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Sometimes the hardest thing to diagnose is problems with a dog's feet, legs and joints. A dog that wakes up in the morning stiff and walking with a limp may be perfectly fine by lunch time. The dog owner and the veterinarian have to be keen observers since the dog can't tell them -- with words, anyway -- how he/she is feeling. Because of this inherent problem with communication, the safest thing for any dog owner to do when he/she notices the dog limping is to take it to the vet and get it checked out. Be observant and tell the vet everything you have noticed your dog doing.
For example, if your dog appears to be jumping a bit when he/she walks, there may be damage to the superior articulations. A dog that doesn't want to put weight on a leg may have a fracture. And a dog that puts his leg down very slowly may have a wound of some type. Sensitivity to injuries of the bone also vary by breed; greyhounds, Chihuahuas and Maltese 'feel' these injuries with greater intensity. If you think your dog has been injured, get help before you examine him yourself. Consider a muzzle; he/she may accidentally bite you if your movements cause him/her pain. Ultimately, take the dog to the vet to get the proper care that he/she needs.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|