6 Reasons Why Your Dog Is Limping

Dogs are very active creatures, so it can be upsetting to find that your dog is limping and isn’t as active as they usually are.


There are several reasons why your dog might be limping, with some more serious than others. It is always important to consult a vet whenever your dog is limping. 


You might not need to visit the vet, but they can help you identify the possible cause and if they just need rest, pain relief or something more invasive.


Here are 6 reasons why your dog might be limping.



Dog beach Melbourne

If your dog has gone crazy at the park or beach, or you’ve taken them on a longer than normal walk, they might feel stiff and sore the next day.


A limp from over-exertion should resolve itself in a day or two. If it doesn’t, your dog might need pain killers and rest or it could be signs of more serious muscle and joint issues.


Grass seeds 

Grass seeds are most prominent in late spring and can easily become caught between the paw pads of your dog’s foot and irritate it. The problem with grass seeds is that when they become embedded in the skin, they can migrate into the body and cause serious complications.


If your dogs is limping and it is also accompanied by chewing and licking of that same paw, investigate the paw and look between the toes. If you find a lump, it could be that the grass seed is already lodged under the skin and this requires treatment from the vet.



Dogs can experience broken bones which are not visible to the untrained eye. If you can’t spot any other reason for their possible limp, they might have a fracture or dislocation that you are unaware of. An x-ray will be able to reveal if any bones are broken.



Hip and elbow dysplasia causes joints to weaken and dislocate which can cause your dog to limp. Larger breeds like the St Bernard, Great Dane, Mastiff, Rottweiler and Golden Retriever are particularly prone to dysplasia, although genetics also leave Pugs, Bulldogs and some other small breeds vulnerable. Limping as well as struggling to lie down and get up are a sign of dysplasia.


Dysplasia can sometimes be corrected with surgery or can be made less painful with painkillers. 


Torn ACL

A common injury among dogs is a torn anterior cruciate ligament. This is caused by a medial luxating patella where the knee cap becomes loose and then is completely displaced altogether. 


When the knee is partially or completely torn, or the cap is dislodged, it can cause pain and discomfort for your dog. They may be less likely to use a certain leg or “bunny hop” (stepping with both back legs at the same time) whilst walking. Genetic disposition of certain breeds, age and obesity can cause your dogs’ ACL to rupture.


When your dog has a torn or partially torn ACL, surgery is required. Read more about cruciate ligament surgery for your dog here.



Old dog with arthritis

Sometimes, limping can just be a sign of getting older. To support your elderly dog, make sure they have a soft bed to lie on, reduce how often they travel up and down stairs and take them to the vet. The vet will be able to give them pain relief and suggest a new diet or supplements that can reduce the inflammation of joints.

If your dog is limping, it is always best to visit the vet for peace of mind and to stop the problem getting worse. The experienced vets at Doncaster Vet Hospital can help diagnose limping problems for your dog. If you’re looking for an affordable vet in Melbourne, contact us to book an appointment.

Remi Audette