Dog Limping after Laying Down

The observation of a dog limping after getting up may indicate the onset of arthritis. Usually the dog will be stiff and sore and walk with a limp after having been lying down for a while. Arthritis is the inflammation of the joints and surrounding tissues and is quite painful.

Other possible causes can be traumatic injury to the joint, a ruptured cruciate knee ligament, or broken or fractured bones, which in time will heal and the limp will disappear. Infections, herniated spine discs and tumors can also cause temporary limping if they affect the limbs.

Arthritis Comes with Age

Arthritis is usually considered an "old age" medical condition; however, younger dogs can also contract it. Arthritis can affect any size, gender, age or breed of dog. Factors that can determine the development of the disease include joint trauma or injury, age, nutritional disorders and hip dysplasia. Canine osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that leads to cartilage loss, loss of mobility and eventually permanent joint damage.

Besides having difficulty in getting up from a period of lying down, arthritis can manifest these other symptoms:

  • Slow deliberate movement
  • Changes in pace or gait
  • Inflammation and heat
  • Stiffness and joint tenderness
  • Swelling and pain at and around the joints
  • Limping
  • Reluctance to move
  • Difficulty in moving: sitting, standing, jumping, climbing, squatting, getting up or lying down

Arthritis can be the result of the grinding of bones at a joint site, such as the case with hip dysplasia where the ball and socket joint of the hip grinds against itself because the bones are deformed. Arthritis can also form tiny bony spikes within and/or around the joint, which then can push against nerves along the spine.

It is because of the nature of arthritis that a dog will get up with difficulty and then walk slowly, stiffly with soreness and pain. The longer a dog walks after getting up, the better their walk becomes since the joint warms up and the joint fluid begins to lubricate the joint for easier movement.


Arthritis can be treated with chondroitin and glucosamine combinations, vitamin E, fatty acid supplements and acupuncture. Since glucosamine and chondroitin are both naturally produced by the body, there are little or no dangerous side effects. However, when arthritis is present, the body is unable to produce enough of these two substances, so supplements are necessary. Chondroitin blocks cartilage-destroying enzymes while glucosamine helps produce new cartilage.

The other medication used for treating arthritis is NSAIDs (non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs). NSAIDs suppress the body chemical cyclooxygenase, which is responsible for the arthritic pain and joint inflammation. However, their use poses some side effects and risks and therefore their use must be closely and frequently monitored.

Some of the side effects and risks include:

  • Appetite loss
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Ulcers
  • Kidney damage
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Digestive tract perforations
  • Liver problems

If NSAIDs do not work, a veterinarian may prescribe corticosteroids; however, these pose even higher risks, especially if used for an extended period of time. They can dramatically reduce joint inflammation and pain as well as slow bone density loss and improve damaged cartilage.