You may notice your dog moving slowly or limping around the house. Lameness can have different signs and effects on dogs. For this reason, we will explain what lameness is in dogs, so you’ll know what to do and decide on the best way to end the pain.
What Is Lameness in Dogs?
Lameness in dogs refers to their inability to properly use one or more limbs or bear weight on a limb. It is often associated with pain or injury, such as soft tissue injury, sprained ligament, bone fracture, and abnormal skeletal anatomy. Common signs include weakness, limb swelling, and joint dysfunction.
Your dog may experience lameness for various reasons and at any point in life. The decrease in normal mobility can be subtle or severe, intermittent or constant. Emergency treatment may be necessary, yet there are instances where the pain could be excruciating for your pet.
What Does Lameness Look Like in Dogs?
Lameness can look different in dogs, mainly due to their age. However, the most obvious sign is that they hop or skin when walking or running.
- Lameness in older dogs: Older or seniors may experience lameness due to arthritis or osteosarcoma, especially for large-breed dogs.
- Lameness in younger dogs: Younger dogs and puppies still develop musculoskeletal systems, making them prone to bone injuries.
Canine Limping on the Hind Leg
The most common lameness in dogs is on the hind leg. This lameness is because your pet doesn’t want to put too much weight on the injured limb. When this happens, you may see your dog doing little hops or skips when walking or running.
Canine Limping on the Foreleg
Dogs with swollen or wounded paws may have lameness on the foreleg. Lameness on the front legs may cause your pet to have shorter strides.
Canine Limping When Getting Up
This lameness could be a sign of arthritis if your dog shows signs of lameness when getting up after resting. Stiffer joints are evident, especially in older dogs.
What Are the Causes of Dog Lameness?
Lameness in dogs can prevent their bones, joints, or ligaments from working correctly, causing them to limp and limit mobility. Canine lameness can come from foot injuries, joint conditions, bone diseases, and injuries and trauma.
An injury to a dog’s foot is a common sign of canine lameness. Wobbling may happen due to these reasons. You may notice your pet constantly licking the paws to ease the pain.
- Punctured foot due to glass or thorns
- Insect or animal bites
- Lacerations and burns
- Overgrown or broken toenails
- Frostbite and bruising
Joint or Ligament Conditions
Dogs diagnosed with joint and ligament diseases can suffer lameness over time. Chronic or recurring musculoskeletal system lameness can come from these conditions. A study shows that one in five dogs experience joint problems, resulting in potential mobility issues.
- Elbow or hip dysplasia
- Dislocated knees
Lameness in dogs prevents a dog’s bones from functioning correctly. These bone conditions can significantly damage your dog’s skeletal system.
- Congenital abnormalities
- Bone cancer
- Trauma to the legs
- Broken bones
- Nerve damage
What Are the Signs of Lameness in Dogs?
You’ll know if your dog suffers from lameness if you observe signs.
- Unusual walking pattern
- Unusual posture when standing or sitting
- Limb swelling
- Sudden bleeding in the paws
- Muscle mass loss
- Evident bone dislocation
- Reluctance to run or climb the stairs
- Dragging the limbs or paws
- Difficulty in jumping
- Walking at a slower pace
- Vocalizing or other signs of fear
- Other unusual symptoms, such as lethargy or vomiting
What to Do if a Dog Has Lameness
First, you’ll need to ensure comfort if your dog is showing signs of lameness. This comfort includes providing sleeping and eating areas your pet can easily access without putting too much strain on the affected limb.
Furthermore, you can pursue treatment if your dog has persistent lameness. However, you should also be open to considering pet euthanasia, particularly if your pet isn’t getting any better.
Understanding what lameness is in a dog can help you determine the extent of treatment. While treatment is possible, the success rate still depends on the diagnosis.
- Complete rest and restricting movement for those with minor causes of lameness, such as a sprain
- Intake of anti-inflammatories and painkillers
- Intake of nutritional supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate
- Weight management for overweight dogs
- Orthopedic or neurological surgery for severe cases like slipped discs
There may be cases wherein medication and surgery won’t be enough. Unfortunately, this may only prolong your pet’s agony.
Consider euthanasia if lameness prohibits your pet from having a good quality of life. While this could be difficult, in-home pet euthanasia can end your dog’s pain and suffering. Likewise, this is a reasonable option for those facing financial problems in treatment.
Caring for sick or terminally ill pets can have a physical, mental, emotional, and financial toll on pet owners. A study shows that caring for chronically ill pets can increase a person’s risk of stress and depressive symptoms.
Is Lameness in Dogs Serious?
Lameness in a dog can be severe if a vet doesn’t diagnose and treat it right away. Some dogs can recover from the signs and effects of lameness. However, there may be instances where nerve and muscle function may permanently impair a dog’s neuromuscular functions.
How Can a Vet Diagnose Lameness in Dogs?
To diagnose lameness, a vet must examine your dog for abnormalities in the bones and joints. X-rays, blood tests, and a full review of your dog’s medical history can also help determine the cause and extent of the problem.
How Can You Prevent Lameness in a Dog?
Weight management, proper exercise, and the right diet can prevent your dog from experiencing lameness. Be sure to treat minor injuries immediately, especially those on the paws. It also helps to be aware of potential genetic issues in some breeds.
Canine lameness is a pain or injury prohibiting dogs from adequately using one or more limbs. Whether acute, recurring, or chronic lameness, euthanasia is a potential solution to end the suffering. Paws Into Grace can guide you in making the best decision for your dog’s health.