Vet's Advice: July 2018
Why is my pet limping?
Limping or lameness is a common reason for pets being brought into the practice. I often watch the animal walk around the consulting room and then I will examine the sore leg, starting my examination at the paw. I will also ask owners; How old is the pet? How long has the dog/cat been limping? Did they see the injury happen?
Some common reasons for limping are:
Middle aged and elderly pets often get arthritic joints. Commonly affected joints are elbows, hips and knees but arthritis can happen in any joint. The joint will be stiff and there might be some creaking when flexing the joint. Joint supplements can help care for joints and provide mild pain relief. Often as the pet ages, they will need some anti-inflammatory medicine for a greater level of pain relief. There are also specialists who do animal acupuncture, physiotherapy and hydrotherapy.
If a pet has a sore pad, they may be very reluctant to put their foot to the ground. Thorns and glass can get stuck in the pads and cause a sudden limp. Broken nails and nail bed infections also cause limping.
Cats, in particular, are commonly involved in catfights. The wounds inflicted by teeth or claws can introduce infection. Often I will find a small scab or wound on the sore leg that is the source of the infection.
Sprains and strains
Very active and energetic pets may pull a muscle or get a soft tissue injury. Often they need rest and pain relief to allow the strain to settle. Unfortunately, some dogs can tear the ligaments in their knee and may require surgery to stablise the joint.
I am pleased to say that this is rare. Often the pet will have had an accident or trauma. I will give strong pain relief and take x-rays of the leg to confirm where the break is.