You notice that your dog is limping. As a caring pet parent, any change in our beloved pet’s behavior can signal the alarm bells. Since we know our pets best, it is up to us to notice when they are acting differently. Limping is a sign that something is amiss with your dog’s normal walking abilities, and can be a side effect of a few different scenarios. The caring team at Union Lake Veterinary Hospital is here to help you figure out why your dog is limping and how to fix it:

Dog is Limping: Common Causes

Dogs limp for many reasons that can range from a simple injury to a chronic issue. These are some of the more common causes we see:

  • A muscle sprain or strain
  • A bruise
  • Tendonitis
  • Myositis 
  • Nerve issues
  • A cut or tear on the foot
  • Problems with the pads or toenails
  • Fractures
  • Tumors
  • Joint diseases


Dysplasia is a condition that can cause stiffness, difficulty moving, and sometimes even a clicking noise. Dogs can get dysplasia in either the elbow or the hip. While certain breeds are more susceptible to hip dysplasia (like great Danes or golden retrievers), other breeds can also suffer from it. If you notice that your dog is limping regularly, you should schedule a veterinary exam to rule out this condition. 

Intervertebral Disc Disease 

Although this disease is typically associated with issues in the back or neck, it can cause inflammation and pain that eventually lead to limping. Intervertebral disc disease occurs in canines when a disc ruptures or becomes herniated. This condition can also decrease your dog’s flexibility, which leaves him susceptible to other injuries. 

Patellar Luxation

This condition occurs when the dog’s kneecap shifts out of place. This can be a result of an injury or a genetic condition. Limping as a result of patellar luxation could cause significant pain for your pup, and requires veterinary attention as soon as possible. 

Ruptured Cranial Cruciate Ligaments

Cranial cruciate ligaments (CCL) help your dog move and jump comfortably. If one ruptures, it can lead to fatigue, pain, and difficulty with everyday movement. There are effective treatment options to repair the CCL, but your dog has the best chance at a full recovery when the condition is caught and treated early. 

Chronic Conditions Vs. Injuries

If your dog has been gradually developing a limp, it is probably due to a chronic or degenerative condition like osteoarthritis. If the limp seems to happen overnight, it is most likely the result of an injury to the paw or foot. Although you should get the dog examined for either type of limp, it can be helpful to give the veterinarian as much detail as possible. The faster they can determine why your dog is limping, the sooner they can find a treatment.

The veterinary team can use a combination of pain medication and relief strategies to target the issue causing your pet to limp. Whether your dog is suffering from an injury or a chronic condition like osteoarthritis, we can find the right pain management option for your pup.

The team at Union Lake Veterinary Hospital is here for you. We offer a full range of veterinary services for pain management including medications, surgery, and advanced options like shockwave (soundwave) therapy, or non-traditional pet acupuncture and chiropractic care. 

After diagnosing your pet’s injury or condition, our surgical team can fix the issue or refer you to a specialty surgeon. For physical therapy or post-surgery recovery, we have a Canine Rehabilitation Center onsite with a full range of physical therapy and therapeutic treatments. To learn more about our services or to schedule an appointment, please call (248) 363-1508.