Why Does My Dog Limp After Laying Down? Is Something Wrong?

If your dog limps after laying down, they most likely developed arthritis or hip dysplasia. Both are very painful for dogs and happen gradually. Unfortunately, there are no non-surgical options for either, but the pain can be managed with a proper treatment plan.

Dogs that limp after laying down could be suffering from arthritis

Noticing that your dog is limping after lying down can be very concerning. One minute they are moving around just fine, then all of a sudden they’re moving as if they’re in pain. It’s only natural that you would be worried and wonder what is causing this change in mobility.

Understanding Why A Dog May Limp After Lying Down

There are several reasons why a dog might limp after lying down. These can be as wide-ranging as wounds, insect bites or stings, nerve damage, arthritis, tumors, and more.

To narrow down the problem affecting your dog, it is important to be aware of your dog’s behavior.

Is the onset of this limping gradual, or is it sudden?

Sudden Onset

If the onset of your dog’s limping is sudden, it may be as simple as your dog overexerting itself during exercise. Rest and an icepack should take care of that, but if this is not the reason for your dog’s limping, there are other causes for immediate concern.

Sudden limping can be caused by trauma that will become more harmful if left untreated. It might indicate something like a joint or soft-tissue injury from playing or exercise that became inflamed while your dog was lying down.

After all, dogs will often rest after playing, and they may not immediately show that they have hurt their leg (dogs hide their pain as much as possible).

Other problems, such as a hairline fracture or broken bone, will present themselves immediately rather than after a dog’s nap, but keep in mind that limping could result from an old injury flaring up.

If you suspect this might be the case, think back on your dog’s medical history and recall if they had a prior injury to the leg they are favoring.

If your dog’s limping presents itself suddenly, it is very important that you take your dog to a vet to identify what physical trauma is causing this change.

Gradual Onset

It is more likely than not that, if your dog’s limping starts after it lies down, it qualifies as a “gradual onset.”

It may be days, weeks, or months, but all of a sudden, your dogs limping becomes pronounced enough for you to notice, and the cause of the limping becomes more severe each day.

A potential (common) cause of gradual-onset limping is a form of dysplasia, which is more common in certain breeds such as herding dogs or shepherds.

If you think dysplasia may be contributing to your dog’s limping, consult your veterinarian to confirm a diagnosis and see if therapy or surgery can be offered to fix the problem.

However, remember that stiffness in old dogs is not uncommon and is not necessarily caused by severe problems like elbow or hip dysplasia. It may just be that your dog has developed arthritis.

Since arthritis is one of the most common reasons a dog limps after lying down, we have dedicated an entire section to explaining why it happens.

Arthritis Causing Dog To Limp After Lying Down

Limping after lying down can easily be caused by arthritis, a common form of chronic inflammation in the joints of older dogs.

There are a few factors that contribute to the onset of arthritis. One is breed predisposition: shepherds, labradors, retrievers, and more are predisposed to developing arthritis. This is linked in part to their large size.

But other things, such as repetitive movement associated with competitions a dog may have taken part in, like agility or flyball, can cause long-term stress on a dog’s cartilage that increases their risk of developing arthritis.

However, any dog can develop arthritis as they age, regardless of breed or prior sports.

Signs Your Dog Is Developing Arthritis

It is important to determine if your beloved pet is developing arthritis. Arthritis cannot, unfortunately, be cured, but it can be treated.

Early identification is important, and signs such as limping after lying down can be the first sign.

Other than stiffness after lying down, symptoms such as pain when being petted, lethargy, hesitation to run or play, and difficulty crouching to go to the bathroom are signs that your dog may have arthritis.

Treatment For Dogs With Arthritis

Nothing can replace a visit to your dog’s veterinarian. They will be able to safely test your dog’s range of motion, examine their joints, and provide an X-Ray to confirm the diagnosis. However, there are some standard treatments you can expect your vet to recommend.

Supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin can be prescribed to ease the inflammation associated with arthritis and restore your dog’s mobility. They are naturally derived and have little to no risk associated with them. Fatty acid supplements can also help, your vet should be able to recommend a specific brand.

If you can, acupuncture has shown promise in providing relief for dogs and can be used in conjunction with supplements and other medications.

NSAIDs, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, can help suppress the pain associated with arthritis. However, there are potential side effects that you can discuss with your veterinarian and should be used with caution.

Limping Must Be Taken Seriously

While many things could be causing your dog’s limping after lying down, old age is a good indicator that the cause might be arthritis.

Barring limping caused by overexertion in exercise, gradual onset and sudden onset causes should all be checked by a veterinarian.

If your dog is older and has arthritis, which is a common cause of limping that happens specifically after lying down, there are ways to ease discomfort.

Besides supplements and veterinarian approved medicines or treatments, consider getting a special orthopedic bed for your furry friend.

Solutions to limping are holistic and individual, but with careful attention and dedication, you can alleviate the pain contributing to it and ensure your pet continues to live comfortably.

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