Dog limping in back legs is a common symptom of arthritis, but there are several other reasons your dog could be limping depending on his age, activity levels, recent injuries, breed, and how long the limp lasts. Arthritis can result from dysplasia, or malformation of joints, as well as an injury, overuse, or as part of the natural ageing process. Arthritis can impact dogs of any age; dogs as young as 2 can start to show signs of arthritis, so you should never rule out the possibility based on age alone even if they're as old as that old waxed canvas backpack you got in college.
Common Causes of Limping in Back Legs
Joint diseases are some of the most common causes of limping in back legs. These diseases include osteoarthritis, hip and/or elbow dysplasia, ligament disease, osteochondritis dissecans (OCD), intervertebral disk disease, and patellar luxation. These conditions cause joints and the musculoskeletal system to wear down over time, which can lead to limping, stiffness, and overall discomfort.
Other Potential Causes of Dog Limping in Back Legs:
Limping in back legs doesn’t always mean arthritis is to blame, some other potential causes to consider include:
- Paw injury
Check your dog’s paw pads for thorns, glass, sticks, or other foreign objects or issues that could cause pain, discomfort and limping.
- Lyme disease
Tick bites can cause Lyme disease, which is known to cause joint pain and limping. A tick preventative is crucial, especially for active hunting dogs that spend a lot of time in rural and rugged areas where ticks congregate.
- Bone disease
It’s rare, but certain bone diseases like hypertrophic osteodystrophy and panosteitis can impact large breed puppies and cause pain and limping when walking.
- Injury or trauma
Was your dog recently injured or involved in an accident? If the cause of the limp is injury related, make sure your dog gets plenty of rest before returning to normal activity. The issue could relate to a fracture, sprain, dislocation, ligament tear, joint trauma, or broken bone. You may need to visit your vet for appropriate treatment.
Dog Limping in Back Legs—Is it Arthritis?
Dog limping in back legs is one of the most common signs of arthritis in your dog’s rear end or back legs. Arthritis gets worse over time, so slight stiffness may eventually turn into limping. Your dog may only limp at certain times, perhaps after first getting up, following extensive periods of exercise, or when the weather is cold.
Signs of Arthritis to Look Out For
Limping is a common indicator of arthritis, but limping can mean a lot of other things too. Along with limping, here are other signs of arthritis to look out for:
- Your dog is prone to hip or elbow dysplasia
Certain dog breeds are at a predisposition to hip or elbow dysplasia, which is when joints do not properly form, leading to faster wear and tear, inflammation, and increased risk for early onset arthritis.
- Your dog is stiff when he first wakes up
Your dog moves stiffly when he first gets up or after periods of exercise.
- You notice your dog’s behavior changing
Your dog isn’t as eager to run, jump, play, go out hunting, or even follow you around the house. Some dogs may develop signs of agitation or depression. They may suddenly become resistant to things they typically did without second thought, like jumping on the bed, climbing the stairs or hopping in the car.
If Limping Relates to Arthritis, What Should You Do?
There is no known cure for arthritis and it is a progressive disease, meaning it’ll get worse over time. The speed at which arthritis progresses can fluctuate based on the measures you take. No matter how young or old your dog is, there are certain things you can do to postpone the development of arthritis.
- Give your dog a supplement to help promote better joint health.
Free Range was specifically developed by a pet nutritionist to give your active dog the joint support he or she needs. Arthritis causes cartilage to break down faster than the body can keep up with. That’s why Free Range is packed with essential nutrients that help the body rebuild cartilage.
Vitality offers 15,000 mg of Krill Oil. Krill oil has been scientifically proven to ease discomfort and progressive damage caused by arthritis. It is considered a more efficient and cleaner source of omega 3’s compared to Fish Oil.
- Keep your dog’s weight in check by feeding a well-balanced diet.
Overweight dogs are more likely to develop arthritis and symptoms will worsen faster because excess weight puts even more pressure on joints and the musculoskeletal system.
- Make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise.
Sedentary dogs are more prone to weight issues, plus a lack of exercise allows arthritis to worsen faster.
- Stretch and massage your dog on a regular basis.
Stretching and massaging your dog can help reduce inflammation and promote greater mobility.