Why My Dog Is Limping?

Dogs can limp for lots of different reasons. Some of the reasons can be serious and some of the reasons are less serious. If you know why your dog is limping and it is something temporary, such as over-exertion while playing, you can give your dog some over-the-counter medication at home to help with the pain.

Causes of Limping

One of the most common causes of limping or lameness in dogs occurs when your dog hurts himself while playing or running. He may pull something or bruise himself. Or he simply may tire himself out temporarily. If your dog slams into a tree while playing in the yard or plays too hard with another dog and comes up limping, it’s possible that he has some kind of temporary ache or pain, the same way you would if you over-exerted yourself with exercise.

Why My Dog Is Limping?
Why My Dog Is Limping?

My Dog Is Limping: What Medicine Can I Give Him?

If your dog is limping due to over-exertion you can give him a buffered aspirin that is safe for dogs such as Ascription, found in drugstores. Ascription contains Maalox so it doesn’t usually irritate a dog’s stomach and it is safer to give than other aspirin or pain products.

If your dog isn’t better by the next day, you should take him to the vet for a diagnosis.

Other Causes

There are many, many reasons why your dog may limp or become lame. Along with a muscle strain or sprain or a bruise, such as from playing too hard, your dog could have some of the following problems:

  • A bite from an animal
  • A broken bone
  • A pulled muscle
  • A ruptured cruciate ligament
  • A spinal cord injury
  • An injury to a nerve
  • An injury to his paw
  • Arthritis
  • Bone disease, such as cancer
  • HOD (hypertrophic osteodystrophy)
  • Lyme disease, which can affect the joints.
  • Pano (pan osteitis)
  • Tendonitis


In order to find out what is wrong with your dog, your vet will need to perform a physical exam. In some cases the cause may be obvious. In other cases, your vet may need to do some tests and order x-rays. Blood tests may be needed, or your vet may even need to collect some joint fluid. Once a diagnosis is made, you and your vet can determine the treatment.


Treatment for your dog’s lameness will depend on the cause of the problem.

Treatment can range from rest so your dog can heal on his own to surgery to remove bone spurs or repair a ligament. Your dog’s age, general health, and other factors will determine treatment and the prognosis.

Dogs can limp for lots of different reasons. If your dog injures himself playing you can often treat him at home with a buffered aspirin for dogs. However, if he is not better by the next day you should take him to the vet for a diagnosis and treatment.

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