What is lameness in dogs?

Lameness in dogs, or limping, refers to the inability to properly use one or more limbs. We differentiate between two types of lameness: a) gradual onset limping and b) sudden onset limping. The former is often related to chronic degenerative conditions such as arthritis or hip/elbow dysplasia whilst the latter is usually related to an injury or trauma.

There are many reasons why your dog might be limping. The most common causes of lameness are osteoarthritis, elbow or hip dysplasia, craniate cruciate ligament disease, luxating patella (dislocated kneecap), spinal disease or injury, tendonitis, medial shoulder instability, muscle strain and/or ligament sprain.

How we can help

At Paws4Paws we take a multimodal approach to your dog’s lameness. Depending on the diagnosis from your vet, different treatment approaches will be required to address your dog’s lameness. Approaches we draw on include remedial massage techniques, myofascial pain release, acupressure, passive range of motion exercises as well as rehabilitative strengthening exercises to improve your dog’s mobility and decrease pain.

We always take a holistic approach to your dog’s lameness and assess whether their lameness is primary or potentially secondary to another condition. For example, your dog’s front limp lameness could be the result of elbow dysplasia (primary), however, it could also be the result of months (or sometimes even years) of compensating for aching arthritic hips or knees and atrophied hind limbs which led to overloading their front limbs. Prolonged overload of any body part leads to painful tight muscles which are prone to injury (secondary injury). We will make sure to address both, the primary and secondary injury or condition.

We also assess your home environment and, if necessary, give suggestions on how you can modify and adapt your home to decrease your dog’s discomfort, help healing, mitigate flare-ups in the case of degenerative conditions and slow the progression of degenerative diseases if present. Similarly, we discuss your dog’s exercise regime to see whether modifications are required.

At Paws4Paws we also refer to other specialists such as hydrotherapists and acupuncturists if we feel your dog would benefit from these modalities. Further, we might refer you back to your vet for reassessment of your dog’s pain management should we suspect your dog might be in pain that cannot be controlled and addressed with natural remedies, supplements and physical therapy alone.