PetMeds® Dog Experiencing Lameness in Back Leg

dog-lameness-back-leg When a dog starts holding up one leg, this is a symptom of lameness, and is usually due to some soft tissue injury, trauma, or musculoskeletal orthopedic problem of the particular limb. Occasionally neurological problems of either the discs in the neck or lower back or hip areas can also cause pets to hold up one leg. Certainly tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease, Ehrlichiosis, or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever can also cause lameness of one or more limbs. Ligament problems such as tears of the cruciate ligament of the hind leg, as well as tumors can also cause lameness.

In small breeds a luxating patella is one of the more common causes of acute or intermittent chronic lameness of either of the hind legs. With patella luxations, there is usually a defect or shallow groove in the tibia bone right below the knee or stifle.  If this groove is not well formed, then the tendon of the quadriceps muscle (known as the patella tendon) will tend to slide in and out of this groove causing varying degrees of limping or lameness.

For pets with mild cases of patella luxations, the tendon will often pop back in on its own or with a subtle manipulation by the veterinarian or animal guardian. In more serious cases, surgery is needed to deepen the groove of the bone. To help increase the overall health of bones I recommend supplements like Super Joint Enhancer, Proanthozone or omega 3 fatty acids which can also help reduce inflammation.

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  1. My golden, Molly Pop, seems to have a muscle pull in her back leg. She has had xrays and nothing came up regarding any bone problems. The vet said maybe she has a small tear to her acl or miniscus but nothing on the xray was conclusive. We think she just keeps pulling a muscle after active exercise. Is there anything we can do for this other than massaging the area? She is on Missing Link Plus and takes your vitamin daily. We just don’t know what to do and find very little informatiion on the web regarding canine leg muscle problems. Thank you.

  2. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianAugust 28, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    If she has a partial tear of ligament, I find the supplements Ligaplex I at 2 capsules twice daily and Bosswellia complex at 2 tabs twice daily by Standard process useful supplements for long term support of the leg and to help healing. Your vet can get these or you can try finding them on or I also would add glucosamine supplement like glycoflex II from 1800petmeds as well to regimen.

  3. Thank you for the information regarding supplements for partial tears of ligaments. Can you please also recommend something for muscle pulls or extensions? Thank you.

  4. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianSeptember 1, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    I like the products from standard process company known as ligaplex I and Bosswellia complex. You can get these on

  5. My 13 1/2 year old dog has been diagnosed with a neurological disorder. It is causing clumisiness, uncoordination, stumbling and, increasingly, it is becoming more dificult for him to even walk. He is on Lasix for his heart so a steroid is not possible. While I know this condition has no cure I am wondering if there is anything I could give him that would help improve his gait at all? Perhaps a supplement or vitamin. I appreciate any information you could share! Thanks!

  6. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianAugust 2, 2012 at 9:58 pm

    I would try the supplements Ligaplex 2 and Calcifood powder from Standard process company, as well as Neurotrophin PMG from the same company. I would also feed a natural low carb diet such as Wysong epigen diet from 1800petmeds or a home made diet. See my website for more information. A consultation with a holistic vet could be helpful.

  7. I have a german shepard mix puppy that will be 6 months old in a week or so. He started limping a few days ago and is now holding leg up at times. I’m not sure how he injured it or what exactly is wrong. He doesn’t whimper with pain or anything. But it worries me he has a limp. His gate on his right hind leg is as if its out of place or longer for some reason, however I can straighten and rotate his hip with ease and no reaction from him. I don’t have the funds to see a vet but as very concerned about my puppy. Any advice or help for treatment will be greatly appreciated!!!

  8. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianMay 23, 2013 at 10:59 pm

    Hi Tiffany. Not much I can specifically advise you on without a diagnosis from your vet. You could try supplements like yucca intensive from 1800petmeds, as well as super joint enhancer and proanthozone antioxidant. Also the combination homeopathic remedy traumeel also may help.

  9. I have a male boxer 4.5 years old and he is normally a very active healthy dog. Brought him to the vet for a injured rear leg and they notified me they thought it was his knee and to let him rest for two weeks with minimal activity. He also has a bladder infection. The vet prescribed him to take a rimadyl andciprofloxacin. All he does is lays down all day now and can barely get up to go to the bathroom. He also has noticeable muscle loss in the injured leg. When he gets up to drink his water the affected leg keeps slipping backwards on the tile floor
    Anyone have any ideas what could be wrong? Seems more than a injured leg to me. I have seen many animals with injured legs and they normally just go on 3 legs a lift the injured one. My dog doesn’t even want to get up at all unless we make him?

  10. Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarianAugust 28, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    Best to have a second opinion from different vet if you are concerned. Lots of other possibilities, but torn ACL is quite common and can present like this. Sometimes surgery is needed.

  11. Dear Micheal, we have now discovered that our dog has a torn ligament apart from confining her to barracks for a few weeks if I strap her leg to keep it straight would this help repair .She is 8 and slightly over weight so we hope to work on a weight controlled diet as well. Kind Regards Greg Daly

  12. Took my dog for hip dysplasia test xrays and patellar testing and now she’s favoring her back right leg.

  13. So my Dog won’t put weight on his left hind leg and it just started and I don’t have the money for a vet but when I try to touch he goes to bite me.

  14. My dog was diagnosed with Lyme Disease on Monday and this is Friday. He is still not walking. How long will this lameness last with this disease? Will he ever be able to walk again? I forgot to mention it’s his back limbs.

  15. Our dog has been hopping for several weeks. (Staying off his left hind leg). We have tried different natural supplements I have rubbed his legs so much He’s never once winced or acted like he was in pain. The vet gave us pain medication. But now all these weeks later while he is still limping, our younger female dog just started hopping tonight. Is it possible she’s wanting attention?

  16. Hi Laura and thanks for your question! For any medical concerns, we always recommend you consult your veterinarian. However, for non-emergency questions, you can contact Dr. Dym directly using our Ask the Vet form.
    ~ Abby, PetMeds Pro

  17. My 14 year old pomeranian benny out of no where wont put his left back leg down. N it keeps like twitching and stretching out. And heavy breathing so I know theres some discomfort. It’s almost 1am my vet is closed and no emergency clinic near me. What can I do to help him? Thank you

  18. Hi Crista and thanks for your inquiry. For any medical concerns, we always recommend you consult your veterinarian. However, for non-emergency questions, you can contact Dr. Dym directly using our Ask the Vet form. We hope Benny is feeling better soon!
    ~ Abby, PetMeds Pro

  19. My 7 year old male german shorthair pointer suddenly wasent putting pressure on his right back leg. He gets plenty of exercise everyday but once he gets out of his kennel or get up. From laying down he wont walk on it until he gets up and motivated for a while. But if I squeeze and touch his leg he shows no pain signs. He dosent yelp or anything and he has never showed this limping until a couple days ago. An im just worried if theres something im not doing right? Thank you

  20. Just found this site and hope someone will have time to reply. Vets here in NYC area are closed due to the Wuhan virus pandemic. I have a 10 1/2 month old GSD who is quite big. 2 days ago he started resting right hind paw up like on his tip-toe. He still walks and runs around with a very slight limp but when he stops, he holds his paw either off the ground or just barely resting. I’ve checked his toes and nails and don’t see anything like a thorn or cut. Gently squeezed/pressed all along his leg and he doesn’t really even reach (other than the look of why am I doing that). He doesn’t seem to be in pain other than he won’t put weight on his foot when he’s standing. He usually plays kind of rough with our 13 month old female so it’s posssible he injured the muscle or ligament but I’m not sure what I can do to help him.

  21. Hi Laura and thank you for your question. For any medical concerns, we always recommend you consult your veterinarian. However, for non-emergency questions, you can contact Dr. Dym directly using our Ask the Vet form. We hope your dog is feeling better soon!
    ~ Abby, PetMeds Pro

  22. Hi Josey. I’m sorry your puppy is having a bit of trouble. For any medical concerns, we always recommend you consult your veterinarian. However, for non-emergency questions, you can contact Dr. Dym directly using our Ask the Vet form. We hope your puppy is feeling better soon!
    ~ Abby, PetMeds Pro

  23. My small dog keeps holding her right back leg up when she’s running or walking fast but if she’s walking slow she will us it and if she lifts up on something to stand she will stand on it . But sometimes when I rub it it pops but it’s never no better or worse when it pops this has been goin on for 3 days now. But she still runs and plays like normal . Any ideas ?

  24. My springer spaniel who is about to turn 2 has had a limp for about 8 months. We notice it the most after heavy activity (we have kids he loves to run around with) followed by a nap, when he gets up from a resting position. It usually lasts no more than 5 minutes. Recently he started holding up his back hind leg midway through our 30 minute walk, I was surprised as it usually occurs after the walk and subsequent nap, as he is getting up. Our vet has examined him 3 times, and “cannot find a tender spot” Do you have any ideas what could be going on? He is so young! I just started him on cosequin this week and added flax seeds to his diet. Thank you!

  25. Hi Dr. So my dog recently fractured her front left paw after jumping off a bed and her orthopedist thought she wouldn’t need surgery since she’s still a growing puppy, so she would get her leg wrapped up every week with a splint for support and every week they would decrease the support. We have seen tremendous process with her leg, but all of a sudden she starting holding her back paw up. She won’t really put any pressure on it and we have no idea what could be the reason.

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