Lameness in Your Younger Dog

When your pup develops a limp, do you rush to the doctor, or first doctor it yourself? When it comes to limping, there’s usually no crime in delaying your clinic visit by a day or two, as long as you’re doing the right things. During that time, all of the patient’s activities should be completely restricted so that she’s either resting or taking a short, controlled trip to the potty. Especially for a wilder youngster, you might find that a little R & R was all she needed.
Let the severity of the condition be your guide. Appetite disturbances or lethargic behavior should addressed promptly, since they suggest that the illness is not confined to the leg. If your pet is crying out in pain, you obviously won’t want to wait any 48 hours. It’s very rare for dogs to cry about discomfort; this may indicate a broken bone. At any rate, the patient is in need of more aggressive pain relief, and the vet is your best source for that.
If you do postpone your vet visit for a day or two of strict rest, be sure to use the time wisely. If you can tell which leg is the limper, you might want to write that down somewhere. It’s extremely common for a dog to “leave the limp at home” when visiting a heath professional. Temporary resolution of a limp doesn’t mean the problem is solved or even that the pain is inconsequential; it’s just that your dog’s all loaded up on adrenaline at the clinic. Most dogs have little respect for time and money—two of the reasons why we adore them, by the way—so they may not bother to showcase the limp. You, on the other hand, will be annoyed if your appointment is more lengthy and less productive because no one in the family can recall which leg is off. Many pet owners have difficulty articulating which side is affected, because the left paw is on our right when we face the pet. I’ve had better success using the terms “driver’s side” and passenger side” instead. What if it’s difficult to tell which one is the limper? That might be because it’s a subtle lameness, but it might also mean that there are two legs involved or—possibly—that the lameness is moving from leg to leg. Two lame legs may mean that the problem is at the top, and shifting lameness is commonly associated with tick-borne infections.
Even if you can’t confidently locate the unwell leg, be sure to inform your doctor of any other subtle changes. Running like a bunny, with the hind feet together, is not normal for canines. That usually indicates dysfunction in the hip. Likewise, it could be significant if your dog always sits on either the left or right butt cheek; this often points to a knee.
In general, your younger dogs have greater odds of injury, infection, and things that they were born with. Next time around, we’ll shift our focus to the older dogs.

Dr M.S. Regan