There are many causes for a dog limping, but what we do about it is most important. Over the past few weeks, this has become increasingly apparent to me as a dog therapist, in around 1 in every 3 patients I have seen. Whether working at dog sports events or seeing household pets that have had occasional limping, the common finding is that when a dog becomes lame we do not rest it enough!
Firstly, when our dog becomes lame, we must provide complete rest. That means restricted create rest, and if you do not have a crate, then use a small area or approximately 1×1 meter with non-slip floors and no furniture to jump on. Period. No compromises! A follow up with prompt veterinary attention is recommended. Even if it doesn’t initially appear serious, dog limping can turn into a serious condition.
Recently, at a dog sports event, a little dog injured its back leg. As the owner approached me with the dog, it held its leg up very high and tucked into its body. Instantly, I realised we have a problem, but why? It was a beautiful little dog and was very good, allowing us to feel around, trying to discover why it couldn’t put its foot down. The owner agreed not to run the dog in any other events. I recommended complete rest and confinement and a trip to the vet within the next few days.
Two days later I came across this same owner who said that they only rested the dog for 1 day, as the next morning the dog was walking on the leg again. Within a few hours, the dog tried to jump onto a bed, but didn’t make it up, and was again holding his leg up. I asked why the dog had not been confined and was told, “but the dog doesn’t run around the house”. Unfortunately, this 18-month dog has a little tear in its muscle just below the knee.
Interestingly, this week I saw an amazing patient, a 10-year-old beagle, who’d been presenting with occasional limping for nearly 4 months. The owners didn’t know what else to do. The poor dog was struggling and had been to the vet, had three courses of anti-inflammatory with a little bit of rest, and X-rays, which came back showing no obvious abnormalities. However, on examination, the dog was found to have moderate atrophy in her whole shoulder region and was clearly in pain when her shoulder was put into flexion with elbow extension. The vet had not been able to find the cause and the dog was still in pain. When I asked if they had rested the dog and for how long, they replied: “yes, a little bit when she was on anti-inflammatories, but we have two really young playful dogs at home”. Regretfully this dog requires an ultrasound.
Just last month a 14-year-old border collie accidentally did the splits on slippery floorboards at home and had been limping sporadically since. Following a visit to the vet, 3 days of anti-inflammatories and forced rest, he was soon running around again.
How to solve dog limping
When your dog limping, rest is the most important aspect of healing your dog’s body. Dogs are no different to people when it comes to recovery: their body will heal, it just takes time and patience. The best conditions for recovery are to only allow limited amounts of gentle activity, without the heavy stresses of running, jumping, or extended use. Next is to seek dog massage therapy. To learn more go to our service click here.
How long should you allow your dog to recover? There is no specific timescale. The time required varies according to the severity of the injury and the size and age of the dog. By increasing activity gradually, watchfully, and cautiously, your dog will eventually reach the best possible recovery. Remember: you must carefully restrict activity and you must have patience.
Another important aspect of the healing process is a positive outlook for your dog. Like most people, dogs are social creatures and may become depressed if isolated. A dog shut away in a back room may become despondent and not do as well as he would with his family around him.
You want the best for your dog and so does Canine Balance. We specialise in helping you stay on track while your dog recovers from its limping problem. We treat your dog with massage, muscle manipulation of the spine, and a gentle exercise program, to get them back to walking, running, jumping, and playing again, without re-injuring and as quickly and painlessly as possible. Why wait? Help your dog limping today. Reach out to us through our free 10-minute phone chat at www.caninebalance.com.au