Help, My Dog is Limping!!

Anytime your dog starts limping is scary. There are several simple things you can check for to ease your mind and perhaps prevent expensive veterinary emergency visits.

First assess the pain. If your dog is putting partial or full weight on the leg, chances are that it is not broken or critical. The most common injury I see on a daily basis are strains and sprains. Aspirin and a few days rest work wonders for these. However if there is a large wound, intense pain, or a lot of blood , err on the safe side and visit your vet or ER.

Be careful when you examine any dog in pain! Even a trusted pet will bite when you squeeze or pull on a sore spot. Never trust or examine any dog in pain without help or a muzzle!

Check each nail for breaks and redness and swelling where it joins the  toe. These are common places where the nail gets caught or pulled. However painful these can be  treated with aspirin, Neosporin, and bandaged till the next day.

Check between the toes  and pads for other wounds, splinters , mud, clods, rocks, and rashes.Sometimes soapy water and cortisone ointment work wonders! Swollen toes could be a sign of infection, sprains, wounds, or breaks.It is very helpful to wash and wet down the foot and leg to make things show up easier! Put Neosporin and cortisone ointment on irritated areas. Check my free home remedy download for other treatments. Often broken toes are left uncasted and unbandaged to heal naturally. Dogs like to eat casts and don’t keep bandages on…or clean!!

Feel all four legs for pain, wounds, and swellings. Flex each joint separately and  feel for heat. If the dog is putting some weight on the limb, they could have just strained it. If they are holding it up, and it looks out of whack…get it checked. If mildly painful, use my home remedy download dosages for aspirin.

Pain in the back, hips, and neck ,may also cause limping. Dogs older than 5 years can commonly have a bit of arthritis in any of these places.If the location of the pain is not obvious, it may be from arthritis in the vertebrae of the neck, back, or hips. Again aspirin will help, till you can get xrays for a diagnosis.

Pain in the stifle or knee can be due to a luxating patella in a small breed or a torn ACL in a large breed. A poodle or Yorkie that has a hitch in the get along, but doesn’t seem painful often has a luxating patella. Luxating patella cause dogs to hike their legs for several steps, then put it down, without pain. On the other hand, a lab or Rottweiler carrying their rear leg may often have ruptured on of the major ligaments in the knee, the Anterior Cruciate Ligament. Your vet often needs to feel these joints and take xrays to reach a diagnosis. Aspirin is helpful for any problem joints. Don’t use ibuprofen and Tylenol for pain in dogs.

Check out the following video.

Oh… also check out the Dog Dish Diet sale. Get the book, a homecooking eBook, and a link to the youtube crock pot video for only $19.00!

28 thoughts on “Help, My Dog is Limping!!

  1. Joyce

    Dear Dr. Greg;
    What a great video—–you have illustrated to me what to check for on my Beauceron’s front leg and foot. Last year he lost one of his rear legs due to bone cancer. His seventh birthday was celebrated on May 18th of this year, and I noticed just a few days ago that he is favoring one of his front paws. I am hoping and praying that he has just been playing too much recently, as we have had quite a few visitors in a short period of time; which is not the norm, causing him much excitement and extra ball fetching.

    Thank you again—and I will be ordering your book soon.
    Take Care……Joyce and Butler Harold (my dog)

  2. Dr Greg Post author

    Joyce and Butler Harold,
    Glad you enjoyed my video! I hope Butler’s leg is just strained a bit and heals up in a few days.

  3. Patrick

    Dr. Greg,
    Thank you. The information is very helpful. My dog is only 3.5 and after a rigorous run in the park, he favours back right side after getting up from rest but then it tapers off and is fine. Glad to know its not broken and will check out the aspirin dosage to help him along.
    Thanks again,
    Patrick

  4. Susan

    This video is very reassuring. Today my dog jumped off a bed and I noticed him limping (he had not been limping before) He is putting weight on it and didn’t react when I felt along his leg. He did this once before, about a year and a half ago, and after about 5 days the limp was gone. I think he just landed the wrong way- again- and it must be a strain or sprain. Wondering if hat/cold would make it feel better.

  5. Dr Greg Post author

    Warm compress helps and a baby or adult aspirin according to weight. The dose is one baby aspirin per 10 pounds and one adult aspirin per thirty pounds twice daily for three to four days. Can also be given once daily for mild pain.

  6. Jessica

    My 4-year old Cairn Terrier mix Colby has recently started limping (rear leg). He isn’t putting weight on it, but nothing feels broken. He will occasionally put weight on his foot, but not for a long amount of time. Plus, he doesn’t show any reaction to the exam. :( Is there anything I can do to help him?

  7. Dr Greg Post author

    If he strained or pulled a muscle or joint, it may take a week or two to get better. One adult aspirin per thirty pounds twice daily for four days may help.If it continues or gets worse get it checked!

  8. Kerry

    Your video was a great help! My six year old golden retriever started limping the other day. It seems to be worse when she gets up from a laying down position. It is cold outside now, so I am guessing it is a strain or arthritis. (She will eventually run around with no problems.) I see from the above notes that you recommend aspirin for short term help and a visit to the vet if it does not begin to resolve, but is there any long term solution to help alleviate some of her pain? Possibly a special vitamin or supplement? Again, thank you for your wonderful advice.

  9. Dr Greg Post author

    Human drugs like fish oil pills(2pills 3-5 x per week1200mg) and glucosamine/chondroitin/msm (1 daily 1500mg) help prevent inflammation and nourish the joints. I feed my dogs frozen, raw chicken wings several times a week for the natural joint supplements in the bones. You can also crock pot chicken and veggies to feed as the whole diet or add to the commercial food. That way your dog benefits from antioxidants and nutrients in the real food. A few Sardines several times a week are a wonderful supplement also. This and more info in the book Dog Dish Diet

  10. bill k

    i have the same problem as kerry above with my golden it gets better dose put slight weight on it but this morn i let both my goldens out at the same time and they crash into each other going after a rabbit they cant catch, and hes limping again,how does that work with extra strength aspirin.

  11. Dr Greg Post author

    Hi Bill,

    The dosage is 10 mg per pound and extra strength aspirin is generally 500mg instead of 325mg. A 325 mg pill can be given to a thirty pound dog twice daily. A 500 mg pill can be given to a 50 pound dog twice daily. Use aspirin as needed or at lower doses long term. Aspirin may cause bleeding or stomach problems in high doses

  12. Deanna

    My sheltie is limping also… front leg. He does put weight on it, but sometimes the limp is worse than others. He did it a few weeks ago, but then it got better, now he’s doing it again. I’m hoping it’s just a strain. He still jumps around playing with his brother.

  13. Dr Greg Post author

    When it lasts a few weeks it could be a bad strain or sprain or mild arthritis in the joint. If it keeps coming and going you may need x rays of the leg to find the problem. Meanwhile always a good idea to use glucosamine chondroitin products one pill twice daily and fish oil caps 1 pill daily for joint support and healing

  14. Paula

    Dr. Greg, love this website. Thank you for the help. My 5 year old pug/shiba mix has been limping on and off for the past 2 weeks now. As of this week, the limp is markedly worse in the AM. But, she still plays tug of war with her dad no problems and energy level is still there. After reading up on the aspirin discussion, we wanted to try some for her (shes 40 pounds). However, my husband thought the dosage is high for her in comparison to dosage for humans. Does aspirin wear off faster in dogs than in humans? I know some other medications, like the acepromazine we have to use during thunder, work that way as well.

  15. Dr Greg Post author

    You can use 1/4 to 1/2 aspirin for mild pain. The higher dose is for more inflamed or painful conditions. Sounds like she has a strain, pull, or bit or arthritis in the leg. I would try a low dose once to twice weekly for ten days then consider a check up and xrays if no improvement seen. Glucosamine/ chondroitin 1 pill 2x dailyand fish oil 1 pill daily also helps

  16. Carmen

    hi Dr. Greg last night my mini dachshund’s foot was caught underneath the door while i was opening it and he was limping or he would hold it up while walking after. I woke up this morning and its the same- he either walks on it lightly or holds it up while walking, he doesnt cry. doesnt seem like hes in pain. what do you recommend?

  17. Dr Greg Post author

    Sounds like some bruising from the door. Most likely will feel better in a day or two with a baby aspirin twice daily for a couple days. If it gets red, swollen or more painful get it checked out

  18. Marie

    My 1 year old active lab was running through the house and jumped up on my bed this morning and yelped. We looked her over and it seemed like her leg was hurting. She got off the bed and now has been limping all day long. We have felt her leg and it seems to hurt by the hip area, It looks the same as ever though – no swelling. She’s holding it up when she walks on and off and it is upsetting to see! What should we do?

  19. Dr Greg Post author

    You can try an adult 325mg aspirin and fish oil capsule 2x daily for a couple days. Sounds like she pulled a muscle. If it doesn’t improve or gets worse, get it checked out

  20. Amanda

    My lab is nearly two and has been limping for the past two days. He only applies light weight on his rear right leg when he is walking. When he is not walking he tends to hold it off the floor. He let’s me check his leg and he pulls away when I touch the arch in his leg below the hip. 1hat could be causing his pain??

  21. Dr Greg Post author

    He could have sprained a joint , injured his ACL(in his knee or stifle), or pulled a muscle and that is why he pulls away. If it doesn’t get better in a few days , get it checked out!

  22. nicola

    hiya i have a 6 yr old rottwiller who for the past few days has been limping but i noticed now this morning she is lifting it up completely she was diagnosed with mild arthritis when she was 3 but have had no problems until now i have felt all her leg and she doesn’t seem to be in pain at all it has been cold this past week wondering if it could be that or something else just wondering what i should do really any help would be great
    thanks
    nicola

  23. Dr Greg Post author

    I have seen lots of dogs limping as it turns colder. The arthritis is probably bothering her. You should be giving her glucosamine chondroitin msm products, fish oil capsules, and even raw chicken wings like I talk about in Dog Dish Diet. She can get an adult aspirin twice daily

  24. Nancy

    My almost 1 yr old shepard mix puppy has been limping since yesterday.Today she did not limp until late in the afternoon. She limps for a while then stops and the next thing I see her running in the back yard. It is her back leg. She plays with her brother and they play rough. He sometimes tries to pull her leg when she is trying to come inside. She always wants to go in & out all day long while her brother is a runner. He runs laps around the back yard. Also, they keep digging holes in the backyard. I thought maybe she fell in a hole while playing with her brother. We are constantly filling holes in the yard. How long do you think I should wait before taking her to the vet? I was hoping it would get better on its own. I have 2 dogs & 3 cats all rescue animals & it can get expensive.

  25. Dr Greg Post author

    If she is using it without pain, and you have checked the leg for punctures or wounds, you usually wait a few days to see it was just a strained muscle or joint. If so she will improve and limp less over a week to 10 days

  26. Yuukii

    My dog started to limp this morning. He can still move slightly, but in difficulty. All we know is that it’s the left (or is it the right?) leg. What should I do? PLEASE.

  27. Dr Greg Post author

    It is impossible for me to diagnose and treat without seeing and feeling the hurt leg. If it is that painful it needs to be checked out. 1 adult Aspirin per thirty pounds may help if given twice daily,but get it checked asap, check for wounds and swellings.

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