Dog Limping Front Leg

Dogs put more than 60 percent of their weight on their front legs, so there are many things that can cause dog limping on a front leg rather than a rear leg. Though it's more common to see limping from the rear because of joint problems like hip dysplasia, it's even easier for a dog to injure his front leg.

Limping Due to a Foreign Object

If the limping begins suddenly, the first culprit should be a foreign object. Check your dog's front legs for stickers or other objects lodged into the foot. Check the pad and between the toes.

Even if the object is dislodged, you may notice cuts or bleeding around the pad. If so, that is your culprit. Clean the wound and put some mild disinfectant object.

Even if your dog doesn't often let you look at his feet, you can often tell if the problem is caused by a foreign object because your dog objects more strongly to you looking at one foot than the other. If he's licking or biting, give him a chance to remove the object himself before you step in. A muzzle may be necessary.

Injuries that Cause Limping

Because dogs put so much pressure on their front legs, they are more susceptible to an injury in that area, especially if they are running or jumping off objects.

Dogs can get muscle strains or pulls just like we can. If your dog seems like he's in serious pain, consult a veterinarian. If the limping is mild, keep your dog from excessive exercise for a few days, and it should heal on its own. Your veterinarian may recommend Rimadyl to reduce inflammation during recovery.

Fractures are much more obvious because there will be swelling and your dog will likely not be able to put any pressure on the leg. If this is the case, get your dog off his feet and take him to the veterinarian.

Arthritis and Joint Problems

Most dogs acquire arthritis or hip dysplasia in their hips, so owners don't expect their dogs to develop it in their front legs. However, front joints can also suffer from problems, as knees and ankles can also develop arthritis.

These symptoms may seem sudden, but they likely aren't. Dogs may have spent months changing their gait or stance to ease the tension while you just didn't notice. As time goes on, the pain grows, and you will eventually see a limp, likely after exercise.

While joint supplements are generally designed for larger joints, they can help reduce inflammation in front legs as well. Your veterinarian may also prescribe a painkiller, such as Rimadyl, to reduce pain. Massage, heat therapy and low-impact exercise such as swimming can also help.


Though less likely, limping can be caused by tick borne illnesses such as Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. All tick borne illnesses can cause lameness in one joint at a time. This lameness will often last a few days and then may disappear or rotate to another area.

If no other causes are apparent and you live in an area with tick exposure, ask your veterinarian to test for a tick disease.