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What Should We Do If a Dog Refuses to Place Weight on a Stepped-On Foot?


Dear VetBabble,

I recently noticed that my grandparent’s dog got her foot stepped on, and now she refuses to place any weight on it. What should we do? Should we wait for a few hours to see if it improves, or should we seek veterinary advice right away for treatment and diagnostics?

Understanding Causes of Limping in Dogs

It is essential to understand why a dog might be limping, and whether or not it is a cause for concern. In many cases, our canine companions may experience temporary discomfort after a minor injury, but then begin to bounce back after a short time. However, there may be instances where seeking immediate veterinary assistance may be necessary. We recommend checking out our article on Why Is My Dog Limping? When to Worry and What to Do to help you understand when and why limping occurs in dogs.

Possible Causes and First Aid

When a dog is limping, a few potential causes may be due to broken nails, surface wounds or bruises, and sometimes more severe issues like fractures or arthritis. Before deciding if you should give it a few hours or seek immediate professional help, it’s important to carefully examine the dog’s affected foot, leg, and gait. Identifying any external injuries or abnormalities, such as nail damage or bleeding, will help you decide how to address the issue. Our article on How to Prevent and Treat a Broken Nail on a Dog can help you recognize and manage such problems.

If you notice any open wounds or cuts, you can begin with basic at-home wound care before heading to the vet. Our helpful article, How to Treat your Dog’s Wounds at Home, provides a step-by-step guide on safely attending to your dog’s injuries, which could potentially help you avoid an unnecessary trip to the vet. Remember, if you’re dealing with a severe or deep wound, consult your veterinarian as soon as possible.

When to Consult a Veterinarian

In cases where the underlying issue is not clear, the dog may require a thorough examination and diagnostics to determine the cause of the limp. If you notice the limp persisting, a sudden decrease in mobility, or if pain, swelling, or inflammation becomes evident, seek the advice of your veterinarian right away. They will be able to recommend appropriate pain medication, anti-inflammatory drugs, and assess the need for imaging, such as x-rays, to determine if your dog’s limping is due to broken bones or soft tissue damage.

It’s crucial not to overlook the possibility of arthritis, as age and wear can lead to degenerative joint conditions in older dogs. If you suspect your grandparent’s dog might be experiencing symptoms of arthritis, it’s best to consult your veterinarian to discuss further diagnostics and treatment options. To learn more about this, take a moment to read our article on Arthritis in Dogs.

In summary, closely observe the dog’s limping situation and consider administering first aid and at-home treatments for minor injuries if applicable. If the limp persists, you notice additional concerning symptoms, or suspect that the source of the issue is more serious, consult your veterinarian to avoid further complications or delays in healing. Remember, each situation is unique, and consulting a professional is always the safest route when dealing with your furry friend’s health.

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