VCA Animal Hospitals

Lameness in Dogs

What is lameness?

Lameness refers to an inability to properly use one or more limbs. It is most often associated with pain or injury. The most common causes of acute or sudden lameness in dogs are injury to a joint, bone fracture or dislocation. Osteoarthritis and hip dysplasia may also cause lameness in dogs. Lameness can affect dogs of any age from growing puppies to senior dogs.

  • Puppies - lameness may be caused by growth abnormalities or by injury
  • Adult Dogs - limb injuries sometimes occur without any history of an accident or trauma
  • Senior Dogs - Degenerative joint disease (DJD) or arthritis are the most common causes of lameness

My dog suddenly developed lameness and there is no obvious cause on examinations or x-ray. What can be done?

lameness_2009Lameness of unknown origin is common in dogs of all types and sizes. If only they could talk!  Depending on the severity and duration, additional tests such as blood and urine tests to look for an infectious cause may be required. In some cases, a trial with anti-inflammatory medications may be necessary. Your veterinarian will determine the best course of action based on your pet's condition and the results of diagnostic tests.

If my dog continues to be lame, will he be on medication forever?

Not necessarily. Most of the time, we are able to accurately diagnose the cause of lameness and provide your pet with specific treatment. Some forms of lameness such as osteoarthritis require lifelong medical treatment while others require surgical repair.

Related Tags

lameness, osteoarthritis, dysplasia, arthritis

Looking to learn more?

We also offer free, instant access to over 1,500 related articles on your pet's health including preventive medicine, common and not so common diseases, and even informative case studies. We encourage you to read any of these popular articles below or search our extensive pet health library.

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About our approach to exceptional pet health care

At VCA Animal Hospitals, our veterinarians take you and your pet's health seriously. With over 600 hospitals and 1,800 fully qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, we strive to give your pet the very best in medical care. We understand your pet is an extension of you, and appreciate the opportunity to share in providing exceptional pet care and quality of life.

* Free initial health exam for new clients only. Not to be combined with any other offer. Not good toward boarding, grooming, prescription and non-prescription medication, and retail items. Not good toward emergency and/or specialty veterinary services. Coupon good for up to two pets (dogs or cats only) per household. Redeemable only at a general practice VCA Animal Hospital. For pet owners who are aged 18 and older.

If you are a new client, you can get a free first exam* on your first visit.

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