From making mad dashes off your bed to rounding corners like a sports car, dogs have some reckless tendencies. Leg injuries, both minor and serious, come with the territory. Your canine buddy will let you know if something's wrong, usually in the form of lethargic behavior or keeping the problem area protected.
Leg Licking and Sensitivity
When dogs feel something wrong with a part of their body, their first response is to try to heal it with their tongue. While external wounds are usually best for tongue treatments, your dog may also try the remedy for internal leg problems. If you try to check out what's wrong by touching the problem area, he'll likely pull away if he's injured. Avoid applying more than gentle pressure and let him take away his leg if he wants.
Limping and Swelling
Aside from when they're worn out, dogs are usually full speed ahead. If your pup suddenly favors one leg over the others by dragging it along or putting little pressure on it, that's a key sign something isn't feeling right to him. He may also squat strangely when relieving himself. If the lameness doesn't occur all the time, that's usually an indication some type of physical activity is causing the issue. Try to pinpoint when he favors the problem leg so you'll have more information to give your vet. If the leg appears swollen, that's often an indicator that he's suffered an injury, but water retention can also cause legs to appear swollen.
If your dog goes from Superman to super lazy in the blink of an eye, something's wrong. If other leg injury symptoms accompany his sudden lack of energy, such as lameness or leg sensitivity, that's usually a good sign something's affecting his stride. If he's sluggish without any other symptoms, he may be suffering from another medical condition.
Your dog's paws are hardy and durable. And it's a good thing too, with all the sticks, stones and other objects he steps on throughout the day. But sometimes, sharp debris or a thorn can get stuck in your pup's paw or slice one of the pads. Symptoms similar to a leg injury will result, except your four-legged friend will lick his paw instead of his leg. A quick inspection of his pads can confirm or rule out a paw injury.
Head to the Vet
The best treatment you can give your dog if you suspect he has a leg injury is to take him to your vet if the symptoms continue for more than 24 hours. Unlike watery eyes or the occasional bout of diarrhea, leg injuries require the attention of a professional. Trying to diagnose the injury or treat it can cause the problem to worsen. Avoid forcing your dog to walk it off or to exercise if you suspect something's wrong. WebMD recommends applying an ice pack for about 15 minutes at a time and three times a day for the first 24 hours after symptoms appear to relieve swelling and pain.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Located in Pittsburgh, Chris Miksen has been writing instructional articles on a wide range of topics for online publications since 2007. He currently owns and operates a vending business. Miksen has written a variety of technical and business articles throughout his writing career. He studied journalism at the Community College of Allegheny County.