Dogs

Dog Leg Pain: How Can You Help?

golden retriever top of a mountin

Dog Leg Pain: What Should You Do?

 

Estimated Read Time: 6 ½ minutes

Summary: In this blog, we learn all about dog leg pain. We’ll explore the causes, discuss potential dog leg pain home remedies, and how to help your dog’s leg pain long term…

 

What Are The Symptoms Of Dog Leg Pain?

Dog leg pain can present itself in a variety of ways. Symptoms can include:

  • A reluctance to jump, run, walk, climb into the car or use the stairs
  • Stiffness after resting or walks (very common in senior dogs)
  • Slow walking
  • Swollen joints or legs
  • Holding their leg up/Reluctance to weight-bear
  • Excessively licking at a leg
  • Odd walking/Unusual gait
  • General slowing down
  • Joint swelling
  • Loss of muscle mass

Petlab Co. Pro Tip: Many owners make the assumption that their dog is getting slower in pace due to age, but it’s always worth getting them assessed by the vet just in case it’s an underlying condition that you could be helping them with. 

Leg pain, limpness, stiffness and lameness is a very strong indicator that something is wrong with your dog’s lower limbs. 

If your dog limps suddenly, this is most likely caused by a trauma, wound or injury. If your dog’s leg pain has onset gradually, this is usually an underlying condition like osteoarthritis, something like Legg-Calve-Perthes diseaseor dysplasia.

German Shepherd dog in road

What Causes Dog Leg Pain?

There are many reasons that could be causing a dog to limp, become/seem lame or seem painful. These causes vary depending on whether it’s the front or back leg(s) that is (are) affected by the pain.

Front Leg Conditions

  • Elbow or Shoulder Dysplasia
  • Abnormal bone growth

Back Leg Conditions

  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease
  • Patella Luxation (kneecap)

Conditions That Can Affect Both Front & Back Legs

  • Arthritis
  • Bone tumours
  • Slipped disc
  • Nerve problems
  • An issue with the muscles
  • Panosteitis (or growing pains – inflamed outer surface of the longer leg bones)
  • Osteochondrosis (A condition that causes a problem with the cartilage)

Injury

  • Cruciate ligament injury (back legs only)
  • Achilles tendon injury (back legs only)
  • Claw injury
  • Sprain
  • Strain
  • Wounds (including their paw pads)
  • Muscle pull
  • Dislocated joints
  • Broken bone(s)
Golden Retriever blue sky

What Can I Give My Dog For Leg Pain?

Dogs are excellent at masking their pain from their owners so even if the pain only seems minor to you, it’s essential you get them assessed by the vet to understand what the underlying condition is before you go about trying to treat or manage the leg pain. 

It should be a matter of emergency if your dog appears in severe pain, distress, is unable to put their leg down/weight-bear, there is swelling, the limb is hot to touch, their limb seems to be dangling (suggesting dislocation) or has an obvious, serious wound. 

Your vet will advise you on what to do after diagnosing the cause of the pain. Recovery may just be a few days rest if it’s a sprain, or it could entail surgery if they’ve broken a bone. Either way, the sooner they see a vet, the better their prognosis will be. 

Never give a dog over-the-counter medication designed for humans like ibuprofen as this can be fatal for dogs. 

There are some general steps and dog leg pain home remedies you can implement if your dog does seem to be stiff/experiencing pain generally or has a long term condition…

General Leg Pain/Lameness In Younger Dogs

If a dog is under the age of 7 years, then the most common cause of leg pain, limping or lameness is in fact over-exercise. This can be particularly prevalent in puppies who don’t reach the end of puberty/development until they are above the age of 1. 

If you want to know how much you should be exercising your dog (between the ages of 1 and 7), depending on their size/breed, check out our guide below.

How Much Should You Exercise Your Dog?

Puppies (below the age of 1) need around 5 minutes of exercise per month of their age until they’re fully grown. For example, if they’re 3 months old they can be walked for 15 minutes a maximum of twice a day. When 4 months old this can go up to 20 minutes twice a day etc.

If you want exact clarity on how much exercise your dog needs specifically, ask your vet. 

General Leg Pain/Lameness In Senior Dogs

Most commonly, leg pain in older dogs can be attributed to osteoarthritis. This condition typically affects the knees, elbows, shoulders and hips. A great way of supporting a dog as they begin to exhibit signs of arthritic pain (or your vet diagnoses it) is sourcing a joint care supplement from a reputable brand (like us!), that’s packed with ingredients like glucosamine HCL, turmeric, fish oil, and chondroitin sulphate all of which can help alleviate the symptoms of joint pain and discomfort. 

In addition, you should put rugs down on laminate flooring to stop their feet sliding and hurting their joints more, keep toy throwing low and shorten the length of their walks. 

Weight Management

The easiest way to maintain the health of your dog’s legs and joints is to keep their weight in check. Being overweight puts enormous pressure on their joints and can cause your dog unnecessary pain.

You may be able to notice that your dog is overweight just by looking at them, but there are signs to help you decide if they really need to be losing weight. Different breeds are safe to carry varying amounts of body fat, so if you are unsure of the ideal weight for your pup, ask your vet for a weigh-in.

The first thing you can do is check to see if you can feel their ribs and spine. When stroking their stomach or back, you should be able to slightly feel their bones. If their bones are buried under the fat, it’s likely that they’re overweight. That said, if you feel the bones protruding through too prominently, they could be underweight.

Use the Petlab Co. Bodyweight Assessor Chart to help you determine if Fido may be carrying too many extra pounds:

Is Your Dog Over Weight?

If you think your pet is overweight, read our blog on How To Help An Overweight Dog and consult with their vet. 

Related Reads

Dog Massage: 9 “Life Changing” Benefits

This Marine Animal Is The Key To Stronger Joints In Dogs

Sources

PDSA

American Kennel Club

Pet-GP

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