If your dog has been limping lately, it’s important to figure out why. There are many potential causes of limping in dogs, and some of them are more serious than others. As a dog owner, it’s your job to do what it takes to figure out the underlying causes of this symptom in your dog.

In the article below, you’ll find information about some of the most common causes of limping in dogs. Read through this list to see if you can pinpoint the potential problem for your dog. If you have any questions, call Evergreen Veterinary Clinic in San Jose, CA at (408) 238-0690.

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Broken Bone

Broken bones are acute injuries that happen suddenly. They may occur because of a fall, a fight with another animal, or an accident, among other causes. No matter what the cause of the broken bone might be, if your dog is limping for this reason, she will need to go to the emergency vet right away.

Your dog will need surgery to repair and reset the broken bone along with various pain medications and antibiotics to help their body recover from the injury. They will also need to be put in a cast while the bone heals, and they’ll need various pain medications and antibiotics to help their body recover from the injury.


Arthritis is a chronic condition, meaning it continues throughout your dog’s life after diagnosis. This condition causes inflammation and swelling in the joints, which can lead to painful movement, loss of mobility, and limping, among other symptoms.

If your dog is diagnosed with arthritis, your veterinarian will work with you to figure out the best management plan. There is no cure for arthritis, but with the right vet care including physical therapy and medication, your dog can live a long and full life while managing the symptoms of this condition.

Muscle Injury

Muscle injuries can occur from overexertion during play, extra-long walks, lengthy hikes, and even sometimes just from jumping a little bit wrong. These injuries may be as simple as a slight pulled muscle or may be more severe, such as a strain or a torn ligament.

Most muscle injuries heal on their own with time, although they may be very painful in the process. If your dog has a muscle injury, you’ll likely need to keep up with warm or cold compresses to help it heal, and you’ll need to keep your pet from being too active. They may also need some pain medication from the vet.

Nail Injury

Nail injuries occur in the nail beds of a dog’s paw. They can happen to any dog at any time, and they are common in dogs who spend time outdoors often. These injuries can range from a tick between to toes to a laceration that becomes infected and causes an abscess. There are many potential nail bed injuries in dogs.

If your dog’s nail bed is injured, they will probably need antibiotics to keep it from becoming infected or to clear up any existing infection. They may need bandages and pain medication for a short time, but the problem should heal on its own in a little while.

Paw Pad Injury

Paw pad injuries are very similar to nail bed injuries. They can occur on the soft pad of a dog’s paw or, more rarely, on the toe pads. These injuries can include cuts, lacerations, bruises, burns, and more.

Paw pad injuries are treated much like nail bed injuries. Your vet will bandage the injury if necessary and will provide either topical antibiotic ointment or oral antibiotics, depending on the situation. Your dog will need to stay off of the injured foot as much as possible for a few days to allow it to heal on its own.

Hip Dysplasia

Finally, some dogs may limp because they have hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a congenital health problem, meaning dogs are born with it. It usually doesn’t show up fully until dogs reach their adult size, however—around 2 years of age.

This condition causes a dog’s hip socket to form incorrectly. The result is a hip joint that doesn’t move the way it should. Over time, the dog compensates for this problem by standing or walking incorrectly, which may worsen the issue. Many dogs develop a chronic recurring limp because of this.


Some of the issues on this list can resolve on their own with time. However, some of them may require vet care to help your dog get back to her usual healthy self. If you suspect your dog may have one of the more serious problems on this list, be sure to take her to the vet right away to figure out the correct diagnosis.


Your vet may need to do a variety of tests to determine the underlying cause of your dog’s limping. From there, the vet can help you choose the right treatment or management plan for your pet moving forward. Give us a call today at (408) 238-0690.