Causes and Treatment for Limping in Dogs

Photo credit: Bigstockphoto
Photo credit: Bigstockphoto

Nothing is more heartbreaking than seeing a pet suffer any kind of pain. Just like human beings, dogs are just as prone to breaking bones. If you see your dog limping, hobbling, or staggering, do not treat the dog on your own. Rather, take your pet to the nearest vet for prompt medical attention.

A limp could be caused by a serious condition affecting the nervous system, the skin, or the musculoskeletal system of the dog. Always keep an eye on your pet especially when you let him out to play to prevent any accident. Below are possible causes of limping in dogs:

Limping in Young Dogs


One of the most common causes of limping in puppies or very young dogs is trauma. Puppies tend to be all over the place and they expend their high energy by running around and being in all sorts of trouble. Rough playing could result in claw fractures, broken bones, and laceration that lead to limping or hobbling.

Congenital Diseases

Some pups could be born with an inherited disease that causes limping. Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, patellar luxation, elbow dysplasia, or hip dysplasia are orthopedic disorders that cause lameness or limping in dogs.


Infection in certain areas of the dog could cause the animal to limp. Infection could be a result of Lyme disease, tick infestation, or bites from other dogs.

Limping in Older Dogs


Even dogs are not exempted from the breaking down of the joints. The constant wear and tear on the joints could cause various bone problems, especially for older dogs.


Some types of dog breeds—particularly dogs belonging to the chondrodystrophic dog breed—tend to be more prone to lameness than other dogs. That’s because their dwarfed frame causes degeneration of their vertebrae.

Ligament Disease

Ligament diseases affect the knees in aging or older dogs. This results in inflammation, pain, instability, and—depending on the severity of the condition—mild to severe limping.


Tumors or growth in the bones, muscles joints, and nerves could also cause pronounced limping in both young and old dogs. This is why it’s important to be vigilant of your pet’s health to ensure his health and prevent the progression of such chronic diseases.


The treatment for limping in dogs will depend on the underlying cause of lameness. In mild cases of limping, your vet could prescribe anti-inflammatory medication. But severe cases of limping will require surgery, rehabilitation, or long-term therapy.

If your pet is limping, you want to make sure he doesn’t make the symptoms worse. Confine your pet to a small cage or a carrier to prevent him from jumping or running. Take your pet to the vet and once you come home, give him his vet-prescribed medication at the right dosage and time. Always monitor the progress of your pet to check if the meds are working or if the condition is getting worse.

If say, your pet started exhibiting other symptoms, such as vomiting, fever, or loss in appetite apart from lameness, you will need to go back to the vet for a diagnosis.