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9 Real Reasons Australian Shepherds Limp + Helpful Tips

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Whenever you see your australian shepherd limp it can be quite alarming. You know they’re only doing it because something’s bothering them but you’re not sure what.

Is it normal for australian shepherds to limp every now and then or is something wrong?

Why Is My Australian Shepherd Limping:

The reason your australian shepherd is limping largely depends on their age as well as their activity levels recently. If your australian shepherd is moving into their senior years their limping could be because of their joints degenerating. They could also have a paw injury or infection.

In this post you’ll discover:

  • 9 reasons why australian shepherds start limping
  • When your australian shepherds limping is something to worry about
  • 4 tips to help with your australian shepherd’s limping 
  • And much more

Let’s jump right in.

9 Reasons Why Australian Shepherds Limp

1) Bone Fracture

Fractures most commonly happen when a puppy is growing or if something landed on your aussies paw.

If your australian shepherd is a young pup and their bones are growing rapidly the new bone that’s forming has natural weak spots.

Which means if they get too rambunctious or are rough housing, there’s a chance a bone in their leg could fracture because of the weak points during their growth spurt.

Also, if your australian shepherd is limping recently and they had something fall on their paw, it may have fractured something.

You may have seen something fall on their paw or it could have happened when you weren’t home.

But if something heavy enough fell and landed on their paw and they’re limping now, it could be a bone fracture.

[Nothing brings peace of mind quite like speaking with a vet – click here to chat with a vet online now]

2) Hip & Elbow Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a condition that’s seen in many different breeds of dogs and it’s where the hip joint doesn’t develop correctly.

This can lead to pain and lameness in the hind legs as your aussie gets older.

Elbow dysplasia is another condition where the elbow joint doesn’t develop correctly.

Which can also lead to lameness but in your aussies front legs.

Both of these conditions can cause limping in your australian shepherd, so if you’re seeing them limp and they’re getting older, it’s best to get them checked out by a vet.

They may need medication or surgery to help alleviate the pain and help them live a comfortable life.

Related Reading: 12 Best Dog Beds for Hip Dysplasia: Features, Durability & Comfort

3) Arthritis

Arthritis is a common condition in older australian shepherds, and dogs in general, and it’s when their joints start to degenerate.

This can cause pain and stiffness in your aussies joints which can lead to limping.

If you notice your australian shepherd is limping more after lying down for a long period of time, it could be arthritis.

Most dogs will experience some form of arthritis by the time they reach 12 years old.

So if your aussie is getting into their senior years their limping could be caused by their joints beginning to degenerate.

4) Dislocation

Dislocations can happen when your australian shepherd twists their leg in an awkward way or jumps from a high place.

If you see your aussie limping and they’re not putting any weight on their hind legs, it’s possible that they’ve dislocated their hip, knee or ankle.

This is something you’ll have to take them to the vet for as they’ll need to be put under anesthesia in order to relocate the joint.

It’s a fairly common surgery and most dogs recover well from it.

But it’s something that needs to be done by a professional as your aussie could do further damage if you try to relocate the joint yourself.

5) Bone Cancer

Bone cancer is another potential reason why your australian shepherd is limping and it’s a fairly rare condition.

But if you notice that your aussie has a swollen or painful joint, it’s a good idea to have them checked out by the vet just in case.

Bone cancer can be treated but it depends on how advanced the cancer is.

6) Nail Pain

Something else to look for if your australian shepherd is limping is if they have any noticeable problems with their nails.

If they have a broken or loose nail, an ingrown nail, an overgrown nail, a nail bed infection, etc. any of these could cause your pup pain when they walk which makes them limp.

Treating nail pain is usually fairly simple and only requires trimming the nails or treating an infection.

But it’s important to get it sorted out as soon as possible as it can be quite painful for your aussie.

So if you notice they’re limping and they have any problems with their nails, get them to the vet or groomer to have it sorted out.

7) Paw Pad Injury

Paw pad injuries are another potential reason why your australian shepherd is limping and they can be caused by a number of things.

It could come from your pup stepping on hot pavement which causes their paw pads to become burnt and sensitive.

It could be from overexercising which causes the harder outer layer to wear away exposing the more sensitive skin underneath.

Foreign materials could be caught in their paw like glass or chemicals from the road or your neighbors lawn.

Or they could have an infection or even a tumor in their paw pad.

All of these things can cause your aussie pain when they walk and make them limp.

8) Sprain or Strain

A sprain or strain is another common reason why dogs limp and it’s usually caused by them overdoing it physically.

If your aussie has been playing too hard, running around too much, or jumping off things they’re not supposed to jump off of, they could easily sprain or strain their muscles and ligaments.

Sprains most often occur in aussies that are overweight which makes physical activity more strenuous on their body and increases the chances of spraining something.

This can cause a lot of pain and make it difficult for them to walk.

There’s usually not much you can do except rest the muscle and give it time to heal.

But it’s best to have a vet tell you that instead of making an assumption.

It might be something that needs treatment in order for them to get back to normal.

9) Skin Infection

The last potential reason your australian shepherd is limping is a skin infection in between their paw pads.

Skin infections can be caused by a number of things such as bacteria, fungus, or parasites.

However, more often than not, it’s dermatitis.

If this is the case for your pup you’ll notice them licking their paws more often and will be limping more when walking on grass.

This is because the grass will poke the soft, irritated skin above their paw pads which causes them to limp.

How To Know If Your Australian Shepherd Should See The Vet When Limping

If your aussie’s limping is beyond a one-off situation where it randomly happens one day and you never see it again, they should see a vet.

In all other situations it’s important to have a vet determine what the reason for their limping is and recommend how to help get them back to normal.

The earlier they get treatment for whatever is causing them to limp the better.

Tips To Help With Your Australian Shepherds Limping

1) Visit The Vet

The first thing you should do is take your australian shepherd to the vet if you notice them limping.

The vet will be able to do a physical examination and determine what the reason for their limping is.

If it’s something simple like a nail infection they can give you tips on how to treat it at home, but if it’s something more serious they might need to do surgery on your pup.

So it’s always best to take them in and get them checked out.

This way you can get some peace of mind by getting a concrete answer.

You’ll either know it’s nothing to worry about and go home with things you can do to help, or they’ll get the treatment they need.

[Nothing brings peace of mind quite like speaking with a vet – click here to chat with a vet online now]

2) Comfortable Bed

If your australian shepherd is having trouble walking because of an injury or something like arthritis, it might help to put them on a comfortable bed.

This will take some pressure off their joints and can help make standing up and walking after lying down easier for them.

You’ll want to get them something with orthopedic memory foam to help take as much pressure off their joints as possible.

We wrote a post on the Top 8 Best Beds For Australian Shepherds that you can check out by clicking here.

While you may not be able to completely fix their arthritis or hip dysplasia, you can help make it much more bearable.

3) Mindful Walking

Mindful walking simply means taking a little more consideration into the times and places that you walk your aussie.

If it’s super warm out and the pavement is hot to the touch, you should make their walk short and mostly in shaded areas if possible.

If you just put salt down to help with ice during the winter, do your best to avoid these areas with your pup.

Or at least give their paws a good wipe down afterwards to ensure all the chemicals or salt are gone off their paws.

The more mindful you are about when and where you walk your pup the better chance their paws will stay in good condition.

Which should help limit how often you see them limp from paw pain.

4) Increased Paw Grooming

If your australian shepherd is limping from an overgrown nail, an ingrown nail, or has an infection on their paw, a little more paw grooming can go a long way.

Making sure you’re trimming their nails each once a month so they don’t get too long.

While also being sure not to trim them too short to cause them pain that way.

As well as wiping their paws off more frequently after coming home after a walk can give your aussie the best chance at having consistently healthy paws.

Other posts you might find interesting:

12 Best Harnesses for Australian Shepherds

Top 8 Reasons Why Australian Shepherds Paw At You + 3 Tips

Top 9 Reasons Australian Shepherds Pant So Much + 4 Tips

8 Reasons Australian Shepherds Get Too Skinny + 4 Tips


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