Is your pet limping? Many times, our clients will call our facility with questions about what to do and when concerning a limping pet friend. In some cases, limping can be a sign of an immediate need for care.
What Causes Pet Limping?
Pet limping can occur for many reasons. It can occur suddenly, or sporadically (on again, off again over the course of a few days). If you notice that your pet’s stride isn’t normal, though, you shouldn’t put off treatment. Every limp means your pet is not using their foot in the proper manner, which could lead to strain on their other legs, hips, or joints. The most common causes of pet limping include:
- Trauma to the leg, foot, joint, or shoulder area, from being struck by something
- Sprains and strains to the ligaments
- Ligament disease and inflammation
- Hip or elbow dysplasia (a common, hereditary cause for limping that relates to the joint becoming loose)
- Other degenerative diseases
- Some type of anatomic defect
- Mass development
It’s important to maintain routine appointments for your pet with your veterinarian. This will provide the best opportunity to prevent a worsening condition.
When Should You Seek an Emergency Veterinarian?
There are many instances in which an emergency vet is best. Most commonly, you should call us immediately if:
- Your pet has suffered any type of trauma, or if bleeding is present, or you can identify an obviously broken bone
- The animal will not use the leg at all
- The pet is otherwise not feeling well, such as dehydration, high fever, or not responding to you
- The injury is sudden (chronic conditions should still seek help as soon as possible)
- The pet does not improve quickly
How is Limping Diagnosed if Nothing’s Found Externally?
If your veterinarian doesn’t find wounds or infections on your pet, he will begin palpating joints and bones to determine where areas of pain, instability, or swelling may exist. Laboratory tests including radiographs, complete blood counts, and urine testing can further help your vet develop an accurate diagnosis if he suspects limping is due to a systemic disease.
What are Treatments for Pet Limping?
Your veterinarian typically applies standard wound care (antibiotic ointment and/or shots) to cuts, ripped claws, and insect/animal bites. If arthritis, hip dysplasia. or other joint and muscle problems are causing limping or lameness, veterinary procedures include but are not limited to surgery, medications, and reducing physical activity. Corticosteroids like Prednisone may significantly reduce the inflammation and swelling of arthritis joints in pets. If a fracture is discovered through an x-ray, your Los Angeles veterinarian may need to apply a cast or splint to the affected limb.
Be aware that sudden, severe limping and lameness should be considered an emergency. Your pet may be suffering a serious disease or seizure that requires immediate veterinary attention.