One week ago my puppy suddenly started limping in her right front leg which is definitely not a good sign as Rottweilers tend to have so many joint diseases.
So we took her to the vet and got pain killers and the order to give her as much rest as possible for 10 days.
We do not know what causes her limping and just hope for the best. I know how concerning it is to have a dog limping but a puppy is especially alarming for their young age.
There are many reasons for limping in a puppy from more mild muscle sprains to more serious hip dysplasia.
What Causes Puppy Limping?
“Luckily” the most common cause for limping in puppies is a muscle strain which can be treated with rest. Try to disengage him from being active and running around too much. Also, skip puppy class if you are enrolled in one.
Their young bones and joints are still growing and can cause a funny walk. You don’t need to be concerned if he is just walking around wobbly. You have to differentiate between sudden limping and gradual onset. Gradual onset limps are caused by an underlying chronical disease such as hip dysplasia. Sudden limps imply a trauma or an injury.
Pay attention to how your puppy is handling the limping. If he is in pain, he will only take small steps with the hurting leg and refuses to put weight on it. Poor nutrition will cause him to shift the limping from one leg to another or might result in lameness in more than one leg at a time. This disease is called osteodystrophy and develops from a lack of minerals or an all meat diet. You should speak to your vet about how you can improve his nutrition.
Puppies can quickly recover from limping, so if it doesn’t improve after a short time, your puppy should be taken to the vet. The following causes are more serious and will also need veterinarian care to heal:
- Trauma: Developing and soft bones are prone to even mild trauma that can quickly result in fractures and breaks. It can happen everywhere and your dog should be getting plenty of rest. If he suddenly started limping, wait for 15 minutes and see if the problem resolves by itself. Maybe he just stepped the wrong way.
- Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease: Usually affects one hip joint and is most common in small and toy breeds. The growing bone cannot be sufficiently supplied with blood, causing the head of the bone to crumble.
- Asymmetrical Growth: Usually joints and bones grow simultaneously and if one leg is growing faster than it others it will result in limping. It often happens to one leg, so the body moves around the growing leg which results in limping.
- Wobbly kneecaps: Also called Luxating Patellas is a disease most common in small and toy breeds. The knee can lock in the wrong position causing pain and limping in dogs.
- Hip dysplasia: When the hip joint doesn’t fit into the socket, it will cause limping. This condition can be treated by non-surgical interventions through medication and stem cell therapy and hip modification surgeries.
- Elbow dysplasia: Caused by anatomical misalignment, similar to hip dysplasia.
- Bone disease: Large breeds are the most prone to bone diseases like bone cancer. Your dog will experience walking as very painful and will refuse to put weight on the leg. A fast diagnosis will get you the best treatment.
Here are all the causes again at a glance:
My Puppy is Limping but Not Crying?
If your puppy is won’t take a step with his leg and you are able to touch it without him crying, this is actually a good sign. This could indicate a simple muscle sprain and should get better after a few days if he really doesn’t seem to feel pain. A limping dog with a serious injury would be in great pain and would yelp or even get aggressive when you try to touch it.
If he refuses to put any weight on it then you should take him to the vet soon. Do not give him any painkillers or medication that is for humans and not prescribed by your vet.
When to Call the Clinic Immediately?
There is always this question of urgency if the issue can wait for the next morning or if you have to call the vet right now. If your dog acts normal, drinks and eats and doesn’t seem to be in abnormal pain, then you can probably wait for the next day.
Examine the leg, if it is either swollen, hot, dislocated or cracked into another angle, then you will have to bring your dog to the emergency room to avoid further complications such as infections or internal bleeding.
How to Diagnose a Limping Dog?
The vet will start by palpating the bones and joints to see if the dog experiences pain or swelling.
He will also examine if the paw is simply hurt or something got stuck in it. Nails can also be broken and cause pain and limping.
As I said, many times the cause of limping cannot be found without some tests that need to be run by the veterinarian. If bone and joint issues are assumed an x-ray or even an MRT has to be made.
What You Can Do
Give your puppy some rest and see if the limping goes away. Look if he has some visible injuries or something stuck in his paw.
Do not give your dog over the counter medicine or pain killers for humans as they are dangerous for your pet and will cause some serious side effects. Your dog won’t be able to get some real medication from the vet before the pain killers are washed out.
If you notice that the limp is persistent, take a video of your dog limping, so your vet can easily see the issue. Keep your dog calm to prevent further injuries.
Disclaimer: This blog post doesn’t substitute veterinary attention and does not intend to do so. If your dog shows any signs of illness, call your vet.