Noticing a limb or lameness in our dogs can be a worrying time for us as owners.
But firstly is your dog lame? How do you know and what should you look out for?
There are a few telltale signs your dogs lame but also some subtle signs that preside lameness that you can look out for in an attempt to prevent lameness:
Not using a limb this is a full non-weight bearing lameness where the limb isn’t placed on the floor at all
Not using a limb fully known as a toe-touching lameness as the toes are placed on the ground but little to no weight is put on the limb
Weight-bearing lameness where the limb is used but still is not carrying full weight and appears as a limp
Gait dysfunction- this is not a full lameness at this stage but is a deviation from ‘normal’ movement of the limb this can take many forms from reduced flexion or extension of the individual joints or the full limb, a change in the rhythm of the gait or a movement of the limb towards or away from the body during movement or standing
Then you have a sound dog with ‘normal’ movement of all limbs- it’s important to remember that most dogs have some form of minor movement dysfunction and even very fit and healthy dogs often don’t fall into this category, in fact, I’m yet to see any dogs that do
As most dogs have some form of gait dysfunction it’s a good idea to learn what your dog’s gait looks like and get them regularly checked by your vet and vet physio to ensure any gait deviations don’t progress to lameness as most will progress if not managed carefully.
So what do you do if your dog is showing a gait imbalance?
Book an appointment with your vet physio, they can provide you with an exercise plan to help correct the imbalance and prevent it from progressing to a lameness. It is important to note only veterinary physiotherapists and some vets who hold a vet physiotherapy qualification (in the UK) are qualified and insured to design bespoke fitness and rehabilitation plans.
What do I do if my dog is lame?
You must book a vets visit to find the cause of the lameness. Only a vet (in the UK) can diagnose the cause of a lameness and no one else can treat your dog until this has been done. This is why at Fit-Pet Physio we always obtain vet consent before seeing your dog.
But what could have caused my dog to limp?
If you’re interested in looking at the causes of lameness and how to prevent them especially in sporting or working dogs who are most at risk download my recent webinar on just that.
Common injuries of the agility and flyball dog here.