Is your dog limping all of a sudden? Lameness can be a result of a number of reasons. Some dogs can naturally recover with time, but for others it may be an indication of major injuries or conditions.
Is your dog limping on and off? How do you treat a limping dog at home? It is important to take everything with care by assessing the severity of your dog’s limp. Discerning signs may be a bit of a challenge, but it will help you proceed with the appropriate veterinary treatment.
Two types of limps
There are two types of limps: gradual onset and sudden onset. As implied by their names, gradual onset refers to limps that manifest with slow progress over time. It is usually caused by underlying chronic conditions. Sudden onset, on the other hand, is usually acquired from a prior injury or trauma (such as broken bones or limbs, or injured paw) and happens very quickly.
Muscle soreness affects canines when they overexert themselves during dynamic activities such as a rough play, fetch game sessions, or even from a simple run in the park. For such cases, the pooch usually recovers quickly.
What do you do? As one of the minor causes of lameness in dogs, it is best to give him time to rest for a few days or so. Consider setting restrictions on the amount of time and level of activities.
Exposure to strenuous exercise may also lead to a few injuries, which can either be light or heavy. Light injuries may affect soft tissues such as ligaments, muscles, tendons, and others, whilst heavy injuries may refer to joint dislocation, fracture, and rupture of the ligament.
Further, injuries may also be acquired from having foreign objects stuck in between his paws such as a thorn, burr, or a stone.
What do you do? Minimise activities that require your pooch to engage in a lot of movements. Strenuous activities may worsen the injury. Give him time to recover through rest. If the dog is still suffering for more than twenty-four hours or the affected leg has become swollen to the extent that he is refusing to bear weight, bring him to the vet immediately.
Infection or other forms of inflammation
An infected wound or injury, incision, toenail, and nail-bed problems can also lead to signs of pain and limping.
Infection acquired from an injury – Bacterial infection is expected to manifest when there is access through the skin, which then leads to pustules or infection of the joints.
What do you do? – Provide affected canines with medical attention. His temperature will be evaluated and he will also be examined for any wounds. A medical examination may involve X-rays and blood tests.
What do you do? – Have him tested for heartworms and other mites. A medical examination may involve X-rays and blood tests.
Chronic/immune arthritis – Chronic arthritis is more likely to affect senior pets as their musculoskeletal system is sooner bound to weaken. Overweight canines are also predisposed to the said condition. Any kind of activities can be an exertion of effort beyond their ability.
What do you do? – One natural way of relieving pain from canine arthritis is to let him wallow in water.
Assessing dog limping
Symptoms of dog lameness include:
- Difficulty in walking around the stairs as well as in jumping into the car
- Loss of muscle mass is observed around the affected area
- Refusing to place a paw on the floor whilst walking or standing
- Slower pace in walking
- Pain and other signs of discomfort
- Inability to walk or run like on a normal basis
On a scale of one to five, how severe is your dog’s condition?
One – A subtle change in the canine’s gait can be observed. The change may not be as apparent when walking as it is when trotting.
Two – Lameness remains unrecognisable when walking, but it is very noticeable when trotting.
Three – Limping can be observed when walking and trotting.
Four – The pooch finds the standing position hard enough to stay still in all four paws. The affected foot is not placed on the ground to save from exerting effort whilst bearing his full weight.
Five – Often referred to as a ‘non-weight bearing lameness,’ this is the case when the canine refuses to use the affected paws at all times.
Prevent dog limping
As dog lameness may occur at any moment during normal daily activity, it is best to be mindful and perceptive on your dog’s condition at all times. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Beware of snow-melting grit during the winter season. Using foot covers or necessary ointments help to handle the situation.
- Do your own extensive research on genetic predisposition to some pedigree breeds.
- Having your dog on a lead during walks in public or open areas helps prevent serious injuries.
- Know his capabilities on extreme or outdoor activities.
- Monitor your dog’s weight.
- Maintain his paws and pads clean and free from any debris.
- Note that the older the dog, the lesser exercise they need.
- Seek advice from your vet on nutritional supplements that help support and strengthen the joints of your pet.