Is Your Dog or Cat Limping?

Your pet comes inside from a trip outdoors and you suddenly see your dog or cat limping. Now what? Sometimes, it’s just a bruise or he twisted a leg and it can be treated at home.  Other times, it can be as serious as a broken bone or damaged ligaments in the knee.

If your pet won't use the leg at all, you notice severe swelling, or your limping cat or dog is lethargic, not eating well or is in pain a visit to your vet is needed. The vet can make sure it’s nothing serious.

Cat or Dog Favoring Leg

Cat Favoring Leg

If you notice your dog or cat limping, be sure to let him rest the leg while at home.  That means no running, jumping or playing. For dogs, take them outside only on a leash. In the house lift him up, and down, to/from furniture. If he seems to be improving, and not getting worse, he can rest for a few days to a week.   

Cats often do best when confined to a single area of your home with limited jumping or climbing surfaces, such as a kitchen, bathroom, a bedroom with only a mattress on the floor, or even a playpen with a "roof".

Pain Medicine

NEVER give any pain medicine to a limping cat or dog (especially cats) without calling a vet first. Cats especially are extremely sensitive and often have severe, even fatal reactions. Most human pain medicines should not be given to dogs either. Dogs don’t metabolize the drugs the same way people do. That means they are much more likely to have side effects and problems. Some of these human meds can be deadly to both dogs and cats.

If you feel your dog or cat limping is serious enough to need medication, it would be best to have them examine by a vet to determine the cause of the limping, and get a prescription for the discomfort. 

Don’t give aspirin to dogs with bleeding problems, GI problems, asthma, or another disease; especially liver and kidney disease. Don’t use it if your dog is taking any other drug. Make sure you call your vet if you are considering this to get the correct dose.  Sometimes just one tablet is enough to cause severe side effects! Dogs are more sensitive to GI bleeding compared to humans. If you give your dog aspirin and he starts vomiting, having diarrhea or doesn’t want to eat - stop it immediately. If you are going to give it, be sure to give buffered or enteric-coated aspirin. As you can see, aspirin is not a completely safe drug.

What's Next?

If your limping cat or dog seems to get worse instead of better, or he’s not better within a week, have your pet examined.

All articles are reviewed and maintained by whiskerDocs team of veterinary experts.

whiskerDocs' content is for informational purposes only. Read our Terms.