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This occurs when there is an issue with the dog’s locomotion, where the dog limps, avoids weight bearing or otherwise avoids using their limb correctly. There are a number of reasons why the dog may be lame and there are five types of lameness.




This is frequently observed with cruciate ligament damage or other conditions which result in discomfort for the dog; particularly when weight bearing. The lameness will be seen in the affected limb – it will be regional to the actual injury site.




Commonly seen in the limb opposite to the affected limb where the dog has overcompensated as a result of an injury to the opposing limb. The lameness occurs as the previously uninjured limb becomes weak as a result of the extra strain that is placed upon it. It is also possible to see this complementary lameness on the limb lateral to the injured limb.


Swinging Leg


This can be observed due to both muscular and skeletal reasons. In the case of muscular strain; the animal will avoid using the muscle that is causing them pain both to avoid discomfort and to avoid causing further injury. They will try to keep the affected muscle free from extra strain by swinging their limb rather than using flexion or extension when moving. They will also use this movement when they have an injury to their skeletal system such as arthritis; if the joint itself has fused leaving them unable to flex or extend.


Weight Bearing


The dog will show reluctance to put weight on the affected limb due to the discomfort that this would cause. It is commonly seen in dogs with strained muscles as well as those with injuries to the ligaments. They will often be lame when standing rather than in motion, although it is possible that they will become lame on another limb due to overcompensation.


Three Legged


Frequently seen in dogs with luxating patella. The dog will move using three legs rather than four and may simply hop on the fourth limb. Terriers can often be seen using this type of walk due to them having patella problems; as a result of poor genetic make-up. These dogs may not exhibit the lameness when standing still although other causes of three legged lameness may be evident when standing.


Benefits of Massage

  • Speeds recovery time
  • Reduces tightness in the muscles
  • Eases areas of overcompensation
  • Promotes natural range of movement
  • Reduces adhesions
  • Increases flexibility
  • Reduces the formation of restricting scar tissue