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Lameness & Limping

Lameness & Limping

Lameness and limping in pets is very obvious; however, the cause of your pet's issue may not be so obvious. In some cases, your pet may place just his toe on the ground, keeping most of his weight on the other limbs. In other cases, your pet may refuse to put any weight on the limb. Also, depending on the injury, your pet might limp constantly. In others, he will walk fine at times and limp at others. In many cases, finding out why your pet is limping would need to be determined by your veterinarian.

What Are the Most Common Causes of Lameness & Limping?

There are a variety of conditions that are causing your pet to limp. These include:

  • Injury (sprain, strain, fracture, dislocation)
  • Infection
  • Anatomic defect
  • Degenerative diseases
  • Arthritis
  • Cancer

When Is Limping An Emergency?

If your pet is putting some weight on the affected limb or if the limping is intermittent, he should be checked out by a vet; however, it isn't an emergency. There are certain signs to look for that would be considered a medical emergency, and would require immediate veterinary care.

  • The limb is dangling at an unnatural angle, which could be due to dislocation or fracture
  • The bone is piercing the skin
  • Swelling of the limb
  • Dragging the limb which could be a sign of nerve damage
  • Hot limbs

What Should You Do If Your Dog Is Limping?

If your pet's limping is constant and appears to be very painful, there are a few things you should do to prevent further injury and additional pain.

  • Don't let him walk around
  • Check the angles of the painful limb for signs of dislocation and fractures
  • Contact the vet immediately

If your pet's condition is intermittent and he can put some weight on the limb, you should do the following:

  • Apply a cold compress to the affected area. After 24-hours, switch to a warm compress
  • Encourage your pet to rest the limb
  • Avoid giving him an over-the-pain reliever. These medications can cause adverse side effects. Also, if your vet wants to prescribe veterinary NSAIDS, this won't be possible until the drug that you gave your pet is out of his system.

How Is the Cause of Your Pet's Lameness and Limping Diagnosed?

When you get your pet to the veterinarian, they will order tests to find the cause. These tests include:

  • A physical exam of the limb
  • Blood tests to check for an infection
  • X-rays to check the condition of the bones and joints
  • MRI or CT scan to check for soft tissue damage

If your pet is limping, contact Bridgwater Veterinary Hospital and Wellness Centre in Winnipeg. Our veterinarian will determine the cause of the limping and treat the condition accordingly.  

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