If your dog is showing any signs or symptoms of an emergency, you’ll want to see your vet or an emergency clinic ASAP. For non-emergencies, if your dog’s limp lasts longer than 2-3 days, or if it’s getting worse over time, you’ll want to book an appointment with your vet.
You can perform a simple home examination on your dog in the meantime to check for pain and tenderness, and to determine the severity of the limp. If you find the limp is severe (i.e. your dog is not able to put any weight on the leg for a prolonged period of time), this is also an emergency.
Your vet will perform an initial physical exam to check for tenderness, pain and range of motion in your dog’s limbs. They will also consult with you about your dog’s medical history and ask about your observations, such as how long the limping has been going on for, any specific situations where the limp is worse, and how severe. It can be helpful to take a video of your dog’s limp to show your vet, especially if the limping is intermittent.
Other diagnostic tests may be required to arrive at a diagnosis, especially if there are no external signs. Prepping information ahead of time and observing and differences in behavior (i.e. different walking and exercise patterns, whether it’s affecting eating or sleeping, or things they are not doing like getting up or greeting you as much) will help your vet get a full picture of the situation.