A limp or a lame dog can result from several factors. The limp can appear overnight or gradually over a period of time. It can be a minor limp or it can be pronounced. In general the cause of a lame dog can be traced to an injury, pain, or faults in the anatomical structure. Sometimes, it can also happen because of disease.
A dog with a problem in one of the hind legs will keep both hind legs separated more than usual. An issue with the forelegs will result in the animal avoiding movement. In both cases, it is not difficult to make out the leg that the animal seems to be favoring.
Treatment depends upon proper identification of the cause. Sometimes, your pet dog may limp because of a minor irritant such as a thorn or maybe the paw pads carry a cut because the animal stepped on a sharp object. A little first aid and treatment to avoid infection will have Fido back on its feet and running around with no discomfort at all. Interdigital pyoderma, which is an infection between toes, caused by allergies is another very easy to treat condition. But left to itself, it causes the animal to limp.
Overgrown toenails are another problem,for a lame dog these are easy to catch and treat but left unattended, such a condition can cause the animal to limp and live in pain.
A fracture is an example of a sudden trauma injury that may result in a permanent or a temporary limp. On the other hand, a cruciate ligament tear happens over a period of time and is an age-related degenerative process. Swelling in the knee is a symptom. Hip dysplasia is another age-related condition that can lead to a change in the animal’s gait. Sometimes, the limp may be from conditions found more commonly in certain breeds.
Lameness in the front leg is sometimes caused by sesamoid fractures and these are more common with Rottweilers than with other breeds. Rottweilers are also more prone to osteosarcomas or cancer of the bone. Therefore, any hint of a limp with dogs of this breed requires urgent medical attention. Pugs, bulldogs and Boston Terriers are prone to patellar luxation, a deformity at the knees.
Nutrition-related conditions include rickets, vitamin D deficiency, and hyperparathyroidism. These can cause the animal to limp or to be considered a lame dog
. Obesity-related osteochondrosis puts an unnatural load on the animal’s limbs. Arthritis of the shoulders is another cause seen in heavily-built dogs.
Diagnosis of a limp or a lame dog is done by a clinical exam, an x-ray to check for fractures and arthritis, and if need be a joint tap may have to be done to rule out inflammation or infection.
Lameness accompanied by fever may indicate a tick-borne condition such as Lyme Disease. Swelling at the lymph nodes is a tell-tale indicator.
Panosteitis is a condition seen in growing dogs; it appears suddenly and leads to an inflammation of the long bones. The pain and accompanying limp shifts from one leg to the other. German Shepherds are prone to this condition.
The treatment will vary with the cause. Simple antibiotics, systemic antibiotics, topical steroids, surgery, dietary supplements, etc are some of the modes of treatment available.
Since a limp in dogs is often a symptom of a deeper malaise, it should be taken seriously.Having pet insurance is of great help in such situations and is a must for all pet owners.