Dog Limps After Running

Last Updated on January 24, 2022 by Fabiola L.

Injuries are just as common with dogs as they are with their owners and it’s not odd to notice that sometimes your dog limps after running. This can mean many different things, varying from concerning to something you can freely ignore. However, it is very important to properly identify exactly what happened to your dog and treat it!

Dog Limps After Running

The first question you have to ask yourself is whether this happens often or is it an isolated incident? If your dog doesn’t have a history of limping after exercise, then it’s likely nothing to be worried about. Just like humans, dogs can simply overwork themselves. There are also other possibilities, like lightly spraining something or pulling a muscle. This is usually nothing to worry about and your dog’s body will heal itself.

However, if you find your dog walking with a limp often, especially after exercising, then there could be a chronic problem at hand. In this case, it’s best not to agitate your dog or force any new exercises on it before you take it to the vet. Injuries are much more common than chronic illnesses, however, and it’s more likely that your dog is recovering from an injury than from an illness!

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Limping Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Limping is usually the response to an injury or an illness that’s affecting one of your dog’s legs. It’s also possible for your dog to limp with two legs, not only one.

Your dog’s limp can be worse at different times – as we already said, your dog’s limping can intensify after exercise. Sometimes the limping can become more apparent in the early morning or late at night. Whatever the case, there are several symptoms of lameness you should be able to recognize.

Lameness Symptoms

The first symptom is clearly limping, but there are others that often accompany it!

The pain your dog feels will generally accompany the feeling of discomfort around the painful leg. Your dog will also avoid movement whenever it can, as it’s unable to walk normally. When it does walk, it’s going to walk slowly and it will avoid using its hurt leg.

It’s also possible for your dog to develop some swelling around the affected leg!

Causes For Lameness

There can be many different causes for lameness of the leg (or more legs), with some of them being chronic while others are acute.

The most common causes are acute ones! Your dog could have some simple and completely natural trauma to the leg; a knock, a sprain, a thorn in the foot, etc. However, some of these cases are more common with younger dogs. For example, younger dogs are prone to over-exercising! If you see that your dog limps after running, the most likely cause is over-exercise.

natural trauma to the leg

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Older dogs, on the other hand, can start to develop arthritis, which is a very common condition with older dogs. Arthritis usually affects the knees, shoulders, and hips, which could cause pain for your dog when it’s walking.

There are also other possible causes, these are more extreme and we want to point out that there are much more rare, so you shouldn’t be too worried about them. These causes are: more severe trauma (broken bones, dislocated joints, torn ligaments, and tendons), hip dysplasia (more common with larger dogs), various diseases and cancers, nerve damage, various genetic disorders, and abnormalities.

Treating Lameness

If your dog limping doesn’t stop on its own after a day or two, you should definitely take your pup to the vet.

After careful examination and performing tests, your vet will usually know exactly what’s wrong with your dog’s leg (or legs).

The most common treatment of lameness is restricting your dog’s movement – a few days of rest are usually what your dog needs, as the most common causes for lameness are minor and acute ones. If this doesn’t work out, your dog will have to go back for more testing.

However, if the vet determines that your dog is suffering from more intense trauma like broken bones or dislocated joints, then it’s going to have to undergo surgery. The good news is that injuries this extreme aren’t that common with dogs.

The treatment for more serious causes of lameness (illnesses, cancers, genetic abnormalities, etc.) is more complex, but chances are that your dog won’t even need them!

Preventing Lameness

The best way to cure any trauma is to prevent it! Since most causes of limping are traumas, you should try your best to prevent it.

The most important thing to keep an eye on throughout your dog’s whole life is their diet!

Diet management from an early age is crucial in order to keep your dog healthy. There are many supplements your dog could take that are encouraged by vets, especially for some breeds that are prone to developing bone issues.

You should also make sure to never overwork your dog! This is especially important during their younger years – their bones are still forming at this point and overworking them can cause trouble down the road. It’s also important to have your dog checked for any congenital issues or genetic abnormalities when they’re young. Always try to keep them away from the road to avoid any accidents and clean their paws regularly.

Take the exercising down a notch as your dog gets older, as older dogs don’t need that much exercise. You should also be more mindful of the dog’s diet as they age because their nutritional needs change with age.

If you find your dog limping after playing or if your dog’s back leg is limping after running, there’s most likely no reason to worry. Small, natural trauma is completely normal with dogs and the cause will most likely resolve itself in no time! However, if your dog is still limping after a few days, then it’s best to have the leg checked out. Your vet should be able to determine what the problem is and how to treat it. There can be many different causes for lameness, some more serious than others. Be mindful of your dog’s diet and exercise to prevent lameness and listen to your vet’s advice!

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