You would think that figuring out what is causing your dogs limping should be easy. However, it would likely surprise you how often it can be a diagnostic mystery.
The reason for your dog’s lameness can be anywhere from their toenails, feet, all the way up to the leg. And sometimes the cause of limping has nothing to do with the leg at all.
Bruder is a two-year-old Collie cross. He is a gentle, good-natured dog who lives to run. Fortunately, he was adopted to a family who allowed him to drain his abundant energy with vigorous activity. When he gets to run free, you can just watch him fly through the terrain.
Bruder always runs gracefully and effortlessly, That day, his gait for awkward and jerky. Something was bothering his front left leg. Maybe a little sprain?
His mom rested him for a few days expecting things to improve. Allowing the injured tissue to heal is often enough to resolve the problem. But Bruder was still limping after resting for a week.
Seeing a veterinarian
Quite often, when a limping dog arrives at a veterinary clinic, a problem goes away. Adrenaline surge can do that. That’s why it is always a good idea to film what’s going on in case the dog won’t show the veterinarian.
It was not, however, the case with Bruder—his limp was quite obvious. Bruder’s front left leg was not happy. He was weight baring a little bit but definitely not putting full weight on the leg.
The veterinarian checked the leg from the tip of Bruder’s toes to his shoulder. However, all the manipulation and squeezing did not help to identify where was the problem. Nothing the veterinarian did resulted in the slightest pain response. Was Bruder hiding his pain?
The veterinarian dispensed pain medication and prescribed further rest. That often does the trick.
Back at the clinic
A week later, Bruder was still limping. This time his veterinarian x-rayed every inch of the lame leg—everything looked normal. What now?
Just when he had everybody sufficiently desperate, Bruder decided to provide a new clue. He started licking the paw pad of the lame leg. When his mom went to take a closer look, she noticed a tiny irregular area on one of Bruder’s pads. They returned to the veterinarian to share her finding.
It was a tiny protruding tip of something hard. When the veterinarian gently squeezed the pad, it poked out a bit further.
With forceps, the veterinarian grasped the tip a pulled out a splinter of glass almost half an inch long. It made its way into the tissue of the foot and hurt only when stepped on. That’s why the examination did not find it.
It very much reminds me of Cookie’s porcupine quill fragment in her foot. It too was completely invisible and causing severe lameness on that foot.
Just like quills, glass splinters tend to elude x-rays too.
As soon as the piece of glass was removed, Bruder’s lameness was gone and he could return to romping through the countryside.
Symptoms To Watch For In Your Dog: What Is That Limp?