We're often asked questions about dogs limping, because owners get really worried that a limp means that their beloved pet has arthritis. A limp could be the first sign of a long-term problem that could turn a happy dog like the one below into a sore, unhappy shadow of his or her former self.
This isn't always the case – just like humans, sometimes animals suffer from aches and pains that don't necessarily signify anything serious. The limp could be caused by nothing more alarming than a simple injury; a sprain, strain or bruise and it might be as simple as a cut or a thorn or burr in their paw. It could also be related to the animal's weight – being substantially overweight can cause joint strain during running and playing.
The best approach is to carefully inspect the sore leg and to look for any obvious problems. Check underneath the paw for cuts, look in between the pads of the paw as well and check for redness or inflammation that might indicate an infection or allergy of some sort. Inspect your dogs toenails – long nails are common in older or less active dogs and can often cause limping. Overgrown nails need to be trimmed by a vet.
This might well give you all the information you need to diagnose and treat the problem – a small cut is easily attended to and thorns or burrs can be removed without too much trouble.
However, if this process leaves you none the wiser, then gently and carefully move the joints of the leg and feel up and down the muscles, paying close attention to your dog's reactions. If the dog tries to pull away at a certain point, or if you feel major resistance in the range of motion, then you've got an indication as to where the trouble lies. Stop if your pet shows signs of serious discomfort.
A minor limp that doesn't seem to provoke an obvious reaction might well resolve itself in a couple of days, just like it would in a human but if the injury seems to be joint related, is resulting in quite a severe limp and doesn't go away quickly, then its best to get the vet involved. Don't give your pet over-the-counter painkillers, its always best to get advice from a vet when it comes to the use of Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatories (NSAIDs) in animals.
The joint problem might not be related to arthritis at all, it could be something like a tendon or nerve injury, a back injury or an unstable joint but your vet is best placed to make a diagnosis, especially if X-rays or other diagnostic techniques are required.
If the diagnosis is at all related to a joint problem, or even if surgery is required for something like a cruciate ligament injury, then NZ Velvet Agility products are great choices to support your dogs health, especially since all our formulas are totally natural and have none of the side effects of NSAIDs. They're loaded with glucosamine, which is fabulous for joint health, and the deer velvet also offers many other benefits (click here for a more comprehensive breakdown of what's in deer velvet). Remember, at the end of the day, natural equals safe equals effective equals happy dogs.