Why is My Golden Retriever Limping? 5 Causes & Solutions


My 3 year old golden retriever was playing at the park with my kids and the next day I noticed that my dog started limping a little bit. And I asked my kids if something happened while playing, like an injury or something but they ensured me that he was fine.

 I got concerned and started doing my research, and I found some important information that helped me and I wanted to share it with you. 

Why is my golden retriever limping? Your golden retriever could be limping because of a foot issue. If you can’t find any marks, sores, blisters, or any sign of an injury, you need to take him to the vet because it could be a hip issue, tear on the joint, bone disease, or a much more serious problem like certain cancers.

Please keep reading to figure out what’s causing your dog’s limping. 

5 Causes why is my golden retriever limping

An image of a senior golden retriever walking to illustrate the possible answer to the reader question of why is my golden retriever limping

There are two types of problems that cause a dog’s limping; gradual and sudden. Gradual happens slowly and overtime. And it is caused by chronic, underlying or other conditions. Sudden limping is mostly caused by trauma or an injury and it could resolve by itself without taking your dog to the vet but let’s dig deeper and explore them together.

Here are the possible causes for your golden’s limping:

  • Injury and Traumas
  • HOD
  • Pano
  • Bone disease
  • Hip Dysplasia

Let’s discuss them one by one and see the possible treatments and what you can do to prevent it.

Injury and traumas

This can happen to any dog, not just your golden retriever, just like it could happen to any child that goes outside and plays. Accidents happen, that’s just how it is.

 In this case, it’s completely random. Injuries and traumas usually happen because of an accident like if your dog fell down from somewhere, something fell on them, or they got hit by a bike or something.

And of course, all of that leads to problems like broken bones, spinal injuries, dislocations, cuts, a tear on the joints, sprains, or an insect bite.

This is the cause of dogs limping, in like, 90% of the time. God knows how many times I have found their paws injured because they went into the woods chasing squirrels and got injured there. 

Treatment:

Treating your dog’s injuries depends on the severity of the injury. If the injury is not serious and your dog can let your touch them, you should clean it and put ice on it.

If the injury is serious, hurting them, or they get aggressive when you get close to them, you should take them to the vet where they will be able to take better care of it.

Prevention:

There is really no way to prevent this because you can’t stop your dog from playing and going out. but just keep an eye on him so he wouldn’t get hit by a bike or something.

HOD (Hypertrophic osteodystrophy):

Cause:

This is a bone disease that happens in the front legs. Your dog might have a fever in the front legs, has symmetrical lameness, or losing weight. This condition happens to the large breed puppies from two to eight months old.

Treatment:

Your vet will perform a complete physical exam. He could also recommend x-rays of the affected limbs. Treatments include an anti-inflammatory to help relieve pain and swelling in the joints, rest is really recommended and in a few weeks your puppy will get better.

Prevention:

Unfortunately, there’s no way to prevent this, it’s a genetic problem which can’t be prevented but fortunately, there’s a cure for that condition.

Pano:

Cause:

Pano is a Bone inflammation which is also known as growing pains. Bone inflammation mostly happens to puppies around six and nine months old.

 It could affect more than one bone at a time or it may move around causing a shifting lameness that goes from one bone to another. 

This disease affects rapidly growing puppies and it can happen in any breed. Mostly larger breeds. 

Dog breeds that are more prone include: 

  • Golden Retrievers
  • German shepherds( most common)
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Great Danes
  • Rottweilers
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • Basset Hounds.

Treatment : 

This disease is self-limiting and it will randomly resolve, during this, treatment is supportive and can make a difference. Your vet will recommend using anti-inflammatory drugs and pain medication.

Prevention :

Feed your puppies with the adult dog food as it contains lower levels of protein and calcium while also giving them more energy. 

Rapidly growing puppies need higher levels of energy to meet their growth needs. If you want to keep them on puppy food, you  will need to give them more of it. 

But the better option is to feed an affected dog a high-quality diet that has been specifically made for use in large breed puppies, to keep the dog in healthy body weight.

If you want to save yourself a lot of hassle, check out my recommended dog foods for golden retrievers at every age here.

Bone disease:

Cause:

This disease affects large breed puppies too, and it makes walking really hard for them.

It could also develop into other conditions such as osteosarcoma which is a type of cancer and hypertrophic osteodystrophy which makes walking very painful.

Treatment:

This condition requires taking your dog to the vet. The vet is the only one that can help your dog in this case.

Prevention:

You can prevent it by giving your dog vitamins supplements that contain glucosamine and chondroitin helps preventing further bone diseases and joint damage. Glucosamine helps in repairing body tissues such as cartilage and it also helps in reducing the pain. 

I do recommend checking with your doctor for the right dosage.

Hip Dysplasia: 

Cause:

This condition appears at a young age. And it only affects the rear legs. and there’s a couple of signs to notice if your dog has it or not for example your dog’s back legs won’t put on weight and your dog is going to use its hip.

Treatment: The treatment depends on your dog’s age and how bad the condition is. But here’s how you can help:

  1. Physical therapy. 
  2. Weight reduction to take stress off of the hips. 
  3. Joint supplements. 
  4. Exercise restriction (especially on hard surfaces). 
  5. Anti-inflammatory medications. 
  6. joint fluids modifiers.

Prevention: 

avoid exercising young and at-risk dogs and providing essential nutrient supplements and avoid neutering at risk puppies and last but not least ensuring the skeletal system grows properly, and follow the appropriate diet for your dog.

When should I take them to the vet?

If you notice any of the following signs, and especially if your dog displays more than one of those, it is highly recommended to grab the phone and make an appointment at your vet as soon as possible. 

  1. Obvious break. 
  2. Swelling. 
  3. Inability to put weight on the affected leg. 
  4. Dangling limp. 
  5. Other symptoms appear with the limping. 
  6. Hot limp

In some cases these signs don’t show and in this case the injury is internal and x-rays is the only way to find out what’s wrong and also a couple of tests depend on the problem.

Related questions

What should I do if my dog is limping?

Dogs can be limping for many reasons but most of them aren’t critical and there would be no outer signs in most cases, so you need to keep your dog calm and try to make him stay still and help him to rest and do not move him unless it’s really necessary like taking him to his vet.

What are the signs of my dog being in pain?

  1. Increased breathing rate
  2. Anxiety
  3. Trembling
  4. Agitation
  5. Increase heart rate
  6. Restlessness
  7. Vocalization
  8. Reduced Appetite
  9. Depression
  10. Laziness or reluctance to move

PS. it’s not necessary for your dog to have all of the signs he might just have one sign or a few signs.

If your dog is lazy and you don’t know why, check out my post on the possible causes your golden retriever is lazy here. I included solutions to every cause, of course, so give it a read.

My dog is limping but doesn’t seem to be in pain?

Dogs can’t show when they’re in pain unlike us but if your dog is limping, he is in pain.

That’s why he is limping, something is making him uncomfortable. And he could be limping because of a paw injury as he stepped on glass or something sharp so he is injured, or it’s an illness.

Sources: 

Panosteitis in Dogs 

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