It’s hard enough to tell when your pet is in pain, let alone if they are limping and don’t cry about it.
Reasons Why Dogs Might Limp But Not Cry
Dogs can limp for a variety of reasons.
They might have a sprained ankle, torn ligaments, or broken bones, which would cause them to limp on their leg.
However, dogs also have a tendency to limp due to minor injuries that aren’t life threatening.
Here are some common reasons why dogs might limp but not cry.
- Mild Injuries – A dog could have a mild sprain or strain, such as a pulled muscle or torn tendon, which wouldn’t make them cry out with pain. This type of injury isn’t serious enough for your dog to need immediate medical attention. Instead, you should keep an eye on how your dog is doing after several days, and consult your veterinarian if he seems to be in pain.
- Arthritis – Arthritis is a condition where your dog’s joints become inflamed and painful. Your dog will limp because his legs hurt from the inflammation, which makes it difficult for him to walk normally. You should see your veterinarian immediately if your dog starts limping and not crying. They can usually give your dog an injection to help ease the pain, and then prescribe anti-inflammatory medication until his symptoms go away.
- Bones – Bones can break without warning, especially if your dog has old age or certain genetic disorders. A broken bone will often cause your dog to limp, but this won’t necessarily mean that he is in pain. The pain comes from the blood draining from the area where the fracture occurred, so your dog will start limping before it actually hurts him. He’ll probably yelp as well, which is different than him not making any noise at all.
- Joint Pain – Joint pain can happen because of overuse (such as running), poor posture, or even aging. There are many types of joint pain, but most of them don’t cause your dog to limp unless he is extremely uncomfortable. However, if he is limping and screaming, then he may have injured his knee, elbow, or hip.
- Paw Problems – A sore paw doesn’t always mean that your dog is sick. There are many ailments that can affect your dog’s paws, including gout, infections, and arthritis. Most of these conditions would make your dog’s paw swell up, causing him to limp while walking. Sore paws are generally accompanied by a high fever, though, so if your dog is limping and not crying, he should be taken to the vet immediately.
- Other Causes – Your dog might limp due to other causes besides the ones listed above. For example, it could be due to an infection or tumor in the foot or leg. These conditions can cause your dog to limp, but they don’t typically make him scream like he’s in pain. If your dog limps and cries, he definitely needs to be seen by a veterinarian ASAP.
Is It Serious? When to Worry
Dogs can go through a lot of things that seem minor at first, but are actually very serious.
They might limp or have trouble walking without complaining, but those symptoms could also mean something else entirely.
You want to know what is going on with your beloved pooch before he gets hurt worse than he already is.
Here are some of the most common causes of a limp or lack of movement in a dog, along with when to worry and how to examine your dog.
Patellar luxation (knee joint)
One of the most common causes of a limp in dogs is arthritis.
Arthritis is caused by a buildup of calcium and other materials inside the joints.
This buildup makes the bones stiff and painful, which hurts the dog’s ability to move around.
The most common locations for this type of arthritis include the hips, elbows, and knees, but any joint can become affected.
If your dog has developed arthritis in the past, it will show up as a limp.
You can also see signs of arthritis in younger dogs.
Even though arthritis is more common in older dogs, it can affect young adults and puppies as well.
There are many different types of arthritis, so there is no way to diagnose it without a thorough examination and X-rays.
The good news is that there are several treatments available for dogs with arthritis, including NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), steroids, and acupuncture.
These medications help relieve the pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.
A veterinarian can prescribe a steroid injection to reduce swelling and inflammation, and acupuncture can provide relief from stiffness and pain.
Diseases can cause infections in both humans and animals.
Infectious diseases are usually spread from one person to another, or from animals to people.
Some of these diseases are transmitted via contact between people, while others are spread by the air we breathe.
Dogs are susceptible to respiratory illnesses like kennel cough, parvovirus, and influenza.
Dogs can also catch infectious diseases from their owners.
For example, fleas can carry tapeworms and lice, and ticks can carry Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and tularemia.
All of these diseases can be prevented by regular flea control and tick removal.
When your dog starts showing signs of infection, such as lethargy, loss of appetite, coughing, diarrhea, vomiting, or difficulty breathing, contact your veterinarian immediately.
Antibiotic treatment is often necessary to treat infections in dogs, and if the infection is severe enough, it can lead to death.
Patellar Luxation (Knee Joint)
A patellar luxation occurs when the knee cap detaches from the femur during normal motion.
This condition is relatively rare in dogs, but it does occur.
Patellar luxation is almost always associated with physical trauma to the animal.
Trauma can range from car accidents to dog fights, and it can happen anytime after the age of six months.
This condition is typically diagnosed using radiographs, which show the position of the patella.
In the case of patellar luxation, the patella becomes dislodged and lies outside of its normal location.
This abnormal positioning can cause pain and lameness in the area where the leg meets the body.
Often times, this condition requires surgery to repair the damaged ligaments.
You probably think of cuts as being superficial injuries.
However, lacerations are anything but superficial — they can involve deep tissue damage.
Lacerations can occur anywhere on your dog’s body, but they are most commonly found on the head, neck, forelegs, hind legs, and tail.
These wounds can leave behind scars that are difficult to hide, especially if they are located on sensitive areas.
Scars can be painful, and they can also make it harder for your dog to walk normally.
Contact your veterinarian right away if your dog shows any sign of a laceration.
Most tumors are benign (i.e., noncancerous).
However, some tumors can be cancerous, and if left untreated, they can grow and destroy vital organs.
While most small tumors in dogs are harmless, larger tumors can be life threatening.
Tumors can be found anywhere on the body, but they are most frequently found on the skin, mouth, nose, eyes, genitals, and rectum.
The best way to find out if your dog has a tumor is to perform a full body exam.
If you notice any unusual growths or bumps, contact your veterinarian immediately.
He can use a variety of tests to determine whether or not a tumor exists.
Damage to nerves is called neuropathy, and it can occur in a variety of ways.
Nerve damage can happen gradually over time, or it can be caused by a sudden traumatic event.
One of the most common forms of nerve damage is caused by spinal cord injury.
This type of nerve damage can result in paralysis.
Other types of nerve damage can affect the muscles involved in chewing, urination, defecating, and swallowing.
Neuropathy can be treated by prescribing medications to slow down the progression of the problem, and it can also be helped by massage therapy.
Neuropathy is not a life-threatening condition, but it can be extremely debilitating.
Cancers are relatively uncommon in dogs, but they do exist.
Fortunately, many of them are curable, and early detection can save lives.
Certain breeds are more prone to certain cancers, however.
Pit bull terriers are more likely to develop hemangiosarcomas, and golden retrievers are more likely to develop soft tissue sarcomas.
Many kinds of cancer are treatable, but sometimes, the cancer spreads beyond the original site.
Bladder stones are small pieces of bladder tissue that form within the bladder wall.
Bladder stones are usually detected during routine examinations, although they can also be found accidentally during bloodwork or urine analysis.
Most bladder stones are easily treated with medication, although some require surgery.
Kidneys are responsible for filtering waste products from our bodies.
When kidneys fail, waste products build up in the blood and can eventually cause serious health issues.
Kidney failure can be caused by a variety of factors, including congenital defects, kidney infections, and kidney tumors.
Once again, pets are at risk for developing kidney disease, and they can experience this condition at any age.
Symptoms of kidney disease include weakness, thirstiness, poor appetite, weight loss, vomiting, and bloody urine.
If you suspect your dog has kidney disease, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Early diagnosis is key to treating kidney disease, and treatment includes medication to prevent further damage to the kidneys and dialysis to replace the function of failed kidneys.
Your heart pumps blood throughout your entire body, and it is responsible for keeping you alive.
Heart problems can cause a wide variety of symptoms, including rapid heartbeat, palpitations, shortness of breath, and chest pains.
Sometimes, heart problems are silent, and they only surface after a major accident or stressful situation.
Some heart conditions are easy to detect, such as valvular heart disease, cardiomyopathy, and congenital heart abnormalities.
Others, like coronary artery disease and hypertension, are less obvious. Still other heart problems, such as arrhythmia, aren’t visible at all.
How to Examine Your Dog
Take a look at your dog’s gait.
Does she limp?
Has her walk suddenly changed?
Do her legs drag behind her?
Are her feet cold?
Other symptoms that might indicate something more serious than a minor injury include:
Lack of appetite
Excessive licking or chewing on paw
Sudden loss of interest in playing
Apparent reluctance or unwillingness to move around
Inability to stand up
(Photo by Michael D. Roberts)
If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s time to bring your dog to the veterinarian.
We all know that our dogs can sometimes limp due to injuries, arthritis, or other issues, but what about those times where their leg doesn’t hurt at all?
It could be that they are simply limping because they have been walking on a particularly rough patch of ground, or maybe they are just trying to stretch out their legs.
If your dog has been limping for longer than 24 hours without any signs of discomfort, then you will need to consult a vet as soon as possible.
Possible Causes of Lameness with No Crying
There are some serious health conditions that can go undiagnosed for this long, so you need to make sure that your dog isn’t suffering from anything more serious than a simple case of soreness.
There are also some common causes of lameness that you should consider before taking your dog to the vet, which include:
- Foreign body lodged in joint
- Degenerative disc disease (DDD)
- Neurological disorder
- Other orthopedic disorders
- Congenital defects
- Osteochondrosis dissecans (OCD) – a condition caused by abnormal growth of cartilage at the end of bones
Some of these diseases can be difficult to diagnose, especially if the dog doesn’t show any symptoms.
For example, OCD is often mistaken for a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), but it is actually a different condition altogether.
The most effective way to diagnose a problem like DDD is through radiographs.
X-rays allow the vet to see bone and cartilage damage, while CT scans are able to distinguish between normal cartilage and the abnormal growth of cartilage that comes with OCD.
This means that your vet can use x-rays, ultrasound, and CT scans to determine whether your dog is suffering from one of these conditions.
If your dog does have a painful ailment, then you want to treat them right away.
You should never put off going to the vet, as the longer you wait, the more severe the issue becomes.
The same goes for treating the underlying cause of your dog’s lameness.
You should always start treatment as soon as possible after diagnosing your dog’s condition, and there are several ways to do so.
Treatment for Dogs That Limp But Don’t Cry
It’s hard enough to tell when your pet is in pain, let alone if they are limping and don’t cry about it.
If your dog is limping but not crying, it’s likely not in too much pain, but you should still take him to the vet to get checked out.
The symptoms that your dog presents with could indicate anything from a minor injury to something more serious like cancer.
It’s important to have your dog examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible to find out what is going on with their limb.
The sooner you can rule out a medical issue, the better off your dog will be because you can start treating it immediately rather than waiting until it has become worse.
So how do you know if your dog needs to see the vet?
Well, there are some common signs that are usually accompanied by a limp and no crying.
Here are some of those signs:
- Your dog is limping but not crying – this is very typical with dogs who have been injured. They might be limping around without any sign of pain at all, or they might be whimpering a little bit which indicates that they are in moderate pain.
- Your dog is limping and whining – this is also pretty typical with dogs who have been hurt. They might be limping around with their head down so they are obviously in pain but are not making a sound.
- Your dog is limping and doesn’t want to walk anymore – this is a good indicator that your dog is hurt. They might be limping around and won’t even try to move their leg. Or they might be limping around and refuse to be touched in order to avoid pain.
- Your dog is limping and seems stiff – this is another good indication that your dog has been hurt. They might be limping around and seem stiff, or they might be limping around and appear to be in extreme pain. You need to pay close attention to them and make sure they are okay.
- Your dog is limping and can barely stand up – this is one of the most severe cases of lameness that you could possibly encounter. This means that your dog is suffering from a major injury that requires immediate veterinary care.
Now that we have discussed some of the signs that you should look out for, here are some treatment options for dogs that limp but don’t cry:
Prevention of Lameness in Dogs Preventative care is very important to ensure that your dog stays healthy and happy.
There are many factors that can contribute to lameness in dogs, such as over-grooming, poor diet, lack of exercise, or environmental factors like cold weather, humidity, or heat.
However, there are also some conditions that are beyond our control and we will never know until they happen.
So how do we prevent lameness?
Lameness prevention starts with proper nutrition.
A balanced diet consisting of high quality protein sources, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants helps keep your dog’s joints healthy.
Your veterinarian can help determine what type of diet is appropriate for your particular dog.
You should also make sure that they have plenty of fresh water at all times.
While most dogs are fine drinking from their bowls, make sure that they are always drinking from a clean bowl and not a puddle or other source of contamination.
This is especially important for dogs whose owners live in areas prone to flooding.
Another common cause of lameness is environmental factors.
If your dog has been outside during inclement weather (rainy days, snow, etc.), then he may be suffering from exposure to rain, snow, or ice.
In these instances, it is best to apply an anti-freeze spray to his paws before heading back inside.
Also, avoid exposing them to extreme temperatures.
Even though it might feel warm outside, your dog could get frostbite on their feet if he spends too long standing outside without proper protection.
Finally, make sure that your dog gets lots of rest and exercise.
It’s not uncommon for a dog to become tired after spending time outdoors, so make sure he gets plenty of playtime during the day and a good night’s sleep.
Finally, if your dog has recently had surgery, it’s important to give them adequate recovery time afterwards.
Just because they look fine now doesn’t mean that they won’t suffer any lasting effects down the road.
Make sure to follow up with your vet regularly to check in