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Beginning Signs of Leg Problems?

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A few months ago I noticed my dog (7 months at the time) was running funny. It wasn't all the time but there were moments when he clearly had a strange gait. He doesn't exercise too much. A long walk a day (60/90 mins) plus a few normal walks (15-20). A couple times a week we go to the park where he's off leash and plays with other dogs. He never spends more than 30 minutes there. I would say thats where he gets the most exercise. He runs like crazy with the other dogs. I'll throw a ball to him a few times, but that's it.
At first, I wrote off the strange run as just being an awkard puppy. It even seemed to go away. But in the last two weeks I've noticed that his left leg seems stiff, or its as if he doesn't like to put a lot of pressure on it.
He's now 9 months. I'm worried he has a problem with his left hind leg. I don't know what to do except cut out going to the park with him. Should I go to the vet? Can the vet do anything? Normally people wait until their dog is a bit older to get an x-ray for hip problems. Anyone ever experience something like this? Its really got me worried.
I had to videos but they won't post because the file size is too big. I'll try to upload them soon. I know its hard to comment on a subject like this when you cannot see what I'm talking about.


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A good vet is the place to start - on palpation of hips and knees he might find something then go from there to xray. Knees can be an issue - ACL, tendons and ligaments of knee caps that slip, most of that can be improved with surgeries if it comes to that. Some of it may straighten out with maturity and being feed right and fit. Hips can be problematic. Also could have pulled a stifle.


OCD can be a problem in front - shoulders usually- that are painful so they limp especially after playing hard.


If rest and leash walking for a week does not solve it or it is a reoccurring problem I take mine in and we go off what the physical exam shows. Xrays on pups can be tricky for some vets since growth plates are not closed, I have had seriously incorrect diagnosis so now I send young dogs xrays to a radiologist or have several vets look at them.

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I also recommend consulting with an orthopedic vet or certified rehab vet (rather than a general vet). IME, I have had much, much better diagnoses when consulting the professionals with specialty training. (e.g. I have had mis-diagnoses and missed diagnoses from regular vets.)


In addition to what has been suggested above, he could have a soft tissue injury (iliopsoas strain for example) which can often partially heal, then get re-injured if the dog stresses it too much before it is completely healed. Suggestive of the on-off pattern you have been seeing.


Last thought: PennHip x-rays to determine hip soundness can be done on a young dog. You can go to the PennHip website to find a vet who has been trained and certified in the technique.

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I noticed my youngest rescue with an odd gait and had him x-rayed. He had dysplastic hips and elbows. Definitely have him evaluated by an orthopedic vet. At his age it could be a growth issue that will resolve itself, but you need to know. Once you do know, you can evaluate with your vet just how much exercise he should be getting.


Kathy Robbins

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