why dogs limp

Causes Of Limping On Front & Back Legs

We’ve written a guide to the common causes of limping in puppies and dogs. This companion page is designed to help you narrow down the possibilities based on which leg is lame.

Causes of Limping On A Back Leg

  • Patellar luxation
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Cruciate ligament rupture
  • Neurological causes
  • Arthritis
  • Fractures
  • Dislocations
  • Bone Cancer
  • Sprains
  • Muscle Tears
  • Grass seeds and other foreign bodies
  • Pad, Nail and Skin Problems

Causes Of Limping On A Front Leg

  • Angular limb deformity
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Biceps tendon injury
  • Carpal sprain
  • Arthritis
  • Fractures
  • Dislocations
  • Bone Cancer
  • Sprains
  • Muscle Tears
  • Grass seeds and other foreign bodies
  • Pad, Nail and Skin Problems

Which Leg Is A Dog Limping On?

Our video shows the characteristic head bob of a left foreleg lameness. The ‘up’ phase of the head bob is in time with using the affected leg so that the upward movement takes weight off the leg. However, it’s often easier to see the head drop. Here’s how:

  • Get the dog trotting towards you from a distance of 10 to 20 metres
  • Start by watching the head and counting the rhythm: “up, down, up, down, up, down etc”
  • Now keep counting the rhythm and shift your gaze to the legs
  • The leg that is in use when you say “up” is the leg the dog is limping on

Dogs are notorious for not limping at the vet so if you bring along a video like this it helps a lot! There’s no easy way to explain how to tell which back leg a dog is limping on but the vet should be able to tell from the video and examination.

Do Dogs Fake A Limp?

Believe it or not, I get asked this question a lot. The answer is no: a limp always means something and it is almost always caused by pain. Now visit Why Dogs Limp to learn more!

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