Knowing When to Seek Emergency Care for a Limping Pet

Limping is a common issue among pets, and in most cases, it can wait until the next business day for veterinary care. However, there are certain circumstances in which you should immediately head to the nearest emergency veterinary hospital. Here are the signs to watch out for:

1. Dragging a limb
2. Not bearing weight on a limb
3. Extreme lethargy
4. Uncontrollable bleeding
5. Excessive swelling
6. Excessive vocalization
7. Abrupt worsening of a limp

If your pet is experiencing minor lameness along with other worrying symptoms like vomiting or diarrhea, they may require emergency treatment for the primary cause rather than just the limp.

While there are many reasons why pets may become lame, not all of them require immediate attention. For instance, a muscle sprain or strain is concerning but doesn’t necessarily demand a rush to the nearest emergency hospital. However, there are certain causes of lameness that do require urgent care. These include:

1. A fractured limb
2. Paresis or paralysis of one or more limbs
3. A deep or large wound that won’t stop bleeding
4. A venomous insect or snake bite
5. A car accident
6. A dog fight

Even if these situations may not initially seem severe, internal issues could develop and require treatment. For example, if your pet was hit by a car and only has some road rash on their legs and a minor limp, a comprehensive examination may reveal damage to their liver, spleen, kidneys, or bladder, necessitating intensive hospitalization.

Another common scenario that requires immediate attention is when a pet has been bitten by another animal. Puncture marks may appear small, but the wounds can quickly become infected. Additionally, if a pet grabs and shakes your pet, significant tissue damage can occur, leading to a serious problem.

Determining whether your pet, who has become a three-legged companion, needs emergency care can be challenging. In such cases, it’s best to give our team a call to discuss your pet’s condition. We can provide guidance and advise you on whether your pet requires emergency treatment.