Pet Care Basics, Puppy and Kitten Care

Limping Puppy: What Should I Do If My Dog Is Limping?

There are many reasons a puppy may show signs of lameness or limping. Maybe the reason is obvious, or maybe you find yourself asking why is my puppy limping all of a sudden? A visit to your vet is likely in your near future to determine the exact cause.

What Should I Do If My Puppy Is Limping?

Before you are able to get to the vet, it’s important to know what to do if your dog is limping. Here are my tips on what you should and should NOT do:

  1. Assess the severity of the problem. If there is severe trauma, leading to a dangling leg or exposed bone, your puppy needs immediate veterinary intervention. If your puppy is not bearing any weight on one or more legs, this is also serious and demands immediate veterinary attention. If your puppy is putting even partial weight on the leg and there is no major long bone fracture, you should seek veterinary attention in the near future, but not necessarily immediately.
  2. Assess the possible causes. Assess the situation in which you found the puppy was limping. Was he just outside playing? Did she get stepped on by one of the kids or run over by one of their toys? Was there more serious trauma? Did she seem normal before her nap, but she woke up limping? Do you see any wounds or other clues? These are all important bits of information for you to share with your veterinarian to determine the possible causes, what diagnostics should be undertaken, or what treatment should be started.
  3. Contact your veterinarian for the next possible appointment. Do NOT administer aspirin, Tylenol, or ibuprofen. Many human medications are not safe for our pets. Do NOT administer medications from your other pets without your veterinarian’s advice. Some medications will interfere with possible treatments or diagnostics your veterinary team may want to administer.
  4. Keep the puppy resting, maybe even crated, until your appointment. Do not attempt to bandage the puppy unless there is an open wound.
  5. If the puppy needs to go out to relieve herself, take video of her movement with your cell phone for your veterinarian to view. Taking the video in the slow-motion mode may help your veterinary team to see which leg is affected. Do NOT encourage her to be overly active.
  6. Plan on the veterinary appointment including a comprehensive physical examination, possible X-rays, possible blood work, appropriate pain medications, antibiotics for trauma or an infection, and possible bandaging or splinting if there is trauma or a fracture.
  7. Contact your breeder to see if they are aware of any lameness or orthopedic concerns in your puppy’s relatives that could be important for the veterinarian to be aware of. Some inherited or congenital causes include panosteitis, valgus or varus deviations, OCD (osteocondritis dissecans), UAP (ununited anconeal process), FCP (fragmented coronoid process), patellar luxation, and hip dysplasia.

Why Is My Puppy Limping

In addition to injury, trauma and genetics, other causes of lameness and limping in puppies could include Lyme disease, nutritional issues, growth deformities and infections. Make sure your veterinarian looks into all possible causes so you can discover the root of the problem.

If you have other questions about puppy health, call our Pet Care Pros at 800.786.4751.

Written by: Marty Greer, DVM

Director of Veterinary Services

Marty Greer, Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, has 40+ years’ experience in veterinary medicine, with special interests in canine reproduction and pediatrics. She received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Iowa State University in 1981. She’s served as Revival’s Director of Veterinary Services since 2019. In 2023, Dr. Greer was named the Westminster Kennel Club Veterinarian of the Year.

If you need help, call us at 800.786.4751.