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Lameness is a very common and large ranging topic. A little like many of our other “illness” signs, however, you don’t necessarily need to rush to see your vet at the first sign of  lameness.

If one day you find your pet struggling a little in one leg, and there has been no history of a problem on that leg, so long as it is not severe and distressing for the pet, then a wait and see approach is fine. Give them a day or maybe 2 and see if it settles down. Always have a look and feel up and down the leg yourself however, as occasionally you may find a significant problem that needs immediate attention. It’s amazing how often people find a large cut inside the leg that isn’t bleeding, or a swelling such as an abscess, or even a lump that may be a tumour.

If, however, your pet is quite happy and you cant find anything obvious yourself, then give them 24 hours and see what happens. Just like us, pets can often just bruise their foot, or strain a muscle or tendon that may be right the next day.

If on the other hand you discover something of concern, or in fact they’re no better the next day, then of course you should see your vet.

Here is a list of some common causes of lameness:

  • Strained muscles and tendons
  • Fractures
  • Arthritis
  • Congenital conditions such as elbow dysplasia
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Ruptured cruciate
  • Luxating patellas (Knee caps)
  • Abscess (cats)
  • Cellulitis (cats)
  • Cancer


Give your pet 24 hrs if there are no obvious concerns, if lameness persists then see your vet.

If there is a history of “subtle” lameness that seems to keep recurring every few weeks or even months, then these lameness should be examined and worked up. For instance, in young dogs this can be a sign of congenital problems such as elbow or hip dysplasia, and early intervention can have much better results. For older dogs then arthritis and cancer are of more concern.

Click here to read our article on “The Limping Dog – 10 Most Common Causes of Lameness”