It’s best to make an appointment with your vet or emergency clinic at your earliest convenience if your dog is limping. Before you visit, they may be able to make recommendations for ways to treat your dog at home or help your dog feel more comfortable until you can get them to the vet.
In the meantime, do your best to keep your dog comfortable. If your dog has a visible wound, you could ask your vet if it makes sense to apply a bandage.
If there isn’t a visible injury, your vet may recommend applying a cold compress to the injured area for 24 hours, then switch to heat.2 This can help relieve pain and reduce swelling. Also, monitor them to see if their pain gets worse, and keep an eye out for signs of infection like a fever or a decrease in appetite.
No pet owner wants their dog to suffer, but acetaminophen, ibuprofen or other pain relief medications meant for humans may be toxic for dogs. Instead, it’s recommended to consult your vet. They may be able to recommend pain medications that are safe for your dog.
If your dog has a splinter or other object embedded in their skin, it may be tempting to take it out, but you’re usually better off leaving it and letting your vet know. Trying to remove an object embedded in your dog’s paw or leg may simply spread the infection or make it harder for your vet to remove the object later. Also, even the gentlest, best-behaved dogs may become agitated if they’re in pain, and may attempt to bite you if you try to remove the object yourself.
If your dog’s limp does not resolve on its own, it’s a good idea to get things checked out. It’s highly recommended to immediately go to the vet if you notice swelling, if there is an obvious break, or if your dog’s leg feels hot to the touch.
If you’re planning to take your dog to the vet, do your best to keep them off their injured leg or paw. If you can carry your dog, do so while supporting their head and hips. When you get them to your vehicle, lay the dog down with the injured leg up.
For larger dogs that can walk on three legs, help support them as best as you can while getting them into your vehicle. If they can’t walk, you may be able to use a heavy-duty blanket or tarp as a sling. Don’t try to lift them alone and ask for help when you get to the vet’s office.
When you go to the vet, you will typically pay the cost of the office visit ranging from $50 – $250, depending on your vet. X-rays, bloodwork, and other diagnostic costs could add at least a few hundred dollars to your total.
After that, the costs will depend on the treatment recommended by your vet.
If your dog has a broken bone, injured joint, or damaged ligament, treatment may be as simple as providing your dog with a cast, leg brace, or harness to help with mobility. This keeps the leg stable allowing them to heal on their own. According to PetKeen, this could cost up to $1,000 depending on the injury, the size of your dog, and other factors.3 This also assumes that your dog doesn’t require surgery.
If your dog needs surgery, the severity of the injury or issue and the age and size of your dog may determine the necessary treatment and the resulting cost. Some examples of surgeries may include:
Depending on what is going on, your dog could need pain medication, physical therapy, or alternative therapies.
Hopefully, your dog will be walking and running for all of their lives. But if they do start limping, it could become very expensive. That’s where dog insurance can help. Your insurance plan may help cover expenses like vet visits, casts and leg braces, surgery, and even alternative treatment that can help your dog recuperate faster.5,6 To find out more, get a quote today.