What to Do if Your Dog is Limping - 4 Easy to Follow Tips
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What to Do if Your Dog is Limping – 4 Easy to Follow Tips

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Watching your dog limp is a hard sight to bear. But a mini examination at home can provide helpful clues about the cause. Check out these tips on how to examine a limping dog. Check out our full blog post on What to Do if Your Dog is Limping at: http://boneo.bio-rep.com/blog/dog-health/340/what-to-do-if-your-dog-is-limping-dog-limping-treatment.

4 Tips For What to Do if Your Dog is Limping:

To start the examination, sit next to your dog while she is lying down in a comfortable and quiet area without any distractions. Then follow these steps to figure out why your dog is limping.

Step 1: Locate the affected limb.
Even though it may seem obvious, the affected limb may not be so easy to spot. This is because many dogs that have pain in their front paw will compensate by hobbling on their back legs, and vice versa. Reach over towards each limb and carefully feel the leg from the toes up. If your dog reacts by pulling away, you’ve likely found the limb in question.

Step 2: Check for paw injuries.
Many times limping is caused by a laceration or something stuck in the paw, such as a burr, thorn, or even rock. In some long-haired dogs, even their own fur can get matted between their toes. Limping can also be caused by a cracked toenail.

Step 3: Check for stiffness.
If you’ve ruled out a paw injury, start flexing and extending all the joints from the toes to the shoulder looking for resistance or lack of easy movement. Locate areas of tenderness by applying gentle pressure. Stiffness is a sign of joint pain, and can cause limping. Be careful when you attempt this step because your dog might bite you out of anxiety.

Step 4: Identify patterns.
Does your dog often limp, or did it start suddenly? Has the limping become more frequent, or is your dog a senior? If there are no obvious signs of injury take your dog to see a veterinarian. The veterinarian will be able to check for any joint disorders or internal damage.

There are a variety of treatment options you can give your dog to help with limping. These include applying light heat or cold, massage, adding supplements, restricting movement, and limiting exercise. If you see any protruding bones, or excess of blood, do not attempt to treat your dog yourself. See a veterinarian immediately.


Dogs may limp for a number of reasons – some of which are minor, temporary or treatable and others which can be more serious. For a detailed overview on 15 Causes of Dog Limping, watch our video on Why is My Dog Limping – 15 Causes of Lameness in Dogs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8a5SHGyfBeQ.


Lameness in dogs is defined as “a variance from normal gait.” In laymen’s terms, it is also called limping or hobbling. If you notice that your dog has begun to walk with difficulty, you are likely seeing signs of lameness.

Dogs experience two types of lameness: anatomical and pathological.

Anatomical lameness has to do with the structure of the limbs. This type of canine lameness is usually either genetic or acquired. For example, a dog can be born with deformed legs, which causes him to walk in an unusual manner. Dogs can acquire a deformity that causes lameness; for example, from a broken leg that was never treated properly set. Anatomical lameness can cause pain for a dog (due to stress placed on the skeletal frame) but the limping itself not caused by pain.

Pathological lameness is usually caused by pain. This type of canine lameness can be neural or musculoskeletal. A classic example is a dog that is limping because it has a paw injury or sprained leg. Dogs that limp due to osteoarthritis, inflammation, or other bone and joint disorders are also experiencing pathological lameness.

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