Health Topics  >  Musculoskeletal  > Limping (Lameness)

A veterinarian’s advice on dealing with limping in dogs

Limping is a sign of pain in dogs – it’s their way of showing that it hurts to put their full weight on that leg. Always take a close look at your dog’s affected paw(s) to see if there’s an injury that’s visible as the cause of a limp. If there isn’t one, it’s best to bring your dog to a vet for an orthopedic exam.

A limp should be worked up by your veterinarian to determine the severity and if early intervention or pain medication (such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories or NSAIDs) are needed.  

Weight management and regular low-impact exercise can help prevent a lot of injuries in dogs.  Obesity (over-conditioning) is a major predisposing factor for a lot of limping (or lameness) issues in dogs.

Young dogs (<1 year) should not have repetitive stressors in their day-to-day routine to allow healthy joint development. Avoid long runs and frequent stairs as well as jumping into and out of cars and slippery surfaces while dogs joints are developing.

Neutering male dogs after 12 months old may allow for better muscle development with testosterone and can help prevent common joint injuries.

Pro Tips: 

  • Preventing your dog from becoming over-conditioned is a great way to minimize your dog from injuring themselves and developing a limp
  • Joint development for puppies is crucial to make them less susceptible to accidents causing them to limp. Avoid frequent stairs and jumping.


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