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Why Is My Dog Limping On Back Leg But Not Crying



Reviewed By: Dr. Joel Robertson

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It can be alarming to see your dog limping on their back leg, even if they are not crying. Limping is a sign of pain in dogs, and they are skilled at hiding their discomfort.

While some dogs may vocalize their pain, others may exhibit silent signs of distress.

Therefore, it is important to pay attention to any limping behavior exhibited by your dog, as it could indicate an underlying issue.

Key Takeaways:

  • Your dog might be limping on its back leg without crying due to reasons such as an injury, trauma, muscle sprain, arthritis, or other joint diseases, and it’s important to remember that absence of vocal distress doesn’t necessarily mean your dog isn’t in pain.
  • Limping in dogs is a sign of pain, even if they are not crying.
  • Mild limping may indicate milder pain, while severe limping may be a sign of a more serious condition.
  • Acute limping, lasting less than two weeks, can often be attributed to minor injuries or irritation and can be treated at home.
  • Chronic limping, lasting two weeks or more, may indicate degenerative joint disease or unresolved trauma.
  • Consulting a vet is crucial for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

What Is Limping in Dogs

Limping in dogs can occur gradually over time or suddenly, and it is often a sign of an underlying condition or injury.

It is important for dog owners to pay close attention to their furry friend’s gait and behavior when they notice limping.

By understanding the different types of limping and their potential causes, owners can take appropriate action to ensure their dog’s well-being.

Gradual onset limping: This type of limping develops slowly over time and may be indicative of chronic conditions such as arthritis or degenerative joint disease. It is crucial to observe any changes in your dog’s mobility and seek veterinary care for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

Sudden onset limping: When a dog starts limping suddenly, it is often a result of a recent injury or trauma. This can include fractures, sprains, or even paw injuries such as cuts or foreign objects lodged in the paw. Prompt attention from a veterinarian is essential to determine the extent of the injury and provide appropriate treatment.

In some cases, limping can be accompanied by other symptoms such as swelling, heat, or difficulty putting weight on the affected leg. These additional signs can help pinpoint the cause of the limping and aid in the diagnosis process.

Why Is My Dog Limping On Back Leg But Not Crying

Why Is My Dog Limping On Back Leg But Not Crying

Causes of limping in dogs range from minor paw injuries to more serious diseases and disorders.

It is important to recognize these causes in order to provide appropriate care and treatment for our furry friends.

Paw Injuries

Paw injuries, such as cuts, abrasions, or foreign objects lodged in the paw, can cause limping in dogs. Due to their curious nature and tendency to explore their environment, dogs can easily injure their paws during walks or playtime.

It is essential to carefully examine your dog’s paws for any visible signs of injury, such as bleeding or swelling. In case of a minor paw injury, cleaning the wound and applying a pet-safe antiseptic can help prevent infection and reduce discomfort.

Diseases and Disorders

Limping can also be a symptom of various diseases and disorders that affect a dog’s joints and muscles. Conditions like arthritis, Lyme disease, and hip dysplasia can lead to chronic pain and limping.

These diseases are more commonly seen in older dogs or breeds that are genetically predisposed to joint problems. Regular veterinary check-ups and early detection of these conditions can help manage the symptoms and improve your dog’s quality of life.

Injury and Trauma

Injury and trauma, including fractures, sprains, or muscle strains, can cause acute limping in dogs. These types of injuries can occur during accidents, falls, or intense physical activity. It is crucial to provide immediate care and rest for your dog in such cases.

Consulting a veterinarian for a thorough examination and appropriate treatment plan is essential to ensure proper healing and prevent any long-term consequences.

It is important to remember that limping is a sign of pain, even if a dog is not crying. Dogs are skilled at hiding their pain, so it is crucial to pay attention to signs of discomfort, such as changes in behavior, limited mobility, or reluctance to put weight on the affected leg.

The Importance of Veterinary Care For Limping Dogs

When your dog starts limping, it is crucial to consult a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment. Limping is a sign of pain, even if your dog is not crying. Dogs are skilled at hiding their pain, so it is important to pay attention to signs of discomfort.

Mild limping may indicate a milder form of pain, while severe limping may be a sign of a more serious condition.

Seeking veterinary care is essential because a vet can conduct a thorough physical examination to determine the underlying cause of the limping.

This examination may include palpating the affected leg, checking for any visible injuries or abnormalities, and assessing the dog’s range of motion. In cases of ongoing or chronic limping, a vet’s expertise is invaluable in providing appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

By consulting a vet, you can ensure that your dog receives the necessary pain relief and treatment plan tailored to their specific condition.

This may include pain medication, physical therapy, or even surgery in severe cases. Remember, early intervention and proper care can make a significant difference in your dog’s recovery and overall well-being.

Medications For Limping Dogs

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like carprofenOnce or twice daily
Pain relievers such as TramadolEvery 8 to 12 hours
Supplements like glucosamine and chondroitinDaily
Steroids for severe inflammation, like prednisoneAs prescribed by the vet
Antibiotics for infections causing limpingAs prescribed by the vet
Joint fluid modifiers such as hyaluronic acidAs prescribed by the vet

Please note that all medications should be given under the supervision and prescription of a licensed veterinarian.

Common Myths about Dog Limping

There are common myths associated with dog limping that need to be debunked to ensure your dog’s well-being. It is important to understand that dogs are skilled at hiding pain, so just because they may not be crying, it doesn’t mean they’re not experiencing discomfort.

Limping is actually a sign of pain, and it’s crucial to pay attention to any changes in your dog’s behavior or mobility.

One common myth is that if a dog is acting normal and not showing any signs of distress, they must not be in pain. However, dogs are masters at masking their pain to avoid appearing vulnerable. So even if your dog is not crying or showing obvious signs of discomfort, it doesn’t mean they’re not experiencing pain.

Another myth is that a dog’s limp will go away on its own without any intervention. While it’s true that some cases of limping may be temporary and resolve on their own, it is not wise to assume that will always be the case.

Limping can have various underlying causes, including injuries, diseases, or joint disorders. It is always best to consult a veterinarian to determine the cause of the limp and provide appropriate treatment.

“Remember, it’s important to prioritize your dog’s well-being and seek professional veterinary care if you notice any limping or signs of pain. Dogs rely on us to advocate for their health, so let’s debunk these myths and ensure their comfort and happiness.”

Get immediate veterinary help for your dog!

We partnered up with JustAnswer which has a team of highly trained veterinarians on stand-by to help you out with your dog limping.

Home Remedies For Acute Limping In Dogs

Home remedies for acute limping in dogs involve rest, the application of ice packs, and the use of CBD oil for joint pain.


One of the primary steps to treat a dog limping at home is to ensure adequate rest. Restricting activities such as running, jumping, playing, and climbing stairs can help the dog recover faster. It’s also advisable to keep the dog away from slippery surfaces to prevent further injury.

Ice Packs

If the limping is associated with swelling brought on by a sprain, bruise, or tendonitis, applying ice packs to the area for 15 minutes twice a day can be beneficial. This helps to reduce inflammation and alleviate discomfort.


For dogs suffering from moderate to severe chronic conditions that are causing the limping, CBD oil might be a suitable option. It’s been shown to help manage joint pain and improve mobility. However, it’s always recommended to consult with a veterinarian before starting any new treatment regimen.

Avoid Human Over-The-Counter Medication

While it might be tempting to provide human over-the-counter medication to a limping dog, this is not advisable. Many human medicines can be harmful to dogs, so it’s always best to seek veterinary advice before administering any medication.

Additional Support

In cases of arthritis or hip dysplasia leading to limping, additional support may be needed. This might include the use of supportive devices like harnesses or wheelchairs, or dietary supplements to support joint health. Again, the guidance of a veterinarian is essential in these situations.

Chronic Limping and Degenerative Joint Disease In Dogs

Chronic limping that lasts for an extended period may be a sign of degenerative joint disease or unresolved trauma. In dogs, degenerative joint disease, also known as osteoarthritis, is a common condition that affects the joints, causing pain, inflammation, and stiffness.

This progressive disease occurs when the cartilage in the joints wears down over time, leading to the development of bony growths and the deterioration of joint function.

If your dog is experiencing chronic limping, it is crucial to seek veterinary care for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

A veterinarian will conduct a thorough physical examination, which may include radiographs (X-rays) or other diagnostic tests to assess the severity of the joint disease. Treatment options may include pain management, joint supplements, physical therapy, or in severe cases, surgery.

Signs of Degenerative Joint Disease in Dogs

  • Difficulty in getting up from a resting position
  • Limping or favoring one leg
  • Stiffness, especially after resting or in the morning
  • Reduction in mobility or activity levels
  • Swelling or heat around the joints
  • Pain when the joint is touched or moved
  • Changes in appetite or behavior due to discomfort
  • Difficulty with tasks such as climbing stairs or jumping into cars
  • Loss of muscle mass over the limbs and spine
  • Noticeable creaking or cracking sounds when the joints move.

Preventing Joint Disease and Managing Chronic Limping

While degenerative joint disease cannot be cured, there are steps you can take to manage your dog’s chronic limping and improve their quality of life.

Providing regular exercise to maintain muscle strength and joint mobility is crucial. However, it is important to choose low-impact activities to minimize stress on the joints.

  • Consider using joint supplements that contain ingredients like glucosamine and chondroitin, which can promote joint health and reduce inflammation.
  • Ensure your dog maintains a healthy weight to avoid additional stress on the joints. Obesity can worsen symptoms of joint disease.
  • Follow your veterinarian’s recommended treatment plan, including any prescribed medications or therapies.

“Chronic limping in dogs should never be ignored. Early detection and appropriate management can significantly improve their comfort and overall well-being.” – Dr. Smith, DVM

Signs to Look Out For When Your Dog Is Limping

When your dog is limping, it’s crucial to pay attention to any signs of discomfort or accompanying symptoms. Dogs are skilled at hiding pain, so it’s important to observe their behavior and look for subtle cues. Here are some signs to watch out for:

  • Changes in behavior: If your dog is suddenly more withdrawn, restless, or aggressive, it could be a sign of pain or discomfort.
  • Lack of appetite: Pain can often lead to a loss of appetite in dogs. If your dog is not eating as usual, it may indicate that they are in pain.
  • Licking or biting at the affected leg: Dogs may try to alleviate their pain by constantly licking or biting at the leg that is causing them discomfort.
  • Reluctance to put weight on the affected leg: If your dog is favoring one leg and avoiding putting weight on it, it’s a clear indication that they are experiencing pain.

These signs, along with the limping itself, can help you better understand the extent of your dog’s discomfort and guide you in seeking appropriate veterinary care.

When to Seek Veterinary Care For Limping Dog

If your dog is experiencing severe limping or has an ongoing condition, it’s time to seek veterinary care. Dogs are masters at hiding their pain, so it’s crucial to pay close attention to any signs of discomfort they may exhibit.

Mild limping may indicate a milder form of pain, while severe limping can be a sign of a more serious underlying condition. When in doubt, consulting a veterinarian is always the best course of action.

Common causes of limping in dogs can vary from paw injuries, such as cuts or foreign objects, to diseases, disorders, or even injury and trauma.

It’s important to consider all possibilities and seek the expertise of a veterinarian to determine the exact cause of your dog’s limping. They will conduct a thorough physical examination to provide a proper diagnosis.

Don’t fall prey to common myths about dog limping, such as assuming that a dog is not in pain just because they are acting normal or that their limp will resolve on its own.

Dogs are stoic creatures, and they may not show overt signs of pain despite their limping. Consulting a vet will ensure that your furry friend receives the necessary care and pain management.

Steps to Help Your Limping Dog

Helping a limping dog involves assessing the situation, providing immediate care, and seeking professional help if needed.

Assess the Situation

Start by observing your dog’s behavior and physical condition carefully. Look for signs of pain, discomfort, or any physical abnormalities like swelling or wounds. This can give you a clue about the reason for the limp.

Immediate Care

If the limp is due to a minor injury, such as a small cut or a foreign object in the paw, gently clean the wound with antibacterial soap and remove the foreign object if possible. If the limp seems to be due to over-exertion or strain, give your dog a few days of rest with minimal exercise. Avoid running, jumping, playing, and using the stairs.

Use of Heat and Cold

For inflammation, alternating between heat and ice packs can be very beneficial. Apply an ice pack on the affected area for at least 10 minutes to help with swelling, then switch to a warm compress to soothe the pain. This can be repeated several times throughout the day.

Home Remedies

Some home remedies, such as soaking your dog’s foot and leg in warm water containing plain Epsom salts, can help reduce swelling. Additionally, a thick paste of baking soda and water can also soothe the pain when applied to the site of injury.

Seek Veterinary Help

If the limping does not begin to improve within 24-48 hours, it’s important to seek veterinary assistance. Never give your dog over-the-counter medication intended for humans, as this can be harmful. A vet can provide appropriate treatment and medication based on your dog’s specific condition and needs.


Q: How can I tell which leg my dog is limping on?

A: To determine which leg your dog is limping on, you can observe their movement. Watch how they walk and which leg they either lift off the ground or put less weight on. You can also gently touch and inspect each leg for any signs of swelling, tenderness, or discomfort. However, if you’re having difficulty identifying the limping leg or if your dog seems to be in significant pain, it’s best to consult a veterinarian for a proper examination.

Q: What should I do if my dog is suddenly limping?

A: If your dog is suddenly limping, it’s important to assess the severity of the limping and monitor your dog for any signs of distress or worsening condition. If the limping is mild and your dog is still able to bear weight on the affected leg, you can try restricting their activity and providing them with a comfortable resting area. However, if the limping is severe, your dog is in pain, or you notice any other concerning symptoms, it’s best to seek veterinary care for a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Q: What are the common causes of sudden onset limping in dogs?

A: Sudden onset limping in dogs can be caused by various factors. Some common causes include sudden injuries or trauma, such as a fall or collision, as well as fractures or broken bones. Other possible causes include dislocations, sprains or strains, ligament injuries, and muscle or tendon tears. Infections, insect bites, and autoimmune diseases can also lead to sudden onset limping. If your dog is suddenly limping, it’s important to have them evaluated by a veterinarian to determine the underlying cause and provide appropriate treatment.

Q: How can a vet diagnose and treat my dog’s limping?

A: A veterinarian can diagnose your dog’s limping through a physical examination and possibly additional diagnostic tests. During the examination, the vet will observe your dog’s gait, check for pain or discomfort, and palpate the affected leg. They may also perform X-rays, blood tests, or joint fluid analysis to further evaluate the underlying cause of the limping. Once a diagnosis is made, the vet will develop a treatment plan tailored to your dog’s specific condition, which may include rest, medication, physical therapy, or in some cases, surgery.

Q: Can I give my dog pain medication for limping?

A: You should never give your dog over-the-counter pain medication without consulting a veterinarian first. Certain human pain medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), can be toxic to dogs and cause severe adverse effects. Your veterinarian will determine the appropriate pain medication for your dog based on their diagnosis and individual needs. It’s always best to seek professional veterinary advice before giving any medication to your dog.

Q: What are the possible causes of limping in a dog at home?

A: Limping in a dog at home can have various possible causes. These include injuries from accidents or falls, sprains or strains from overexertion or rough play, ligament injuries from sudden movements or twists, joint diseases such as arthritis or hip dysplasia, muscle or tendon injuries, and fractures or broken bones. It’s important to closely monitor your dog’s symptoms and behavior, and if the limping persists or worsens, consult with a veterinarian for a proper examination and diagnosis.

Conclusion and final thoughts

In conclusion, if you notice your dog limping on their back leg but not crying, it is vital to consult a veterinarian for a thorough examination and appropriate care.

Limping in dogs is a sign of pain, even if they are not vocalizing it. Dogs are skilled at hiding pain, so it is important to pay attention to signs of discomfort to ensure their well-being.

Mild limping may indicate a milder form of pain, while severe limping could be indicative of a more serious condition.

Acute limping, lasting less than two weeks, may be caused by minor injuries or irritation and can often be treated at home with rest, cold compresses, and over-the-counter pain medication suitable for dogs.

Please take the time and leave a comment below if this article helped you, or you have any additional questions.

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