Is Limping an Emergency?

Limping is usually not an emergency unless …

A limping dog should get veterinary help immediately if there were

  • a significant trauma
  • fracture or dislocation
  • bleeding
  • severe swelling
  • hot limbs
  • or dragging of limbs

Limping is an emergency when accompanied by severe pain.

Is Limping an Emergency?

What causes limping

Limping always indicates pain or dysfunction of some kind.

Whether or not it is an emergency is a matter of degree.

For example, if your dog got hit by a car, fell from a great height, it is always an emergency. If your dog has been running and playing and suddenly starts screaming in pain and not putting any weight on a limb, it is an emergency.

Would you wait and see or would seek emergency care if you broke your leg?

With an injury painful enough to make you scream, would you wait and see or rush to the ER? The same logic applies when it comes to your dog.

Acute limping

Acute limping is more likely to be an emergency.

Keep in mind, though, that limping and limb pain that is getting worse instead of better could mean bone cancer. While not a true emergency per se, you want to have that diagnosed and treated as soon as possible.

Have I ever taken my dog to a vet for limping immediately?

Yes, I have. I have never had a case where we’d have to rush to an ER; our dogs have never had such a major trauma, for which I am thankful.

But there were a couple of occasions when we saw a vet with a limp the same day it happened or the next.

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

Further reading:
First Aid for Limping Dogs

Categories: EmergenciesLimpingPainSymptoms

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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.

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