When to Seek Immediate Veterinary Care for a Limping Pet

In most cases, when your pet is limping, it can wait until the next business day for veterinary attention. However, there are certain situations where immediate action is necessary, and you should head to the nearest emergency veterinary hospital right away.

Signs of lameness in pets that require emergency care:

  • Dragging a limb
  • Not bearing weight on a limb
  • Extreme lethargy
  • Uncontrollable bleeding
  • Excessive swelling
  • Excessive vocalization
  • Abrupt worsening of a limp

If your pet is experiencing minor lameness but also exhibits worrying signs such as vomiting or diarrhea, they may require emergency treatment for the underlying cause rather than just the limp itself.

Causes of lameness in pets that require emergency care:

Pets can become lame for various reasons, and while some conditions may require immediate attention, others can wait. If you suspect a muscle sprain or strain, you do not necessarily need to rush to the nearest emergency hospital. However, there are specific conditions that demand urgent care, including:

  • A fractured limb
  • Paresis or paralysis of one or more limbs
  • A deep or large wound that won’t stop bleeding
  • Venomous insect or snake bite
  • Involvement in a car accident
  • Engaging in a dog fight

While these situations may not initially appear severe, internal issues can develop that require immediate treatment. For example, if your pet has been hit by a car and shows only minor road rash on their legs and a slight limp, a thorough examination may reveal damage to vital organs such as the liver, spleen, kidneys, or bladder. Such injuries might necessitate intensive hospitalization.

Another common scenario that calls for emergency treatment is when a pet is bitten by another animal. Puncture wounds may seem small, but they can quickly become infected. Additionally, if a pet grabs and shakes your pet, it can cause significant damage to underlying tissues that can rapidly escalate into a serious problem.

Determining whether your four-legged friend, now a three-legged pet, requires emergency care can be challenging. Therefore, it is advisable to contact our veterinary team to discuss your pet’s condition. We can provide guidance and advise you on whether immediate emergency treatment is necessary.