I generally examine at least one limping dog per day, two thirds of which are limping on one of their back legs…what we term rear limb lameness. I find it curious that dog owners seem in most cases, all but convinced that the source of the problem is coming from the hip. I am not sure why this is, perhaps all the press that genetically deformed hips (a condition known as hip dysplasia) has gotten in the past several years, perhaps it is the result of internet speculation, but whatever the reason, the pet owner more often than not finds out by the end of the examination that the hip is not the primary source of the lameness.
It is not to say that a dog with rear limb lameness necessarily has good hips. In fact, many dogs have very poor conformation in their hips, a testament to our ongoing insistence in continuing to purchase puppies from pet stores and back yard breeders that do not know a thing, nor have a care, about responsible, ethical breeding. But while poor hips are not conducive to an optimal quality of life – to be sure bad hips will lead to degenerative joint disease and chronic pain eventually – the most common source of canine rear limb lameness that is severe and acute enough for owners to bring the dog to the vet, is the knees.
In toy breed and small breed dogs, the most common source of pain emanating from the knees is medially luxating patella, a condition where the knee cap continually pops out of place in the direction toward the center, or medial, region of the body. This occurs due to a genetically inherited angular deformity of the rear limb that leads to a chronic pull of the knee cap in the medial direction. Like deformed hips, it too is the result of unethical/irresponsible breeding practices (Those pet stores and back yard breeders are just lovely, aren’t they?). Medially luxating patellas are in most cases very amenable to surgical repair (again, more on this below), but add in the aforementioned additional injuries, and your dog now has what we term the deranged knee, where there are now multiple injuries/abnormalities within the knee joint that require surgical attention.
Well the knee caps are not just where they are for decoration, but they serve a very important purpose. The patellar tendon is a very large tendon that is the convergence of the quadriceps muscles which are capable of placing a lot of force across the knee joint. The knee cap – or patella – beneath it, serves to ease and redistribute the forces exerted across the joint. When it is out of place, not only is it directly painful, but it leaves the knee susceptible to injury, such as tears of the CCL ligament and/or meniscus (more on these below).
For medium and large breed dogs, medially luxating patella occurs occasionally, but it is really not all that common in these guys. Medium and large breed dogs with rear limb lameness most commonly have knee pain from a tear of the CCL ligament and possibly the meniscus as well.
The CCL ligament (cranial cruciate ligament) serves the same function as the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) in people, which is the major stabilizing ligament of the knee joint. Likewise, the meniscus in the dog’s knee serves the same purpose as the meniscus does in people, which is to act as padding between the articulating surfaces of the long bones (the femur and tibia) that comprise the knee joint. Tears of the CCL ligament lead to instability and pain of the knee joint, while tears of the meniscus are additional sources of pain and inflammation within the canine knee. The injury occurs for one or a combination of these 3 reasons:
1.) Many large breed dogs as the result of unethical and irresponsible breeding inherit steep angles of the head of the tibia (the chin bone) that put excessive force on the CCL ligament (Aren’t those pet stores and back yard breeders becoming ever more lovable?) 2.) Obesity is a major contributing factor to many of these injuries, as the increased weight of obese dogs puts additional stress across major stabilizing ligaments like the CCL. 3.) Back luck…sometimes an athletic dog simply plants to change direction just the right way and the ligament just goes, as commonly happens in human athletes.
(I will address treatment for these injuries, as well as medially luxating patella just below…I’ll get there, I promise)
So why did I feel compelled to take the time to write this post? Well, I have seen a rash of these injuries as of late and all too commonly things are far worse than they should be. The pet owner is advised by some un-medically-trained know it all on some pet forum – or otherwise determined through their own “internet research” – that the problem lies in the hip and the best thing he or she can do is put the dog on an over the counter glucosamine product, rather than pay his/her vet to tell him/her what he/she already knows. Only, in the process of the little dog gimping around on a medially luxating patella for a month or longer, the CCL may also rupture, so now we have gone from medially luxating patella surgery to a deranged knee surgery; which translates to more invasiveness for the patient, longer recovery period, and more expense to the owner.
In the case of the CCL tear case, the longer the dog gimps around on the injured knee, the higher the likelihood of concurrently tearing the meniscus, a common injury that occurs with CCL tears. With larger dogs relying on the other limb for support, they also may weaken that knee and predispose it to CCL injury later on, giving the dog and the owner two CCL tears do deal with rather than just one. The grossly unstable knee also leads to other degenerative changes over time, such as the growth of bone spurs, damage to the cartilaginous surfaces of the joint, and thickening of the joint capsule, further complicating our ability to surgically repair the injuries.
As far as diagnosing and treating canine knee injuries, if your “internet research” has brought you here, your research this time around has served you well. Surgical repair and rehabilitation of the canine knee is one of my special interests, for which I have done extensive postdoctoral training in advanced surgical repair of the knee and post-operative rehabilitation. Rather than rewrite all of the information I have for you in this post, please refer to the following articles I wrote on medially luxating patella and cranial cruciate ligament ruptures, respectively:
So the next time your dog shows significant lameness of a rear limb for more than a couple of days, I advise you not to be so quick avoid the vet and just throw glucosamine at the problem as far too many other pet owners do. A proper examination and early diagnosis of a knee problem will not only save you expense in the end, but save your dog a lot of unnecessary suffering. And in the event, the problem is the hip? There are much better things we can do than just throw glucosamine at it…but that is for another day, on another post. 🙂
Dr. Roger Welton is a practicing veterinarian and well regarded media personality throughout a number of subjects and platforms. In addition to being passionate about integrative veterinary medicine for which he is a nationally renowned expert, Dr. Welton was also an accomplished college lacrosse player and remains to this day very involved in the sport. He is president of Maybeck Animal Hospital , runs the successful veterinary/animal health blogs Web-DVM and Dr. Roger’s Holistic Veterinary Care, and fulfills his passion for lacrosse through his lacrosse and sport blog, The Creator’s Game.
I am sure now my dog needs surgery. Its been a year with glucosaminunfortunately treatment with off and on improvment. Now both back legs are limping. I need better vet to take her to any suggestions. We live in Oakhurst Calif. Near Fresno
I am pleased that my article helped to put thing into perspective for you. While it is not likely the only answer, I would advise that you stay with joint chews for the duration, whether ends up having surgery or not. They are good for any dog 5 years of age or older, or dogs of any age with a history of orthopedic disease. Bear in mind that these products are not FDA regulated, so their integrity and label claims do not have to be true. Thus, you should opt for chews that are veterinary grade and have a reputation to protect, as well as clinical data that proves their efficacy. Also, glucosamine is not the only natural joint product out there, as there is also chondroitin, MSM, and essential fatty acids. I favor products that have all of these. Please take a look at this holistic joint chew that satisfies these criteria: http://www.drrogerholisticvet.com/
As far as recommendations for an orthopedic work-up, I am not aware of any specific doctor in your area, as I am based in Florida. Please feel free to post back if I may be of any assistance.
I live in FL, my little dog has been limping can’t put weight on hind leg. Need to see a vet that can operate as my vet doesn’t do this kind of surgery, I’ve been told it cost 3000. I can’t even replace my tooth that just fell out and now I need to come up with 3000. Just don’t have it. Hate to see her limping around she used to love to run and now, she can’t. Any suggestions?
I have been massaging my dogs rear leg with horse liniment, Good for horses, dogs and people. Got it on line. I use a little heat after. I give him 1/2 baby aspirin a day. Check with your vet on this. I also ice him. He does use the leg but limps a little. You can also buy a dog brace on Amazon There are very expensive ones but on Amazon there are braces that are not expensive. I used that just to help him get strength. Good Luck,
Dr Roger, we have a 16 mos Labrador female, four months history of right hind leg lameness. X-rays revealed no abnormalities, popping when knee is articulated, negative drawer, vet prescribed crate rest, rimadyl and tramadol. Two months follow up today, right rear is still painful, bears weight but guards that leg. Vet recommends ortho specialist. Any ideas?!
My olde english all of a sudden showed this after we tried to breed her (sorry)…that was in August…now she’s limping on the same Leg again out of nowhere. If she Laus on it for an extended period of time it’s worder but if she walks around and stretches it out she’s fine. It’s been a few days though and she’s still doing this. Should I take her to the vet and get her looked at? This is the longest it’s lasted and we’re worried.
Hey people my dog evi her back legs well cant walk she was fine yesterday what do u think it is
I really need help because I scared I might lose her place help
Go see a vet! That is the only way to know.
I have a 6 year old yellow lab who has been healthy and active for her entirety. Last week while jumping into a SUV, she winced, jumped down, held her right back leg up for a few moments and within 5-10 minutes she was up and running. She has always been a spring board! A few days later she was eagerly playing and wrestling with a pup, and same thing happened, and after a few minutes, she’s fine. I rested her for several days, gave her some rimadyl, and acted fine for several days with some aggressive puppy play with a friend. Jumping and having fun. Then this morning, she jumps on our bed, and once again, winces, holds her right back leg up for a moment or two, and then acts fine…Thoughts? She has no trouble running, playing, etc in between these random events.
Stephanie- Our dog has the same problem. Did you find any answers? Thank you.
My very athletic boxer-pitt has the same problem. She is extremely active and joyful outside but then goes all lame in the house. HELP!
my 1 1/2 year old newfoundland has the same issue! has anyone gotten any answers?
2 year old Pitbull rotter mix from Houston with same exact condition anyone heard anything?
Our 3.5 year old yellow lab has just had a few bouts of the same exact thing: whining pain, seemingly out of nowhere, but then after a few minutes, fine once again and trotting around with no limp. Please post back how things worked out for you. Plan to bring him to Vet just to be safe.
My westie has the same thing. He is 8 yrs old.
My 3 year lab has the same problem. I was on here hoping to find an answer. Looks like it’s more common than I realized. It’s just so strange for him to seem like his leg hurts but then then next minute it’s fine. We are baffled! Vet said to rest him and come in for xrays if it’s not better in a week.
My 8 month chocolate lab is doing exactly the same thing? ?
My 11yr old shih tzu has had a spate of back and leg problems in the last 6 months. X-rays show he has degenerative disc disease L2-3-4 narrowing. He was on bed rest for 4-6 months…just walking to the outside for 1s&2s… now he has lost muscle tone in his hind legs and occasionally limps on left hind leg. He slips on the tiles in the house and will stumble up a small step (2-3″). He doesn’t yelp but he is moody which for him means pain. I have ordered some power paws to help with traction and put down more rugs for him to walk on. But the lack of exercise is also affecting his weight….. its a vicious circle. do you recommend investigating further for his knees. He has just been through so much this year (surgery to remove urate stones and hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, stomach troubles from the pain meds and suspected cognitive dysfunction) I hate to have him sedated unnecessarily for X-rays or more surgery…. again the vicious circle.
Sorry to hear about your boy’s problems. In this case, it does sounds like the disk problems are the driving force for you boys’s problems…and intervertebral disk disease is very common in Shih Tzus. I would advise a combination of acupuncture and therapy laser for the the diseases disks. I have seen it help dramatically in many of these types of cases, but one of the best success degenerative disk disease cases I can recall was a Shih Tzu was has disease so badly, he was nearly paralytic. If your current vet does not have these modalities, I would find one that does. Best of luck to you, and thank you for taking the time to read my blog and comment!
I am a new pet owner, with a dog recenlty adopted from the shleter.I want to know, do you pay for his treatment out of pocket, it seems to get very expensive.
This article is very helpful, but it presumes there are vets out there that are capable of providing a diagnosis. My dog has suffered from a rear hind leg limp for a few months now. After no less than six trips to the vet, including an orthopedic specialist, I have no conclusive diagnosis. Two blood tests, two x-rays, drawer tests, one drawer test under anesthesia and still no answers. While you may discount “internet research”, sometimes it is the only way for a patient’s advocate to be informed to ask the right questions because quite honestly, I don’t think all vets (or even most vets) have the capability to provide a diagnosis.
Thank you for the thoughtful commentary. To be clear, I do not discount online research and information, but the source must be considered and scrutinized by the researcher. By the character of your post, I presume that would not not put blind faith in any online source, but consider the source, as well as look at the information in the context of your veterinarian’s observations and your pet’s clinical presentation/history. Regarding diagnosis, I agree that not all veterinarians are created equal, and some may not be the best diagnosticians, however, diagnoses can be challenging with patients that cannot speak to articulate how they are feeling, and being limited in diagnostic modalities in comparison to human medicine. For example, while MRIs are done occasionally for certain conditions and with pet owners that can afford to pay out of pocket for them (or have pet insurance to cover them), they are not done routinely. Whereas a human patient where there is suspicion for ACL or meniscal tear would have an MRI with contrast injected into the joint, the veterinarian is most commonly left with x-rays, physical examination and history only (the cost of an MRI is almost as much as the surgery to repair a damaged knee). However, I agree that blind faith in a veterinarian or any physician for that matter, is a mistake. In any field of medicine, whether human or veterinary, the patient must be one’s own advocate and be prepared to ask questions, even suggest differential diagnoses or diagnostic to arrive at an answer. I would question any veterinarian that would not take the time to listen to a client and least take the time to explain why he/she may disagree. Thanks again for taking the time to contribute.
I am a human MD and would like to clarify the statement “Whereas a human patient where there is suspicion for ACL or meniscal tear would have an MRI with contrast injected into the joint…” If humans are suspected of a significant knee injury, plain MRIs without Gadolinium contrast is the diagnostic imaging of choice to visualization of soft tissues of the knee (cartilage, ligaments.) MRI with contrast are indicated in specialized situations.
I had a similar experience with a 12 month old boxer. It took 12 more months of badgering the vet practice until she was referred to a vet hospital and a TPLO was performed. Now she’s limping on the other back leg!
Insurance premia going through the roof and we’re back to square one. Any shenanigans and I’m changing my vet.
I am a new dog owner and my pit I just bought from the shelter seems to be limping and I afraid it will be her hip. I notice you mention Insurance,is this something you purchase to assist with the cost, I want to keep her but don’t know if I can afford her
Our 4 year old English Lab has had both of her back legs repaired from torn ligaments. One of her knees started popping every time she would walk. Our vet said that it sounded like a meniscus issue and that sometimes they resolve themselves. About 2 months ago the popping stopped. Suddenly about 5 days ago she will not walk on that leg at all. Took her to the vet yesterday and he gave her a shot in the knee joint to help with inflammation. How long does it take for these shots to help and what are your thoughts?
You need to work on your bedside manner. Perhaps if “properly bred” dogs weren’t so expensive there would be no need for back yard breeders. Perhaps if vet bills weren’t so stinking high more people could afford to take their dogs to a vet at the first sign of a problem. Perhaps you could think of it as “job security” instead?
Backyard breeders and pet store (ie puppy mills) are not any cheaper than properly bred dogs. I have no suspicion that the Dr is implying that show grade pure breds are the only dogs that people should have.
I have 2 pure breds, 1 weimeraner (whose recent fall down our stairs has brought me here), and 1 doberman. I love the weim breed immensely and when it came time to get a new weim puppy I would up having to drive about 7 hours away in order to find a breeder that was responsible in there breeding, same with my dobie. Now there were otheres that were closer that also bred responsibly but those were show quality breeds. I did not want that. I wanted a pup that had specific traits (The reason for looking for a specific breed), but was intended to be a pet i.e. part of the family. Both of my pups were purchased cheaper than any pet store would even think about selling a pure bred for.
When I talk to a breeder one of the first things I want to know is to what degree of inbreeding is there. Ideally it is 0, although unless they seek stud services outside of there own stock this is not going to happen. Simple reality of the matter. Since I recognize that there will be some familial inbreeding, I will not purchase a dog from a breeder that does not maintain at least 3 generations of separation between the parents. Since the dogs are pure breds and therefore AKC registered, there is documented proof available for inspection on the pups lineage, review it, vice taking the breeders word on it.
Lastly the Dr.s bedside manner is not out of line here, he merely points out that much of the problems with pure breds is related to puppy mills (which has been well documented).
Wow, you speak as if he should put himself in your shoes…Well try to put yourself in his and see where he is coming from, I’m sure he has seen so many different problems from what he calls back yard breeders. And there is such thing as insurance for your animals and care credit.
Thank you so much for this informational article. I actually read it because our vet today diagnosed our little “puppy mill” rescue this this knee problem. He only started limping 36 hours ago, but this is the 5th time in his short 2 years of life. It is heartbreaking to watch him limp around and he is only 2. They put him on a steroid that I hope will help soon. I hope more people reading your article will actually spend the small amount of money for a correct diagnosis.
So glad you found it helpful! Your feedback and taking the time to comment is much appreciated. It is always troubling when such a young dog is having chronic orthopedic disease, but it sounds like your rescue dog has a proactive pet parent with the dedication to give him his best chance for successful management. One additional piece of advice for you: at this young age, I would consider starting some holistic management strategies for the long term. Please visit this link at my holistic veterinary care site for some holistic tips:
Good luck! Thanks again for the feedback!
My 8-year-old Shetland Sheepdog has been limping on and off for about four months (left front leg). He was diagnosed with Lyme disease around October and he took doxycycline for a month. The limp got better and now it’s back. It seems to be worse after he’s lying down and then gets up. It also gets worse after walking a few blocks. The vet did an X-ray and could not draw any conclusions. He recommended an orthopedic specialist but I’d rather avoid that if at all possible. My dog is energetic and happy and has never had any health problems before. Thanks for your input!
I took the liberty of editing out your last name, as this is a public forum. I dealt with a lot of Lyme Disease when I practiced in Long Island NY, a hot bed of the disease. While Lyme should always be considered in cases of lameness with no apparent cause, lameness as the result of Lyme typically is not confined to one limb. More commonly, if Lyme causes muscle and joint pain, we see general stiffness or what we term shifting lameness, that is, lameness observed in multiple limbs at different times. Lyme disease also commonly presents with very high fever, as well as poor appetite or not eating altogether. Of course, not all dogs “read the textbook” so to speak, so your veterinarian was wise to test for Lyme Disease.
On the other hand, the mode of testing is very important. An antibody test would come up positive if there has been exposure to Lyme disease, but exposure does not necessarily translate to active infection. Also, past vaccination for Lyme may also lead to a false positive Lyme antibody test. Thus, I would ask you veterinarian what mode of testing was done to confirm Lyme Disease. The most accurate blood testing for Lyme are PCR or Western Blot. Many veterinarians will rely on the antibody test when possible because it is far less expensive and saves the client money.
Nonetheless, let us say hypothetically that your dog actually had Lyme Disease, 4 weeks of doxycycline should be cleared the disease. However, there can be particularly tough cases where the bacteria can hid in lymph nodes and be difficult to clear, so I have treated some cases where complete clearance is suspect for an additional 2 weeks just to to be thorough. However, we also must consider the possibility that Lyme was not the cause of lameness at all. Again, it may be a false positive antibody test, or, he had both soft tissue inflammation of the left front limb and a concurrent bonafide Lyme infection. The explanation for these scenarios as to why your dog would be free of lameness while on doxycycline, but lame again while off, is because, in additionbeing an effective antibiotic doxycycline has significant anti-inflammatory properties.
In light of all of this, I would consider the consultation with the orthopedic specialist. Many general practitioners veterinarians take a special interest in orthopedics, where they have the ability to isolate the source of lameness, not just through limb manipulation and x-rays, but also in careful observation of the way they walk, the type of limping, and even the way they sit. Your veterinarian may not necessarily be an orthopedically minded practitioner, or, your dog’s case may be that confounding that it would baffle any general practitioner. Armed with just the x-rays your veterinarian took and physical examination, a specialist may at least be able to localize the lameness. Localizing the lameness will enable you to at least possibly pursue alternative measures such as therapy laser and acupuncture. For more on alternative treatments, please visit this link at my holistic veterinary website:
Given that your dog is a Sheltie and no abnormalities were seen on the x-rays, if I had to venture a guess, I would lean toward chronic soft tissue inflammation of the shoulder. 60% – 70% of a dog’s weight is on the front end. For more front heavy dogs like Shelties, this may be even more so.
Hope this helps! Good luck!
My 8 year old springer spaniel has been limping on her left back leg for nearly a week now and walks on three legs sometimes,
I took her to the vet but he said that he’d have to do X-rays but Im too eager to wait and she also has 2 hard small lumps one on her left front shoulder and one on her hind right leg they don’t put her in any pain but the vet said they were skin lupms not fatty lumps like I thought and that the skin lumps are something more to worry about.
Thanks for letting me write to you.
Thank you so much for this informative article! My 4yo female German Shepard was playing fetch with the children yesterday afternoon and came in favoring her left rear leg. Too late for her vet, I’ve been keeping her quiet and watching her. So I’m up anxiously awaiting 7 am when they turn the phones on as she is markedly worse- having significant trouble getting up and down the stairs, into bed, and going to the bathroom. Your article solidified the fact that i need to promptly bring her to her vet first thing tomorrow. I couldn’t imagine letting her suffer while I throw various hip/ joint supplements at her!! How cruel! Thank you for sharing!
Hello my 2.5 year old Am Staff has been diagnosed with partial tears of the ccl bilaterally. My local vet doesn’t operate for this and I would have to take her to a specialist 2 hours away. The rate is $4,000 per leg. I do not have pet insurance. She tore the ccls by running and turning at the same time. I have started conservative management and scheduled an appointment with a ortho surgeon however Im not sure the operation fits into my budget. I have started giving GlycanAid HA Factor, Flexerna, Rimadyl (which I only give now after almost two weeks occasionally if she limps more.) I also started Adequan injections yesterday. We are doing massage cold and now moist warm therapy treatment and of course activity/jumping restriction. I have read plenty of success stories of dogs recovering from partial tears, I just find myself constantly questioning my decision to try conservative management. I realize every dog is different and I fear six months of CM will drive my dog crazy. I am considering exploring one of you natural stress/anxiety remedies as well. What are your thoughts on Yucca as a alternative to Rimadyl? And what is your take on conservative management given the treatment I am doing?
Dear Doc, my spitz doggy who is approximately 8.5 years old is having some issues of limping during last 6 months ..initially it was like we humans do when we experience a sudden cramp and then after a few seconds or a minute it subsides..we consulted the vet. doc at that time & he said that he might have hurt himself while playing or something and told to make him take rest for 2 to 3 days and observe.. thankfully he was okay by the next day..so the doc didn’t prescribed any medicine at that time..but now over the last 1.5 months I noticed him limping quite a few times..not something very abruptly but its evident that at times he is feeling pain to place his paws on ground..its not happening in a specific leg..sometimes its the rear while sometimes its the front legs..at times when he is getting up from the sitting or lying position he seems to struggle more…no signs of abnormality in any other behavioural activities..he is running fine, going up & down the stairs with ease..recently my doc prescribed him Mega-Flex..its one and half bottle he consumed over last 10 days each bottle containing 100 gms…there is some slight improvement but not really that much..so what do you suggest me to do from here on…should I wait and observe the happenings for a few more days..would like to mention that a few times not always when he limps I saw him peeing in drops without using their normal inherent posture…I am living in an area where veterinary docs & facilities are not that frequently available…he is really really very dear to me…please help me & him with your wisdom ..
HI. My 11 year old poodle has been limping on his back leg as well but does not seem in pain. The dr said he had a degenerative knee issue that pops in and out of place. Is surgery the only option? He’s been limping on and off for a month now…but it does seem to get better when he rests alot…but then when i take him on the usual walks, he limps again for days. I hate to put him under this late in life. Is there ANYTHING ELSE you can recommend? Thank you for your time.
Hi Dr. Roger,
My pup will be two next month and he has been limping for a couple days now and getting progressively worse. I opted to wait on going to the vet only because I thought the limping was from him being confined to his kennel for about 5 hours a day for the past week (assuming the limping was from cramped muscles). About a year or so ago he had surgery on his spine to remove a rather large mass that was causing his leg function to go out. After the surgery he was back to normal with the exception of a longer recovery period and a not so attractive scar. The mass came back as benign, but now he is limping again. I have put pressure on his leg and stretched it out trying to find the source of the pain but he doesn’t do anything except lick at my hand no matter where I put pressure. Today I noticed that the toe nails of the affected leg have red horizontal lines. Not sure if that has anything to do with his limping but I was hoping to get some feed back from you to take with me when I visit the local vet. Thank you for posting this article, it has tremendously eased my own peace of mind considering he is only two years old and very active until just recently. Hope to find a response from you soon, thank again!
My 10 year old teacup yorkie developed a limp 3 months ago. I’ve taken her to the vet and he indeed says it’s her knee. She can barely stand up now and he doesn’t recommend surgery because of her age. She also suffers from severe bloating due to canine lymphangiectasia which is also a factor in no surgery. Is there anything I can do or give her to help her walk a little more stable?
We took our 18-month old Olde English Bulldogge to the dog park tonight. Trip there was normal. Time there was normal…a lot of running around but nothing out of the ordinary. He walked back to the car fine, rode home fine, and was fine at home. He was laying down for a while and then got up to jump up in a chair and he was limping. He’s been that way for a couple hours now. What would you recommend?
I have a 12-year old Lab mix who had a small limp which our vet theorized was a small CDL tear. We have been resting her for three weeks & she seemed better. Tonight after a walk she took off running across the yard, yelped & started limping again worse than the first time. My question – how serious is surgery on an older dog? I have known 90 year old humans who died from hip replacements. Is surgery an option for a large senior dog?
My 6 month old rescue puppy was playing and tried to make a jump too high for his short little legs. I didn’t see exactly what happened, but he cried and crawled into my lap for cuddles. He now won’t put any pressure on his back leg. What could it be?
I have an appointment with the Vet today. My Shih-Tzu Bichon mix, 8 yrs old has in the past had back issues or so the vet had told me. He ordered bed rest, anti-inflammatory, pain, meds which worked and when it would flare up again perhaps several months later we would repeat the process. The other day he started whimpering, would come up the steps and assumed the same issue was happening again with his back. However, Cooper is a feisty, barky, jump up on the couch and bark at the leaves, kind of dog. No one can come through the front door without Copper greeting them annoyingly! The last few days, he won’t eat, won’t drink. I carry him outside to do his business and he usually won’t have to go, No accidents in the house, either and he just stays in his little bed. The few times he would walk, I do see him favor his left rear leg. What concerns me more is the fact that he is just a different dog and of course with him not eating or drinking I made the appointment. I am worried my vet will assume it is his back again. So I am not even sure if a leg xray would be in order. Not other testing was done on him other than a physical. Any suggestions and thank-you in advance..
my 12 year old jack has hurt her back leg 2weeks ago-I have seen the vet he gave her metacam and to rest for 2weeks-torn tendans
not drinking very much-im 73 on a pension is there other treatment like straping it would help im very worried about her as she is my world
thank you janet
My husky just had puppies 3 days ago and is not putting weight on her left back leg. She doesn’t want to walk on it at all and she will not climb the stairs. Is this normal for a momma dog after she has puppies???
Hi, I have a shetland sheepdog who is just over two years. She had an on again off again limp from about 6 months. Just she would limp for a few steps when at a trotting pace then would be fine. This would happen every couple of weeks. Only at a trot, never when walking or running just in between. It seemed to wear off as she got older, I noticed it less and less. I was doing agility with her, very much novice so I wasn’t pushing her massively but we were running every day so her fitness was increasing. A few months ago she started limping at anything over a walk but she had been playing with my mum’s 5 month old pup who can be a bit rough so I just rested her for a week and she seemed better. The few weeks before this I hadn’t been able to run so much with her so her fitness was lower and lower still after the rest. I noticed the few little limps at trotting more and more often though so I brought her to the vet. After examining the dog, the vet was unsure but thought it was a very mild luxating patella due to how I described the issue. She gave me some anti inflammatories and said that increased fitness should fix the issue but if it doesn’t come back for an xray. I went back and we got an xray of her legs and back just in case and her bones are perfect. The vet who reviewed the xray (who would specialize more in that area) said it’s likely to be either a lack of lubrication in her joints or muscular give her a week off running and give her some tablets to lubricate the joints and hopefully that will help. He said the next step would be an mri which is very expensive and she doesn’t appear to be in any pain so it wouldn’t be worth it. Considering I’ve just been made redundant I can’t really argue that, I can barely afford the xrays. The only thing is, she’s gotten worse and worse. Just before I got let go I bought a puppy so they have been out playing constantly which has obviously aggravated the issue. I just don’t even know what to ask the vet to do or what it could be. She’s so happy playing with the pup and I’m going to have to separate them, I’m scared of going running with her in case it gets worse and I haven’t done any agility in months. All the things she enjoyed and we enjoyed doing together have been removed and I just feel awful.
I just don’t know what to do anymore. All I can think of is, she stresses really easily, she high strung and other dogs make her nervous. When at the vet, she was so stressed the vet could barely make anything out as her muscles were so tense. Could she be running on tense muscles (like us training without an adequate warm up) and giving herself minor injuries often and this time it was just worse and playing with the pup isn’t allowing her to heal? Any suggestions I could go to the vet with would be appreciated
Hi Dr. Roger! I was glad to find your website rather quickly after starting my search. My 12 year old miniature poodle who is grossly overweight and has been her entire life it seems (even though I feed her the same amount as the rest of them) has been limping on her left back leg. I took her to the vet and he diagnosed her with back issues even though he did not do any x-rays and gave her a shot with no Rx to take home. I had my Jack Russell there just a few weeks ago with back pain so I gave her the same medicine regimen he was Rx’d to see if there would be any improvement for I was not convinced it was coming from her back. And of course she did not improve. I took her back and the other Dr. said she thought it was her CCL and thought we could treat it medically. She has been on pain medicine and an arthritic medicine maybe, I cannot read the label since the medication printed over other printing on the label but it starts with Meta… But she is not getting any better! We discussed surgery for the CCL but my concern is the subluxing patella and she will have surgery for a partially torn CCL and still not be any better. I do not want to be one of those internet researchers that goes to the doctor and acts like they know more than the educated person sitting across from them; But I also do not want to be one of those patients who keeps shucking out money for the same problem as we play process of elimination because no one is really sure what is going on. I can see you get a lot of posts on here and I know how time consuming it would be to respond each and every one so I hope that you may find time to send me a quick response. Thank you from Anniston, AL…
My one year old bulldog was just diagnosed with two deformed back knees and hip dysplasia- they want $3500 a knee and $4000 a hip. The surgeon called him a jalopy . he is now oanti inflammatory and pain medicine/ kept in kitchen on bed rest- is better but is not the happy jumping around dog that he was. Last night our 10 year old poodle was lame on her back leg and we went back to the animal hospital with her – knee popping out was the cause and they wanted $4,000 – we left with pain meds and bed rest. My devastating options are to eventually put them both down – there’s no was I could afford the surgery cost and they even said it was not 85% success rate! Both are from puppy stores – puppy mills –
Stupidly bought that cute little puppy in the window
My dog has a very confusing limp. She is now almost six years old, and it began about three years ago. She seems to overexert herself and develop a very pronounced limp (right rear leg), which gets better in a few days with leash rest. She is very stiff when she first gets up, but the limp completely vanishes when I take her on a long leash walk. After a few days of leash-only walks, she is fine. She’ll continue to be fine for a few months, then suddenly she’ll begin to limp again, usually after she runs constantly for 10 minutes or more. We’ll rest her again, and she’ll seem to recover again. She has a lipoma behind the knee, which may or may not be related. We’ve had it tested several times and it’s just a lipoma. It developed about a year ago, so the limp was present before the lipoma. She is a coonhound mix, about 65 pounds. We got her from a rescue when she was a year old, so her early life (including nutrition) was not so good as she was found starving in the woods. She is a very active dog that gets a little crazy sometimes when chasing squirrels in the yard and barking at people walking by the fence. She isn’t overweight. The vet always says she looks great and has great hips. She seems to want to stretch the rear leg as straight as possible during these limping episodes. She stands with three legs in a normal position, and the injured leg is positioned slightly behind her. She doesn’t pick it up when she’s having trouble with it. She just limps when she walks. She’s still able to jump up on the sofa, even when she’s lame. The fact that it goes away for up to six months at a time makes me think it is not serious, but I am not sure. She walks at least a mile and a half every day, and she has about an hour of free off-lead time in the backyard (when she is not limping), so she gets lots of exercise. Any insight would be greatly appreciated!
My 5 year old boxer mimics this with the exception of the lipoma. We have been to several vets, ortho and now have an appointment with a neurologist. Did you ever get a diagnosis?
Hi there, I have an 8 year old chocolate lab who ran across the yard yesterday to see her friends and in mid run she lifted her back right leg , it was like she stepped on something sharp … We checked her paw and nothing was there, then we checked her leg, knee, and hip pressing firmly and straightening everything out and we got no reaction from her … This morning she still won’t put that leg down and when we straighten it out she looks back at us or licks our hand 🙁 any advice
We have the exact same issue with our 6 almost I year old Golden..she ran out in back field..yelped and limped back…the limo goes off and on ..esp when she gets up..I love my dog and don’t want to see her like this..we too have put pressure and twisted with no response from her.
We have a 3 year old Schnauzer jack russel mutt. He is 22 pounds and is very lean and extremely athletic. He has had slight limps occasionally on his front legs which go away within a day or two. Today i picked him up and he is picking up his back left leg. He spends alot of time on my parents acre with his litter mate and they absolutely fly around that place. He let’s me look at it and touch it with no whining or growling. Seems like around the knee is tight but everything feels in place. He has also always been very bouncy and springy in his rear end. He almost gallops at times…and I’m reading that this could be a possible sign of the patella shifting improperly. We are going to wait a couple days and have him lay low but if the problem continues what do u recommend? And should i be concerned with the back end sequenctial bouncing as well?
I had a Rotti/shepherd had knee surgery but got gross infection from the pin. Had to be put down. Was never told this surgery had a bad success track record . He died a horrible death as the vet who did the surgery misdiagnosed cancer(I had neighbour physician tell me it was infected as it was spurting puss through the pours of his skin).. I wound up scrambling to find a vet who could be available to euthanize him. Made for a crappy Christmas and my original incompetent vet systematically guilted me into maxing out my credit card . I will euthanize any future animals rather than endure that ever again. No owner and pet should ever be hoodwinked into that scenario.
My 5 month old pit bull has been limping for two days. He only puts weight on his back leg when he has to (i.e. when he has to poop). He has shown no signs of pain and behavior is normal otherwise. We do not want to rush to the vet, but how long is too long to wait before seeking a professional opinion?
Thank you very much. My one year old lab/border collie has been having this problem on/off for a few months with most instances resolving within 2 minutes. Tonight it lasted 15 minutes until I read this post. I am a RN so I palpated her knee and immediately it popped into place without almost no effort on my part. My husband thought she probably had a hip problem because like you said, everyone hears so much about it. Thank you again for this very informative post.
I have a pit-mix, large about 70lbs. He’s young only about 10th to a year, he was a rescue I found at work approx 6 mths ago so no idea of his life before other than he was emacaciated and full of ticks. 2 days ago he was sleeping on the couch in the morning and when he got up to go out he was limping on his rear leg. He had been fine earlier it was sudden and quite severe. It’s not any better and he continues to not bear much weight on it, holds it up when just standing and seems to walk with it at and outward angle. So confused as to the sudden onset. Was thinking maybe a pinched nerve? As a side note he has been under a vets care for an eye issue in just one of his eyes that the Doctor admits to having no idea what it is at this point.
My 6-1/2 year old Isabella, a cockapoo/bichon, just had 3 stones removed from her bladder yesterday and while under, they took x-rays of her legs/knees because she’s been limping and not always putting weight on her left foot. The vet had already said that she has luxating patella in both knees. They did not see any tears but think she may have CCL by doing a comparison of the two knees. I did see the x-rays and they explained what I was seeing. Do I go to a specialist for another opinion or just go by what they think it is and have her go through survey? Thanks for your advise.
Hello Dr. Roger, I have a two year old husky/bull terrier mix that I’ve been noticing his rear right leg has a limp. It will get better when he rests it, but then when he plays or runs, he is limping again. He is acting his normal self. I plan on taking him in, but is there other symptoms I should be looking for.
I have 12 1/2 year female lab. She was limping really bad for 2 days over a year ago. I took her to the vet. And you are correct, I thought hip, he thought hip initially, after exam and exray diagnosed it as knee, needs replacement. I cant afford that.
He gave her previcox, adequin??? Injections, and food with glucosamine and omega acids, and to keep her calm and not let her exert herself.
I put a leash on her and walked her in our back yard to go potty and walk slowly for a couple of weeks. She improved alot.
She has always loved to run.
Even is she is 20 ft away, she loved to run to me.
She started keeping that leg very straight a few months ago.
This week the other knee must be gone too. Shes walking with both of them straight.
She slips on the wood floor and falls alot now.
Every time she walks.
I am writing to ask your opinion, I am disabled and have limited!!!! income.
I had a big tumor removed from her side 2 yrs ago, benign,
Treatment for knee, injections etc,
4 days stay at vet for constipation last fall,
All this since Aug 2013.
I wish i could have had her knee replaced over a yr ago.
Now, if she needs both, i cant pay $8000.00.
When do you know they are suffering too much?
She is a very strong dog,
I tease her, that she would follow me off a cliff, she loves me, and will sleep on the wood floor until i go to bed, then she gets on her mattress.
Sorry, so long.
But am I bad not to find the money to have her knees replaced, she is almost 13. I need a hip replacement and dont have insurance. We are both in bad shape. lol
I cant say what i want to ask, what is your advice on a dog of this age?
My girl Abby has limping in her back right leg…she is a 6 yr old black lab. She runs and plays just fine but walks with a limp. This came on as soon as it started becoming colder. Is it the weather or something else? I’m worried about my poor girl:(
My six year old basset hound mix does not always limp. She only does when she has been lying down for a long period of time but it is always the same leg. Sometimes when she stretches it straight back it helps but most of the time she keeps limping for a period of time before being able to walk normally. I would normally just discount this to stiffness except that she will also start limping during a long walk. My parents are very reluctant to take her to the vet due to the expenses but I hate seeing my puppy in pain. I was wondering if her short legs could be the cause and if there is any way I could minimize any further damage if it anything other than age. When I took her to the vet last time, I was merely told that she needed to lose weight but that hasn’t helped. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
You are a condescending a$$hole.
I have a 12 month old choc lab mix she was playing with the cat the other day and the cat knocked stuff off the counter. I believe it scared my puppy because she came in crying and shaking I took her to the vet and was told that her tendons over her knees move. Well now she will walk a little but then lift one hind leg up and then the other gets tired and she falls. What can I do for her? The vet gave me an antiinflamitory pill but that’s it.
Can’t afford 3000 for surgery on my little Lucy. Now I know why shelters are filled with dogs. Vet bills are high and people can’t afford to give pets the proper care.
My dog has been limping for 4-5 months on her right back leg. I didn’t know it was serious until she started to twist her leg while walking. I took her to the vet, and he said that we need to do the x-rays(I’m not sure if I’m translating this correctly), but he thinks it’s the knee. I’m a student, and currently I need 1-2 weeks to get the money for the x-ray, and later I don’t know how long will it take me to get the money for the surgery, since I have to save up on my own. I just need the info, how long can my dog keep going like this? Today she started to limp on the left leg, I don’t know if it’s also the knee, I will take her to the vet tomorow. She doesn’t show any signs of pain.
Hopefully my personal experience can be of help to someone.
Last year my 70 lb 11 year old mutt (then 10 years old) tore her CCL after a long walk in the snow. I noticed that she started limping in one of her hind legs and when it seemed to only get worse I brought her to the vet straight away. Once she gave us the diagnose we were given all the treatment options and long story short we opted out of surgery and went for the conservative treatment. By completely restricting all of her activity for 8 weeks, we were able to see improvements by week 6. I didn’t want to put her through a long, painful surgery. Our vet also recommended using a dog knee brace to stabilize her knee while it was repairing itself. I found this knee brace online from a site called Ortocanis: http://www.ortocanis.com/en/technical-helps-for-dogs/90-knee-brace.html
A year later and she’s better than ever. I think it’s important that people are aware that surgery isn’t always the first and best treatment option in many cases…
Zoe is young and very active but has a back limp today will see if it persists then take her to the vet
In our case a back leg limp was indeed arthritis in the knee. I have a mid sized husky and we lead a very active lifestyle (I take him out scootering a couple times a week, which is like mushing but with a scooter instead of a sled and the scooter has breaks). With the diagnosis we’ve definitely had to slow our rhythm, however we’ve been managing it quite well so far. I give her some supplements that are good for promoting joint health, and he’s been using an Ortocanis dog knee brace on the affected leg. The brace basically increases circulation in the area, keeping it warm, reduces pain and stabilizes the leg. I’ll be closely monitoring his progression and trying to control that it doesn’t worsen, but for now his activity and happiness seems to be pretty much where it was pre-diagnosis.
For anyone interested: http://www.ortocanis.com/en/technical-helps-for-dogs/90-knee-brace.html
We have a young doberman(3 years old) and we have had back leg lameness for the second time in 2 years.
The very first time it happened we took him to the vet did all the tests and nothing came back so we thought maybe its just a bad knee sprain. Spent some more money and went to a specialist, who checked him over again and said it was a slight knee strain.
Vet recommended that we keep him on a leash and minimize activity also add hills to the walk to build muscle. Finally, she told us to drop some weight because his hips were showing signs of early arthritis and eventual hip problems.
Reason why I am writing on here is to give some people hope. Surgery is never the last resort, you have to try a couple of weeks with minimized activity using controlled walks.
After the 1st strain we did that and in a matter of weeks he was back to normal. I ve read a lot of research on knee issues in dogs and how fast some vets want you to shell out a couple thousand dollars to fix it. Not knowing that the other knee will quickly follow. I dont know about most of you but we dont have 10,000 laying around for surgeries.
Here is the website that helped us bring our boy back to normal. Its been over 1.5 years since we had an issue but the other week he strained it again rough housing with his buddies.
We once again went to the vet to make sure it wasnt a tear and we are back on dealing with a sprain. Hope this helps someone out there.
Website is amazing check it below…..
Thank you for the wonderful article. It was very enlightening. My poor 12 year old Bichon Frise hurt herself on the 10th of this month going upstairs to our bedroom area. I didn’t see her fall, so I’m not sure exactly what happened. All I hear was a thump and then saw her limping towards me. After a few days of her limping very badly on her left rear leg (wouldn’t even touch it to the ground), I finally took her to our local Vet. She said it was definately muscular and put her on prednisose for roughly a week and a half, gave me some pain medication, and now that the prednisone is completely finished, she is STILL limping and completely favoring that back leg. I need to find another Vet to take her to. At this point, I really don’t believe it’s muscular. I’m not sure if we need to have Xrays done or an MRI. Any suggestions? This poor baby has no quality of life. All she does is sleep, eat, and I carry her out to go pee & poop. She can’t do stairs so I need to help her with that as well. Before this injury, she was perfectly fine other than a touch of arthritis. I’m at my wits end. Please help! Thank you!
Very sad . my tee cup just woke up one day not walking. Nothing discovered on xray and normal blood work. He very active im very scared.
My 12 year old boxer suffers from arthritis in both of her knees. It’s true there are so many causes of limping in dogs that it’s extremely important to bring them to the vet ASAP as soon as you notice anything that’s off. The best recommendation our vet gave us was to get an Ortocanis dog knee brace for each of her knees. http://www.ortocanis.com/en/technical-helps-for-dogs/90-knee-brace.html. They’re flexible enough to be able to stay on all day, but they provide stability and noticeably relieve pain and inflammation. It was something I had seen to often online in different articles talking about arthritis, but it has been a night and day type of difference for my dog’s quality of life.
I have a 6 year old Akita/Bordie Collie female 110lbs. She has a limp on and off. About a month ago she tried to run after a cat under a car and met brute resistance from the car frame. She had limped some before from inactivity and being 20 lbs overweight. I recently bought some property (acres) where she can have a big yard and lots of running room. I have yet to put up a fence and she is on a tie out. Also another thing to aggravate her leg getting tie out caught on things. I her chews for joints Glu… however you spell. I took her to the vet a few months ago about the leg weakness and they said she needs to lose weight and needs more exercise. Any suggestions in the meantime until I get her a fenced in yard? I bought a papasan cushion also so she doesn’t have to lay on a hard floor, she also has a futon she gets into. Thanks Jeff
My 1 yr old male English Bulldog has developed a limp in his back right leg and now it is happening slightly to his right front. I figured he sprained the back leg jumping from the couch but now I’m very worried. He also incessantly licks his front paws. I’ve examined the paws very carefully and found nothing abnormal. I am wondering if it is time to take him to the Vet? How long should I wait before going? Thank you kindly.
My mixed wolfhound/terrier had xrays the other day. His rear right leg is swollen and he is not putting any weight on his left leg. The xrays revealed no breaks, no hip displasia and no arthritis. They xrays his knees and there was nothing out of place. My dog is in pain and I desparately want to help him but don’t know what to do from here. Vet says they want to do biopsy on swollen leg which I think is ridiculous. Should I go get second opinion from somewhere?
My dog is about 80lbs. He is a pretty big dog. Not exactly sure of the mixed brees.
My dog has been diagnosed with lymes disease and was on doxycyline…it helped for the first few months…I didn’t take her to vet again but put her back on the same medication that I got and her limping in the back left leg is back…I don’t know what to do now. Do I go back and get another xray?
I have a cock a poo that is actually going to the vet tomorrow, but he is limping on both back legs, his backend has been swelling up and looks really elongated. I have been watching this for several months but seems to be getting worse. The vet told me before that it was just fatty rissue, i disagree. And advice
My 6lb Papillon had surgery a year and a half ago for a Luxating Patella on her left leg. She suddenly came up lame again, and we are all puzzled. It’s been 5 weeks now of Anti-inflammatory meds, pain meds, vet visits and xrays. Everything looks and feels good, but she won’t put weight on it. We are now wondering if the pin in her leg is bothering her. Has anyone had any problems of this sort?
thank you for your article!! i have a 12 year old jack Russell with Addison’s disease, takes an injection once a month…. well in a matter of two days, he has become lame in both hind legs, all he can do is scoot>>>> took him to the vet today, got his injection, sure this will not cause the problem, very worried because i can not afford surgery or an xray for that matter, he does not seem to be in any pain… very baffled any advise would be appreciated thank you
Hello. My dog Buddy is almost 12 years old and is a beagle mix (maybe part lab and rat terrier). He’s about 50lbs. Last year he had a ruptured CCL repaired in his right leg. He also had to have a benign tumor and his spleen removed last year. This weekend, he started limping and not putting pressure on his left leg. I can tell he’s uncomfortable and will take him to his vet for a diagnosis. My question is: given his age, is it possible for him to live comfortably without having surgery if it is another CCL injury? I love him so much and don’t want to lose him, but I also want to do what is best for him. Thoughts?
We have a 12 year old Sheltie who started having issues with his left leg. He couldn’t put weight on it and struggled just to try to stand up and had a hard time walking. Went to the vet and x-rays showed no hip displasia and arthritis in right hip. Put him on steroids and he did much better. Now off steroids and on glucosomine chondroitin. Same issue has started again. Now, he can’t put any weight at all on his left leg and just lays in one place. We have to carry him up and down the stairs. He can get up at all. He just collapses. 🙁 Vet appt tomorrow afternoon. Tell her to look at knee?? Anything else?
My dog was chasing a squirrel and failed to clear an 18 inch wall. He hit his back leg, and immediately started carrying it. He in 24 hours of rest stop something at all when he walks, but it has been 10 days and if he goes faster than a slow jog, he starts to skip. There was never any swelling, and he was never sensitive to the touch. He’s a 5yo Springer spaniel who is extremely active typically.
Typo above. Stopped limping when he walked after 2 days of rest
I have a 9 year old female pitbul who had both knees surgically treated for torn CCL some years back. The surgeon performed dual TPLO procedures and she has been better and active since. Except for this morning when she went lame in her left leg. Unable to apply any weight. After rushing her to the ER vet hospital who performed the TPLO surgey, the vet did X-rays and found the plates and screws were not damaged or actively causing the injury, she found no signs of fracture and summized it must be soft tissue injury. My dog yelps if her knee bends and I have her on Rimadyl and Gabapentin she is to have cafe rest for two weeks but I worry that it is more in the knee joint or tendons. I was told to contact the surgeon for follow up in two weeks if her condition does not improve. The day before we went for a walk at a casual pace for 45 minutes and she was fine all during the night. There is also no sight of a bite wound nor any excess fluids around her knee based on the X-ray. Her leg is swollen and is in a lot of pain even with the medication. As she is my service animal for emotional support I wonder if there is not more that I can do or if there cause is some other issue. Also can you give a dog an epson salt bath? I’m willing to try anything to ease her discomfort.
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