Sudden Leg Pain in Dogs

Leg pain can be distressing for both your pet and you. Sudden leg pain is very common in dogs but should not be ignored as it is difficult to treat. The pain can be due to several causes and you should monitor your pet regularly. If you observe any signs of discomfort, you should have him diagnosed and treated at the earliest by the vet.

Symptoms of Sudden Leg Pain in Dogs:

  • Limping and refusal to put weight on the affected limb
  • Reluctance to walk, run, climb stairs or undertake any other usual physical activity
  • Excessive grooming of the affected area
  • Loss of hair in the affected area as a result of excessive grooming
  • Yelping in pain when the affected area is touched
  • Change in behavior such as aggression
  • Depression
  • Weakness in the affected limb 
  • Loss of appetite

Causes of Sudden Leg Pain in Dogs

Sudden leg pain in dogs can be caused by a number of factors. If your pet has been bitten in the leg by another dog, it would result in the onset of sudden pain. Other causes include dislocation of the knee cap or patella, a condition known as luxating patella that is common in small breeds such as Chihuahuas. Dislocation of the hip from its socket, a hereditary condition is also known as hip dysplasia.

A similar cause for sudden leg pain is elbow dysplasia, a condition caused by the improper fusion of the ulna to the elbow. Besides this, an accident or injury could cause a fracture or a sprain in the leg that could be extremely painful. Growth related leg pain that’s sudden in onset is common in large breeds and is known as Pano. In addition to this a foreign body embedded into the pads of the paw can also cause sudden leg pain and limping.

Diagnosis of Sudden Leg Pain

Some types of leg pain are easy to diagnose such as a foreign body or a bite. For other types of leg pain, a veterinarian will conduct a physical exam, listen for grinding or clicking sounds and take X-rays to help diagnose the cause of the pain.

The vet will confirm whether the pain is confined to one limb or whether other limbs are involved and will move the sore leg and watch your pet walk to determine the cause of the leg pain.

Treatment of Sudden Leg Pain

Treatment will depend on the cause of the pain. A fracture will need to be set. Surgery may be required for hip dysplasia and related causes. In all cases of sudden leg pain, medications to manage the pain have to be administered. The medications that are generally used are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. It’s best to not treat your pet with an over the counter drug as some can be dangerous even in small doses. Only medications prescribed by the vet should be administered to provide relief to your suffering pet.

You should provide your pet with a lot of care and attention, administer medication as prescribed and wait for him to recover with the help of some physical rehabilitation.