Dog Front Leg Lameness: Is Crawling Under Things Some Kind Of Secret Physical Therapy?

In my experience, hind leg lameness is more common than limping on the front leg. That is not to say that front legs cannot get injured or suffer from orthopedic issues.

Arthritis doesn’t discriminate and can affect any joint(s) in the body especially if there are any anatomic abnormalities or laxity. A front leg can sustain a soft tissue injury, or a broken bone. Further, front leg lameness can be a compensation injury with the real problem being in the rear leg(s).

Deciphering lameness can sometimes be more complicated than you’d think.

With Jasmine, the assumption was arthritis in the elbow. She didn’t have elbow dysplasia but her front was compensating for the challenges her hind legs have gone through.

We employed treatments that should help with arthritis with mixed results.

Dog Front Leg Lameness: Is Crawling Under Things Some Kind Of Secret Physical Therapy?

Jasmine’s story

Jasmine got to go to her ranch–a property we have in Northern Ontario. She loves the place. The trip to Jasmine’s ranch was fantastic.

It was Jasmine’s birthday, and it was her best birthday ever.

You always want everything to be extra special on somebody’s birthday and it hardly ever works out that way. This time, though, it did. Jasmine got to spend it at her ranch, which she loves. The weather cooperated and it was nice and cool, and it didn’t rain.

Jasmine knew it was her special day, you could just see that.

What about Jasmine’s troublesome elbow?

Her front left elbow was giving her hard time for quite some time. She was clearly favoring the leg most of the time. The diagnosis was arthritis and we treated it accordingly. The results, however, were mixed.

While on the ranch, though, Jasmine was feeling great—running like a fool, wrestling with JD, didn’t slow down the whole day. I was worried what it was going to do to her sore muscles but how can you stop her from enjoying her birthday? That would be criminal.

The amazing thing was that she did NOT pay for it later.

Not even a little bit. No limping, no favoring of one leg or another, nothing. And that’s the way it stayed the whole trip. Just like the last time. And yet at home, she’d be sore to a various degree every night…

Crazy activity and no lameness

And yet, while up on her ranch, this time, and the last, with all the extra activity she looked fantastic. In spite of it or because of it?

Jasmine’s chiropractor thinks that it is a result of being more active. But the activity level isn’t really that much higher than when she goes to the horse farm on the weekends. And while joints might benefit from more movement, you’d think that sore muscles would prefer rest.

Jasmine’s main vet thinks that it is from all the excitement which covers up the pain. That would explain why she always looks good during the day but would that explain that she didn’t limp at all at night either?

Different kind of movement

The only thing that is truly different on her ranch is her crawling in and out from her den under the trailer. 

That’s where she hides from the heat and rests between activities. I tell you, getting in and out of there looks like a lot of work. And then, of course, the ground needs to be adjusted every time by digging a better hole. This time she also liked to go under the little bridge we have between the two decks and that one is LOW!

While she has to crouch to get under the trailer, she literally has to crawl on her belly to get under there! I was so worried that she’d never be able to get out from there again, but a piece of cake.

That is some serious (and unusual) workout for those legs!

So I’m wondering, is crawling under things some kind of secret physical therapy?

Also, this time, the lack of lameness is still holding the first day back home. Fingers crossed. I’m just happy that Jasmine could enjoy her birthday trip to the fullest without having to pay for it later.

The swelling on her leg has also gone down and the yeast infection also seems to be resolving. Going to see her vet for a checkup on Saturday to make sure things are where they should be.

Jasmine got medicated shampoo for the yeast infection and was supposed to get a bath every two days. How do you give your dog a bath in the middle of the wilderness, though?

So, instead, we were treating the feet with betadine/alcohol solution.

It was God sent that just before we left I heard from Dr. Kristi of Vet-Stem. We were wrecking our brains trying to figure out how to continue with the baths during the trip. She was asking how Jasmine was doing and said that when her dog had a yeast infection on his feet, the thing that worked the best for him was spraying them frequently with a solution of 50% betadine and 50% rubbing alcohol.

I was so glad to hear that! So much easier to do! So that’s what we’ve been doing and so far so good.

Just one last thing to add about the trip and that is how impressed I was with the way the guys were able to keep cool in their den under the trailer!

On Saturday the temperature climbed up to 39° Celsius (102.2° F)!

In the shade! I was quite worried, ready to water the guys down. But we never had to do that. I was watching Jasmine, resting under the trailer comfortably, breathing deeply and slowly … never even started panting under there. Now, that is impressive.

(I do have some more photos but have to get them off the laptop yet)

Related articles:
Why Is My Dog Limping? Causes of Lameness in Dogs—Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog
Elbow Problem Or Root Signature?

Further reading:
Front Leg Injury in Dogs

Categories: LamenessReal-life StoriesSymptoms

Tags: :

Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

Share your thoughts