.

Hip Dysplasia

This situation is one when the ball and joint in a dog’s hip don’t fit properly.

This causes the bones to rub and grind.

Over time this condition can lead to the deterioration and loss of function of the joint.

Anti inflammatory medications, joint fluid modifiers, physical therapy and joint supplements are all remedies used to tackle this condition.


Arthritis is caused by inflammation in the joints that can lead to pain and limping in your animal.

When the cartilage in joints become damaged it causes rubbing and grinding that will cause pain, stiffness, and discomfort.

What to Do If Your Dog Starts Limping

dog limping

If you notice that your dog is limping, look for obvious signs that may be causing your pet’s limp.

Look for any outward signs of trauma.

If you don’t see any then it is a good idea to rest your dog and see if that helps.

If the situation does not begin to clear up in a couple of days then it may be best to reach out to your vet for an appointment.

How to Transport a Limping Dog

dog limping

If your dog seems ok to walk on three legs, gently walk them to your car and help them in.

If your dog is unable to walk or seems in a lot of pain, use a blanket as a stretcher to transport your dog to your car.

In the situation that you have a small dog, it is probably ok to pick them up and carry them in your arms.

When to See a Veterinarian

dog limping

Veterinary care should be sought for any broken bones, sudden limping that is painful causing lameness in dogs.

Take your dog to the veterinarian for examination of bones, muscles, or ligaments that may have contributed to your dog’s gradual limp.

Also, if any foreign object is suspected to have entered your dog’s paw, you will most likely require a vet.

Anytime in doubt it is best to call your veterinary professional.

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