Health Topics  >  Musculoskeletal  > Limping (Lameness)

Is limping in dogs an emergency?

If your dog is not bearing weight on a leg or can’t walk, this is a sign that it’s a medical emergency and you should take your dog to the vet ASAP.  

Other signs of an emergency include:

  • Your dog is showing signs of severe pain or distress (if extreme, be cautious as painful dogs can bite in an act of self-protection)
  • Profuse bleeding or any large wounds
  • Dislocation or any dangling limbs, or obvious break
  • Excessive swelling or heat from the area
  • Sudden inability to move all or part of the body; dragging one of the limbs or if it appears paralyzed or partially paralyzed

If your dog is walking on the specific limb but has a limp, it is not an emergency but it does mean your dog is in pain and you should book an appointment with your vet for the next available time to determine the cause of the limp. 

If your dog occasionally “skips” with a back leg (although this looks cute), it’s likely a sign of patella luxation and something you should discuss with your vet. Bunny hopping with back legs can also be a sign of hip dysplasia. 

You may want to perform some at-home first aid measures to determine the severity of your dog’s limp and take a few videos of your dog walking, as this can be very helpful for your vet. 

Pro Tip: If your dog is not bearing weight on a leg, can’t walk, or showing signs of severe pain, you should contact your vet immediately.

This video below from Mansion Hill Vets shows a dog with hip dysplasia ‘bunny hopping’