What Causes Transient Limping in Dogs?

Our Bernese Mountain Dog, Hogan, had a very noticeable limp in his front right leg this past Saturday. We felt his paw and leg all...


Our Bernese Mountain Dog, Hogan, had a very noticeable limp in his front right leg this past Saturday. We felt his paw and leg all over and he didn’t cry or even really flinch when we touched him. Sunday morning, it was totally gone.

Last night, he got up and it looked like one of his back legs caused a sudden limp, but it was gone two minutes later. Do you think he may have just pulled something running around on Saturday and/or his back leg fell asleep yesterday or do you think there is a bigger issue here?

I did find a tick on him over a month ago and pulled it off. He is also on Frontline. Your advice is greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

Alexandria, VA

Limping is one of the most common problems I am asked to assess. There are many causes of limping in dogs.

Soft tissue trauma–strains, sprains, and pulled muscles–is the most common cause of limping in dogs and cats in my experience. Limping due to these sorts of mild injuries usually resolves with a few days of rest.

Young (less than two years old), large dogs are subject to a syndrome called panosteitis, or growing pains. Panosteitis causes intermittent limping that often shifts from one leg to another. Panosteitis generally resolves over time. Many dogs with growing pains require no treatment. Others need anti-inflammatory medications or other types of pain killers.

Bernese Mountain dogs are predisposed to certain hereditary conditions that can cause limping. Elbow dysplasia can lead to early arthritis and limping on the front legs. Wobbler syndrome, in which the spinal column develops improperly, can lead to limping especially in the rear legs.

Older dogs are at risk of degenerative joint disease, also known as arthritis. Arthritis can lead to chronic or intermittent limping on multiple legs.

If Hogan’s limping has resolved and not returned, you probably have nothing to worry about. However, chronic or recurrent limping is a solid reason to see the vet.

Read more about limping at my website:


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