Why Is My Pug Limping? And How To Inspect The Limb

The Pug has become such a popular pet dog for so many reasons, not the least of which is this dog’s willingness to join their owners on the couch. Pugs love to run and jump and play as well and can be quite a force to be reckoned with in canine agility, rally and obedience contests.

If there comes a time in your Pug’s future when you notice a limp, this article will help you answer the question “why is my Pug limping” and steps you can take to remedy the situation.

Why Is My Pug Limping?

The American Kennel Club (AKC) states that canine limping is actually quite common. Like people limping, it can happen for a variety of reasons. The two kinds of dog limping are sudden onset or gradual onset.

why is my pug limping

What makes diagnosing dog limping more challenging is that our dog can’t tell us what happened. However, I’ll provide you with some tips to help you understand what’s preventing your dog from walking normally. This breed is prone to several Pug health problems every pet owner should be aware of.

But first, let’s take a look at the most common reasons that cause dogs to limp.

Two Kinds of Dog Limping: Which Does Your Pug Have?

There are two main kinds of dog limping: sudden onset and gradual onset. Accurately identifying the type of limp your Pug is displaying can be important for diagnosis and treatment purposes.

Sudden Onset Dog Limping

Sudden onset, like its name implies, happens all of a sudden.

One minute your Pug is just fine and the next you notice the limp.

Gradual Onset Dog Limping

Gradual onset dog limping may seem slight at first and become progressively worse over time.

The earlier you can catch a gradual limp developing and schedule a checkup with your Pug’s veterinarian, the better (read on to find out why).

Common Causes For Pug Limping Issues

The type of limp your Pug is displaying can hold clues about the underlying cause of the limp.

Sudden Onset Limp Causes

The most common reasons why your Pug might suddenly start to limp relate back to a sudden injury.

Paw pad pain can arise when your Pug walks across sharp objects or too-hot or too-cold surfaces.

Joint dislocation can be caused by too vigorous playing or jumping.

Muscle, tendon or ligament strain or spray may be caused by too vigorous playing or running.

Gradual Onset Limp Causes

With a gradual onset limp, the causes tend to be (but are not always) different.

In most cases, a gradual onset limp may mean your Pug is suffering from arthritis, hip dysplasia, spinal or disc issues, Lyme disease, cancer or even panosteitis, although this is more commonly seen in larger breed dogs.

Pug dogs are predisposed to hip dysplasia and patellar luxation (trick knee). Genetic tests exist for both issues, but often a veterinarian can diagnose this from looking at images of your dog’s joints.

How to Find Out Why Your Dog Is Limping

pug limping on right front leg
Always inspect the pads of your dog.

Now that you understand what causes a Pug to limp, let’s take a look at how you can inspect their paws. When your Pug starts limping, you’ll want to find out what’s causing the issue as quickly as possible.

No matter what has caused your Pug to start limping, you are always in a position to help and the quicker you take action the better.

Step Back and Take A Closer Look

The first step is to do your best to assess what might be causing the limp. Is it sudden? Were you playing together? Did your Pug land funny after jumping off the couch?

Or have you been seeing what seems to be a slight limp for a while now and all of a sudden it is really noticeable? Take notes so you can discuss what you remember with your dog’s veterinarian.

Regardless of what you think, not all lameness looks the same. Can your dog put the weight down on the leg?

Sit back and watch them walk. Whether you believe it or not, your dog will let you know whether it’s their back leg or their front right leg that is bothering them.

Some dogs will only limp when they are walking, or raise their head when they put weight on the sore leg.

Once you know which leg is bothering your Pug, you’ll want to lift the paw and take a closer examination.

Pug Limping On Front Leg

Whether they are limping on their right or left leg, follow these steps to find out what’s causing it.

  • Pick up their paw and carefully inspect the pads for any obvious cuts, sores, or swelling issues.
  • If your Pug just came in from playing outdoors, look for thorns, rocks, or an inflamed tick.
  • Check their nails and make sure that they haven’t broken a nail or it is trimmed too short. Gently squeeze the nails on both the right and left front legs to make sure they are not tender and cause them to cry out.
  • Flex their foot to make sure there are no sudden signs of arthritis. This is more common in older dogs than puppies.
  • Run your finger up and down their bones on their legs to ensure they don’t have any broken bones or injuries you can’t see. If you notice any swelling or your dog snaps at you, then you’ll want to contact the veterinarian.
  • Check the elbow for proper movement.
  • Rub the muscles of the shoulder and gently rotate their front legs in a circular motion and watch for any pain.

Rear Leg Limping

  • Again check the pads for any swelling, cuts, or abrasions.
  • Run your finger over the pads and in between each toe to check for any thorns, gravel, or injuries they may have on the soft webbing.
  • Examine their toenails to see if they have a broken nail or did you cut their nails too short?
  • Run your hand gently up and down their legs to see if you feel any broken bones or notice any swelling.
  • Check their knee and pay attention to any swelling or pain when you move it. Some dogs are prone to luxating patella issues, which can be the cause of the limping.
  • Rotate your Pugs hips gently to see if you notice any pain. Make sure you’re gentle and if your dog whines or yelps, stop immediately.

When To Contact The Vet?

Unless the limp clears up on its own within a few minutes (as it sometimes will in young puppies), the second step is always to make that appointment to have your dog seen by your canine veterinarian right away.

Your Pug may be in pain and you want to alleviate the discomfort as soon as possible.

Your vet may want to take X-ray images or do other tests to determine the cause of the limp. This is important because the cause directs the remedy. It is especially important in gradual onset limp since the underlying cause may be systemic.

What to Expect When My Pug Starts Limping

For sudden onset limping, your veterinarian will most likely prescribe rest along with a combination of canine-appropriate pain relief and anti-inflammatory medications.

Never give people medications to your Pug. Always consult your canine veterinarian about appropriate medications and dosages.

If there has been a strain, sprain, tear or fracture that is now causing a limp, your Pug may need to have the leg splinted so it will heal properly.

When tests reveal an underlying medical issue such as arthritis or Lyme disease, you can expect the recommended treatment to focus on alleviating symptoms over the long-term.

Final Word On Lameness In Pugs

No Pet parent wants to see their dog suffering from pain. If the lameness persists for more than 24 hours, your dog is bleeding, dragging their legs, or can’t stand up, it requires immediate medical care.

Mindy my black Pug experienced sudden onset limping at one point. After carefully inspecting her paw, I found a small rose thorn.

If your Pug ever limps, hopefully, you find that something simple like this that is causing them to limp.

References and Further Reading

Burke, A., “Why Is My Dog Limping?,” American Kennel Club, 2019.

Mosser, P., “Health Recommendations,” Pug Dog Club of America, 2016.

McKenzie, E., “Pugs and Hind Quarter Weakness,” Pets The Nest, 2018.

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