Limping Dog Checklist (part V): Joint Injuries

by  Krista Magnifico, DVM
See full article here

Joint injuries are one of the most common lameness causes we see. 

Maci a few days after her cruciate repair surgery.
Photo Diary of a Real-Life Veterinarian

Most often these occur after excessive or strenuous play. Some clients report that their dog was playing and they heard a sharp "Yelp!" and since then the dog has been sporadically lame. Typically this is a cranial cruciate injury.

These dog have persistent lameness that may slightly improve and then worsen but in general they do not go back to normal weight bearing until the knee is stabilized. This is usually a surgical fix.

I always advise that every limping and lame dog be kept quiet and calm by leash walking outside at all times, or crating until your vet can see you. 

No running, jumping or play. Rest the leg. In many cases that is the only needed treatment.

A dog in significant pain to the point of not using the leg, being reluctant to stand or walk, or not interested in play, interaction, or even eating needs a vet immediately.

In general a limping dog is not an emergency unless they are bleeding excessively, progressively worsening, or having a change in attitude or behavior.

In all cases your vet should be consulted. There are lots of options available after a diagnosis is provided.

If you have a pet question, or want to share your pet knowledge, please join the free online pet information exchange network that is dedicated to helping pet parents learn about how to best care for their pets. is free to use and open to anyone who loves pets.

I can also be found at the clinic, Jarrettsville Vet, in Jarrettsville Maryland. We post our prices and fees every year and we have a wonderful Facebook page. I am also on Twitter @FreePetAdvice.

Articles by Dr. Magnifico:
Don't Make This Mistake: Ruby's Death To Heat Stroke 
Parvo: Cora's Story 
Jake's Laryngeal Paralysis
The Tip Of The Iceberg: The Unexpected Dental Dilemma
The Ear Ache That Wasn't Going Away: Tottsie's Story
Cody's Eyelid Tumor
Ruger's Mysterious Illness
The Day The Heart Stood Still: Timber's Story 
Different Definition Of Comfort Food: Levi's Story 
Savannah's Pancreatitis  
Histiocytoma: Rio's Mysterious Bump
Von Willebrand's Disease: Greta's Story 
Alice's Heart Murmur  
Jekyll Loses His Tail Mo-Jo 
Pale Gums Are An Emergency: Bailey's Story 
To Amputate Or Not To Amputate: Heidi's Story
Lessons From A Real-Life Veterinarian 
Charlie's Life Saving Lipoma Surgery  
Understanding and Diagnosing The Limping Dog, Why To Probe The Paw 
Angus' Dog Fight And The Consequences
When To Induce Vomiting And When It's Not A Good Idea  
Abby's Survived Being Run Over By Car But Sucumbed To A Mammary Tumor 
Palmer's Hemoabdomen: Nearly An Unnecessary Death Sentence
A Puppy That Doesn't Want To Eat Or Play Is An Emergency: Aurora's Story
Does Your Dog Like Chewing Sticks? Hank's Story  
Lexi's Bump 
Pyometra: Happy Ending for Pheonix 
Never Give Up: Bella's New Legs 
How Losing His Spleen Saved Buddy's Life 
Pyometra Emergency: Saving Chloe  
Limping Dog Checklist (part I): Did You Check the Toenails?
Limping Dog Checklist (part II): Did You Check between the Toes?
Limping Dog Checklist (part III): Foot Pads 
Limping Dog Checklist (part IV): Broken Bones 

Do you have a story to share?

Your story can help others, maybe even save a life!

What were the first signs you noticed? How did you dog get diagnosed? What treatment did/didn't work for you? What was your experience with your vet(s)? How did you cope with the challenges?

Email me, I'll be happy to hear from you.