No matter how old your dog is, seeing it in pain is going to be painful for you. Finding the cause and taking care of it can be the difference. Knowing what to look for and how to prevent it from recurring is vital to the peace of mind of both of you.
Burrs: If the dog is an indoor/outdoor pet, burrs can be a real problem. Foxtails are the worst because they can burrow into a pad… or an eye… and be very hard to see. It is wise to always check the yard or dog park for these menaces and if there is a limp after visiting a place that has a plethora of them, check to see if one has invaded.
Burns: Here is a rule of thumb. If it is too hot or cold for you to walk on it barefoot, it is too hot or cold for the pet to walk on it bare padded. Cold can burn like heat and both will cause a limp. Dog boots are available, both as boots and something more akin to sandals for the heat. If the pads are slightly burned, cool them and then try to keep the dog inside until they heal. More serious burns need to be seen by the vet.
Cuts: A cut paw or leg can be anything from a scratch to a major emergency. Smaller cuts and scratches may cause some limping but it will clear up on its own. Puncture wounds and deep cuts will need a vet to exam the wound, clean it properly and if necessary put in stitches. If that is needed, the dog will be reintroduced to the “cone of shame,” an Elizabeth collar that will prevent him or her from taking the stitches out.
Fractures: It can happen just as fast for a dog as it can for a human. Jumping wrong, getting into a tussle with a bigger dog, many things can crack or break a bone and cause limping. Sometimes it is visible and sometimes it isn’t. However, an unexplained limp should be checked out by a vet, especially if you were able to see the injury occur and suspect a fracture.
Torn ACL: A member of the family’s dog got this injury chasing her tail. It was obvious and any walking the poor dog tried involved a hefty limp. This is usually a visible injury, although sometimes it isn’t. Many times, especially in dogs, it requires surgery to repair.
Arthritis: There is more than one type of arthritis and they can all cause an older dog to limp. By far the most common is osteoarthritis, caused by general wear and tear of the joints. There are a lot of things that can be done for arthritis, and a good supplement is one of the best.
For this ailment, let the vet diagnose so that there is a clear idea of which type of arthritis is being dealt with and which joints are affected. There will be general recommendations such as heat, pain medications and so forth. However, this is what hip and joint supplements are all about. A good quality supplement will help in this case.
Hip dysplasia: While many things can cause a hip to come out of the socket, hip dysplasia tends to be fairly breed specific. German Shepherds are known for it. This is another area where supplements may help, although the vet may have additional recommendations.
Stroke: Animals can have strokes, particularly as they get older. A stroke is a broken blood vessel in the brain. Minor strokes, sometimes referred to as TIAs are more likely to cause a slight limp or favoring of one side. The vet can do tests to see if this is the case. As with humans, medications can be prescribed.
Keep in mind that there are two types of strokes. One is the ischemic event in the brain. These tend to occur in middle aged to geriatric dogs. However, heat stroke is a killer as well. The number of times dogs have gone hiking in temperatures over one hundred degrees and didn’t live to tell the tale is astounding.
The worst culprit for heat stroke in dogs is leaving them in a vehicle. There are a lot of excuses for this. “I left the window cracked!” “I only had to run in for a minute!” Those are the two most common. A reporter did a report on this. He lasted fifteen minutes in the car with the windows cracked. Imagine what a dog with a fur coat would feel like. At seventy degrees outside it takes a very short time for a vehicle to hit one hundred four. Calculate up from that.
Cancer: In some Facebook groups, the phrase, “bleep cancer” is seen. Most of it is from people who have lost loved ones, including pets, to the disease. Some pets do survive cancer, however. It depends on what it is and where it is. However, there is always a chance that the cause of the limp is cancer related.
Loss of balance: This, sadly, is often a prelude to a pet’s death. Some pets can bounce back from this, but towards the end, the dog will become somewhat wobbly. It may or may not be characterized as a limp, but it does make getting around hard.
So, what should I do?
Anything that can be done to prevent these problems should be looked at. Some are simple; if the place you’re going doesn’t allow pets, leave Fido at home. Carefully choosing the pet’s food is another area. Many people are choosing to go raw with their dogs. That is a decision that should be made between you and your vet.
However, a supplement program may be ideal. Make sure to choose supplements made from natural ingredients in a lab that passes even human standards. That is the best way to ensure that your pet will thrive, not limp and live a long life.