Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Limping/ Lameness (Dog Tips & More)

Yesterday, I found my dog limping. He looked like a hopping tripod. And yet, even with the sore leg, he still approached me with his body resting on my angled leg. I couldn't help but pat him and give him his favorite body rub to make him feel better. Most of the time, the term limping is hardly used. Most vets and books call it lameness rather than limping.

When this happens to your dog, try not to panic. The first thing you need to check is if there's bleeding or blood on the area where your dog is. The reason why this is important is so that you could narrow down the cause of his limping. He may have something stuck on his paw, a broken nail, a wound or a sprain. A bad fracture can also cause limping, and you have to especially be careful with those.

Here are some things you'll need to check first.

Paws: See if your pooch has a cut foot pad, broken nails, a thorn or broken glass stuck in his paw pad. Also check for gum or other sticky objects that are difficult to remove.

Thorns: If you see a thorn or any sharp object embedded in his paw, try to gently remove it. DON'T FORGET TO MUZZLE HIM FIRST. But if after inspection, you might feel that the cut is too deep, it's always a better option to bring him to the vet rather than play doctor. It may have punctured an artery.

War Wounds: Although cats are more territorial than dogs, seeing dogs fight against each other is nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, that's the reason why my dog got limp in the first place. If your pet comes home limping, see if he has bite or puncture wounds. Once apparent, clean it with soap and water.

Fracture: If you suspect that your pet has a fracture, the most important thing to do is to create an emergency splint to keep it immobilized. Let me just emphasize the term EMERGENCY. Some people assume that just because they have splints previously used for other pets, it can be used on all pets with broken bones. A fracture mostly requires professional help as you don't have x-ray vision nor the proper tools/ materials to help hasten the healing process.

The most widely used emergency splints are the infamous toilet cardboard tube and the "Robert Jones" bandage. The toilet paper roll tube is mostly used on cats and puppies. Always remember to cut it to the size of the leg. After slipping it on the injured leg, use tape to hold it securely in place.

A "Robert Jones" bandage is made of a thick first aid cotton roll. First, unroll it and wrap the leg in as much cotton as you can. Secure your roll by putting an elastic bandage around it. Try not to use tape as it doesn't stick to cotton.

If you don't have any of those two above, try creating a roll with a newspaper and slip your pets leg gently in it. Make sure to use tape to seal the tube snugly on his injured leg.

Lastly, in cases you don't have any of those materials, don't waste time creating the splint. Splinted or not, what's important is to carefully pick your pet up while making it a point to keep his injured leg immobile. Bring him to the vet as soon as possible.

Strained Muscles: The most visible indication of a strained muscle or a sprain would be a swollen leg. To do so, compare it with the other leg to see if it is larger.

Another telltale sign would be Fido always in a guarding stance or defensive position. They will noticeably retract their hurting arm once a person approaches them.

Dos and Don'ts

Seeing your pet is limp, give him some time to rest. He needs to heal his injury so postponing the walk for awhile would be for the best in the mean time.

Give the limping a grace period of 48 to 72 hours. If it still persist without improvement, that's the go signal to see the vet. This grace period is also applicable to how long your dog should rest from his regular walking regimen.

Hot Compress or Cold Compress. Like people with strained muscles, applying cold compress can reduce the swelling and relieve the muscle pain. A cold pack can be used for 5 to 10 minutes, at least 5 times a day.

Placing a hot pack can also be as soothing. However, make sure that it's not too hot as it may cause burns. Try to wrap it in cloth or a towel before applying it to the dog's leg. Never place it directly on your pooch's injury.

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