4 reasons why your dog might limp after a walk

October 24, 2014

If your dog develops a limp after a walk, a number of factors, ranging from sprains to foreign object injuries, may be to blame.

4 reasons why your dog might limp after a walk

Dogs tend to exert themselves when out on a walk, especially when running off the leash. A dog that limps after a walk could have suffered from one of several injuries.

If your dog appears to be in a lot of pain or his limp persists for more than 24 hours, take him to a veterinarian immediately. Otherwise, a cold compress and total rest from exercise should do the trick and help him feel better. Below are some of the most common causes of limping after walks.

1. Lacerations or puncture wounds

Unfortunately, there are all kinds of objects that could cut or puncture your dog's paw when out on a walk, such as thorns or broken glass. Check the paw of the affected leg for cuts or puncture wounds as well as foreign objects that might be stuck in his paw.

2. Sprains or strains

It's common for dogs to develop sprains or strains if they overexert themselves while out on their walk. If your dog is limping, but has no obviously lacerations and can put weight on his bad leg, then it's likely he's suffering from a sprain or a strain. You may also notice some heat and swelling in one of the joints in his bad leg. The best thing for a sprain is rest.

3. Fractures

Your dog could fracture any one of the bones in his legs or paws when out on a walk, especially if he fell, tripped or jumped. There are usually no external signs of a fracture, but if your dog has suffered a serious break, you may notice his leg hangs at an unusual angle. If a dog has a fracture, he probably won't be able to put any weight at all on his bad leg. If you suspect your dog has a fracture, take him to the vet as soon as possible.

4. Cracked toenails

It's easy for your dog to crack a toenail while out on a walk, either by catching it on something or simply by putting too much pressure on it while running. Even a small crack is enough to cause a limp, but unless there's blood, it shouldn't require any veterinary attention. If your dog's toenail is cracked and bleeding, a vet can clean, cauterize and bandage it.

If you inspect your dog's leg and paw, and can't see an obvious injury, it's likely that he's just overdone it on his walk. However, keep an eye on him and seek professional veterinary help if he's still limping within a day or so.

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