My dog is limping, what does it mean?

My dog is limping but he’s healthy. That’s a refrain that vets hear time and again. What pet owners don’t realise is that limping can be a sign of arthritis but because pets are good at hiding their pain, you may not be aware of it until the disease has progressed.

My dog is limping. What’s causing it?

  1. First thing to do is to examine his foot for stones or thorns or growths. Make sure you get between the toes and foot pads. Grass seeds have a nasty habit of embedding themselves between the toes and this could rapidly lead to infection.
  2. If your dog is older than 7 and there are no signs of external issues, he is in all likelihood suffering from arthritis. This is a fairly common ailment in older dogs, and some breeds are more disposed. Arthritis is also common in cats though they tend to hide the symptoms more successfully than dogs.
  3. In addition to limping, your dog may be reluctant to go for walks. Your pet may struggle to climb stairs or onto his usual place on the bed. He may seem more tired than usual, or grumpy when touched.
  4. Sometimes your pet may chew or lick a leg or their spine for no apparent reason. This may be an attempt at easing the pain.

A dog that is limping may require medication

How can I help him?

Most important is to get a proper diagnosis from your vet. Though arthritis can’t be cured, there are things you can do to help ease the discomfort.

Once you know your pet has arthritis, your vet may prescribe medication with anti-inflammatory properties. Never self-medicate as anti-inflammatories should be taken with cuation.

Supplementation is always good support. There are excellent Omega 3 supplements, and supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin which support bone health. Several pet foods contain these supplements too. Ask your EberVet Vetshop for advice.

You may need to replace a limping dog’s bedding

Take a careful look around your home. Is it comfortable for an ageing pet? Pets with sore bones require softer beds so a bed upgrade may be needed. If your dog or cat can’t jump onto their favourite sofa or bed any longer, you could provide a step that will help them. If your floors are super slippery, consider getting some kind of non-slip matting to help your stay on his feet.

It is still important for an arthritic pet to get some form of exercise. A slow, gentle walk or a swim is ideal but let your pet take the lead. He will only do what he is he capable of.

As with every ailment, it is important to remember that the sooner your pet gets the treatment and care he needs, the more successful the outcome.