4 possible reasons your dog is limping

November 16, 2014

With four paws constantly on the ground, it may only be a matter of time before you see your pup with a limp. Limping could be a temporary, benign issue. Other times, limping can be an indication of injury, infection or something worse. Your best course of action is to inspect its limbs immediately to locate the source – or potential source – of the problem and determine what is causing your dog to limp.

Growing pains

Young puppies of medium to large breeds sometimes experience growing pains called panosteitis or “pano” – a temporary inflammation in the legs. Often, it will affect one leg at a time, so the limping seemingly migrates from front to back or one side to another. Anti-inflammatory medications can help alleviate the pain, and your dog will, quite literally, grow out of it.


Foot injuries are quite common in dogs, especially those who are quite active. Check their footpads and the webbing between the pads for evidence of cracks, bee stings or foreign objects. If it’s a foreign object, simply removing it may alleviate the issue.

A torn or split nail can cause pain if it reaches the base where the skin meets the nail. If nails are left to grow too long, they can become overgrown and can push back into the skin of the footpad. Active dogs can naturally file down their nails during walks and playtime, but older, less active dogs are more susceptible to overgrown nails. Nails that are cut too short can cause bleeding and open up the chance for infection. Trim nails regularly as part of your dog’s regular grooming routine.

Dogs can damage the ligaments and tendons in their ankles and knees. Check for swelling in and around the joint area. If your pooch is unable to put pressure on the leg, consult your veterinarian immediately. You will need to limit your dog’s activity and possibly apply cold compresses to alleviate swelling.


If your dog suffers from skin allergies, he may excessively lick his paws. Constant moisture between the toe pads can lead to infections, abscesses or cysts. Wrap the paw and change the dressing daily to allow it to fully heal.

Joint issues

Just like in humans, a dog’s joints simply wear out. Dogs older than eight frequently suffer from arthritis in the back and legs. Because some dogs are bred to be pain resistant, he may not let you know there’s pain until it’s quite advanced. Overweight dogs suffer from arthritis more often. Keeping your dog’s weight in check will alleviate extra pressure on the joints, possibly preventing early-onset arthritis.

If you’re unable to immediately determine the cause of your dog’s limping, watch for any change in their mood. If the limping does not improve in 24 hours, seek veterinary care.

4 possible reasons your dog is limping
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