3 reasons your dog may be limping on a hind leg

October 24, 2014

Below are some of the most common reasons your dog may be limping on his back leg.

3 reasons your dog may be limping on a hind leg

A variety of injuries and ailments could cause your dog to limp on one of its hind legs. Most limps are caused by minor sprains or strains and sort themselves out on their own. However, if your dog is in serious pain or his limp persists for longer than 24 hours, seek veterinary attention. Below are some of the most common reasons your dog may be limping on his back leg.

1. Cuts or punctures

One of the most common causes of limping is a cut or puncture wound to the paw pad or in the area between the toes. This most frequently occurs during walks or when playing outside, as your dog may stand on a sharp object or get thorns or grass seeds stuck between his pads. If your dog starts limping suddenly after exercise, a cut or puncture could be the reason. It's usually possible to determine if this is the cause of your dog's limp simply by looking at his bad paw. A veterinarian may need to treat the wound or remove the foreign object.

2. Arthritis

Arthritis is a frequent cause of limping in dogs over the age of eight. Lameness and stiffness in the back leg or legs may come and go. A veterinarian will be able to take X-rays to determine if any limping is caused by arthritis. Medication can help treat discomfort, but there are also other ways to lessen the symptoms, such as keeping your dog at a healthy weight and making sure he gets some mild exercise. Large dogs are particularly prone to this condition.

3. Hip dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a hereditary condition caused by looseness between the ball and socket of the hip joint. Since this is a skeletal problem, dogs affected by this condition will have had it since birth, although they generally won't show symptoms until they're adults.

In mild or moderate cases, dogs might not show any signs of hip dysplasia until they reach four or five years old. If your dog is limping on both back legs, or if his limp switches from one hind leg to the other, the limp could be a sign of hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia can be treated with long-term medication or surgery in more severe cases. Certain breeds, such as bulldogs and German Shepherds, have a high incidence of this ailment.

If your dog is limping on a back leg, it may or may not be caused by a serious condition. The majority of limps occur due to a bruise or strained muscle, but it's worth getting your pup checked out just to be sure.

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