I have a 2 yr old female spayed Sheltie who developed a slight limp in her right front leg when only a few months old. I assumed it was from a sprain since she ran and played vigorously in my large yard. But the dog limp never went away, and now, as young as she is, she walks like an oldster, slowly and somewhat stiffly, though she can run short distances when excited.
She gets up from her bed stiffly too, and the way she holds her back legs slightly under her reminds me of dogs with hip dysplasia that I saw when working at a vet clinic. Is this possible, given her age and breed? Xrays are a last resort due to the expense. Any advice would be appreciated.
Answer from the Dog Health Guide editor
Thank you for your Question regarding a dog limp and canine hip dysplasia.
Canine musculoskeletal problems can occur in any dog, irrelevant of sex or breed. It is considered that older dogs are more exposed to any risk due to muscular or skeletal weakness. Young dogs are energetic and love to run and play, so they can certainly develop a musculoskeletal problem.
Your dog is probably experiencing a limp that is the result of a front leg sprain. When a sprain is not immediately cared for, it could lead over time to weakness and deficiency of the musculoskeletal system as a whole.
As for the chance of dog hip dysplasia causing the problem, it might be too early to suggest this as the cause. Before going for an X-Ray, you can look for symptoms associated with this condition. Other then general symptoms of limp, abnormal gait, reduced activity and pain, specific symptoms should be noted. Dogs with hip dysplasia experience severe pain while they walk or
run. Similarly, there are signs of a lack of coordination among both hind limbs when walking. You should notice that the space between the hind limbs appears to be wider then normal.
Another condition that is specific to canine hip dysplasia is muscular degeneration. Thigh muscles of one or both legs will appear atrophic or wasting away and with time they degenerate. Note any change in the habits of your dog. If your dog does not want to take part in long periods of exercise and shows a reluctance to climb inclined and/or elevated places such as stairs and furniture, along with the signs mentioned above, then it is right to suspect that the problem is dog hip dysplasia. An X-Ray is the only tool available for confirming this condition.
In my opinion, you should immediately consult a veterinarian regarding earlier symptoms and this problem. A veterinarian will do a thorough clinical examination which would suggest whether this condition can be treated through the use of drugs or surgery. If it is a progressive deformity of the musculoskeletal organs, your dog could end up with irrecoverable degeneration if left untreated. Try to keep your dog away from climbing up to elevated places and if possible, try to only engage her in very mild exercises. Do not let her run for a long period of time.
Until you receive confirmation of the condition, you should use musculoskeletal supplements (Contains Minerals, Vitamins and Enzymes) and natural remedies (Contains natural soothing ingredients), which will help to reduce any symptoms and could help to reduce the chance of any degeneration. These supplements and remedies will also be required during any specific treatment prescribed by your veterinarian to reduce symptoms.