If your pet is limping then there is likely discomfort somewhere. The most important thing to decide is if you need to go to the vet or not.

Why Is My Dog Limping?

Some things that may help your vet decide what to do is to note which leg it is (do this from the dog’s perspective), how long has it been a problem, did you see the injury happen, is it worse at a certain time of day or after exercise.

Write down any hints you may have. It is amazing how a limp can disappear when a dog walks through the clinic door and adrenaline takes over. It may be harder than you think to remember once you are in the room which leg brought you in.

If your pet will let you look, check all the toenails, in-between the toes, the paw pads, the fur on the bottom of the feet first. Many times there is a rash or something stuck in between the toes that is the cause of limping.

If the foot is too sore then you may have to go to your vet for help. If your pet can’t stand on the limb, the problem could be more serious and seeking medical advice should be moved up the priority list.

It may be a good idea to withhold food from your dog if you are heading to the vet that day. This is so that if sedation would be helpful, then there is less risk of anesthesia complications.


Dogs’ GI tracts and kidneys can be very sensitive to pain medication and can easily have reactions if this is not done carefully. There are several important interactions so think if your pet is on any other medicines prior to adding in pain medication. Remind your vet (nicely) of any medications that your pet may be taking.

If you choose not to take your pet to the doctor, then you need to decide if it is a good idea to exercise them or not while they are limping. If the limp is severe, just like if you were hurt, resting the injury may be very helpful.

If they do better with rest, when you decide they are ready to start back to walking around-GO SLOWLY. Treat the injury how your doctor would want you to treat yours.

Sometimes it can be very difficult to figure out which leg is the one with problems. It is OK if you are not sure. Frequently you may be sure the limp is on one leg but your vet may have a different opinion. If the problem seems to come and go or shift from leg to leg, this is an important clue as well.

If the limping has been going on a while and you thought it would get better but it has not, then it is OK to tell your vet this sort of information too. Let them know about ANY medications you have given and any treatments you have tried. How did they work for your dog? This will be helpful for the vet when deciding which medications may help and what the next course of action may be.

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