Beagle Limping: An In-Depth Guide
We’d like to think that our beagles are invincible. And honestly — I think they think they are, as well. But once in a while, something will remind that maybe that isn’t the case. It’s like a limping beagle is an exotic car firing on all cylinders, that suddenly gets a flat. You have to be particularly mindful of this because some beagles will try to push through any discomfort or pain they may encounter, potentially injuring themselves more.
Limping, also known as lameness, is the inability to properly distribute weight onto any limb for whatever reason. As they can be very active if they’re outside, it’s not difficult to imagine they may even have a slight misstep. Consequently, it is not an uncommon problem in beagles — and other dogs, for that matter.
Progressive or Abrupt Onset?
Your beagle’s limp will falls into one of two categories: progressive onset or abrupt onset.
Progressive limps occur slowly over time. They are frequently attributed to underlying, chronic or degenerative conditions; such as osteoarthritis or dysplasia. Abrupt limps occur rapidly. They are frequently attributed to injury or trauma.
Being cognizant of whether your beagle’s limp is either of these, can assist your veterinarian in determining the possible causes.
When To Call Your Veterinarian
In order to play it safer, you should take into 3 parameters into account: time, type and threshold.
- Time: How long has this been occurring?
- Type: Does something appear clearly broken, swollen, etc?
- Threshold: Are they in observable pain?
If you recognize that your beagle has been limping for more than a few minutes, you should schedule an appointment with your vet. If your beagle’s limp seems controlled and isn’t particularly bothersome to them, you can usually wait or little bit; or it may even resolve on its own, during the waiting period to the veterinary appointment.
Now, if on the other hand, if you observe that your beagle is clearly distressed or injured, you shouldn’t subject your loved one to waiting. Get them to a veterinary emergency clinic as soon as possible.
The Most Common Causes For Limping
Lameness is due to debilitation or injury to either bones, ligaments, muscles, nerves, tendons or skin.
Limping is seen frequently by veterinarians for all dog breeds. It can be brought on a wide range of causes. They all tend to revert to these few categories:
Overexertion During Exercise
Just like us, sometimes they don’t know when to quit. It’s up to you as a responsible pet owner to monitor their activity. Fortunately, if your dog’s lameness is slowly due to overexertion, they likely will be back to normal with a few hours of rest.
Foreign Object Lodged Into Their Paw
You and I have the common convenience of wearing shoes or sneakers every day, so we don’t encounter this issue frequently. However, your beagle isn’t afforded the same things, therefore it’s not uncommon for them to step on something that can be rather jarring.
Toenails can grow too long if not checked. If your beagle frequently is outside on the asphalt or cement, as they walk it will naturally trim down their nails, keeping them from becoming too overgrown. Otherwise, you should check your beagle’s nails at least once a month or two.
Injury (Sprain or Strain)
If your beagle suddenly started limping, injury is very likely the cause. This will be that much more probable if your beagle is markedly active.
Very common in older dogs, this degenerative disease affects your dog’s joints. As with humans, pain can be treated with therapy and/or medication.
Ligament Injury or Disease
Ligament injuries and diseases may be caused by illness, infection or may even be congenital. Hip dysplasia affects ligaments, muscles and connective tissue of the hips.
This is emergently serious. Your beagle will likely be vocalizing quite a bit, due to the pain they’re in. Their leg may be warm to the touch and swollen. A broken leg will likely be being dragged or being held at an awkward angle. In extreme circumstances, the bone may break through the skin, cause a risk of infection.
Just like a broken knee, a dislocated knee as known as a luxating patella can cause seemingly insurmountable pain. On the other hand, some beagles may not even feel any pain. Weird, right?
This severe infection is contracted through tick bites. It is usually exhibited by painful and swollen limbs. Also, you may notice alongside the limping, other symptoms such as swollen lymph nodes, a loss of appetite, or a fever.
Another tell-tale symptom is a rebounding type of lameness. It normally fades after a few days, only for it to appears days or weeks later on. This results in a limp that comes and goes.
Degenerative Disc Disease
Any heard of anyone who’s had a slipped disc? Well, this is essentially the canine equivalent.
Cancers are more prevalent if your dog is over the age of 8. Both benign (non-cancerous) and malignant (cancerous) tumors can cause a limp. Chances are you’ll notice if something feels out of the ordinary, during your normal petting or grooming of your beagle.
Should I Examine the Leg Before the Vet Does?
It’s completely understandable that you want to help your beagle as much as possible. However, if you observe that they are in severe pain, you should not attempt to examine him or her. It’s simply not worth the risk of further exacerbating the issue at hand.
What Can I Do For A Non-Emergency Limp?
It’s always good to be prepared for an unexpected emergency. Personally, I keep the First Aid Only – 299 Piece All-Purpose First Aid Kit in both my car+home. Ever since I was witness to a car accident a few years ago, that was catalyst enough to always kept one around.
Some common issues that you can address at home include:
Lacerated footpads or broken nails: entails controlling the bleeding, disinfecting and bandaging.
Foreign body: If you find something between their toes and it’s easily accessible, try to remove it and clean the wound with anti-bacterial soap. Then soak their paw in warm water with Epson salts to relieve swelling.
Swelling from associated with a bruise, sprain, or tendonitis: Application of ice packs to the area for 15 minutes, 2x daily. Flowing water helps with circulation, reduction of swelling and promotion of healing. Place your beagle into the bathtub and swirl the water around the leg.
Abscesses: Warm compresses can be applied to the affected areas, or you can soak the area in warm Epsom salts bath. One caveat though: If the abscess ruptures; you’ll need to get your dog to the veterinarian who will disinfect the wound and provide antibiotics.
How To Transport My Limping Beagle
This step requires much caution as you don’t want to injury your loved one during transport. Lay your beagle down with their injured leg up.
If your pup can’t walk, you can use a beach towel or blanket as a sling to carry them.
How Will My Beagle Be Diagnosed?
Things happen. Some causes are quite observable, while others will remain elusive without further testing.
Upon meeting your veterinarian, they will perform a physical exam on your beagle to assess any pain, swelling, and range of motion.
Your veterinarian has an arsenal of tools to help determine the origin of your beagle’s limp. They can include images (CT scan, MRI, x-rays, ultrasound), biopsies, and blood testing.
How Will My Beagle Be Treated?
Between the time you discover their initial limping to when you arrive at the veterinary clinic, you may want to restrict and or eliminate their exercise or play that could worsen the limp, depending on the individual variables. Crating them more frequently is be another viable solution.
Your veterinarian will treat your beagle’s lameness with a treatment plan that could be as passive as rest for a few days to as aggressive as surgery with a prolonged recovery time; and everything in between. Pain and inflammation in acute injuries will commonly be mitigated by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs), such as meloxicam, firocoxib, carprofen, and deracoxib.
How To Prevent Limping (Lameness)
Proactive measures can be taken to minimize the chances of your beagle sustaining an injury that could result in limping.
- Make sure that your beagle gets their annual checkup or 2x a year checkup. We wrote an article regarding keeping your beagle’s vaccinations up-to-date. Better to be safe than sorry, right?
- Provide plenty of opportunities for exercise (both physical and mental), while under your supervision.
- Beagles do love their sleep. I should know — My pup, Skyler, has got a Barkbox’s Memory-Foam Dog Bed that practically keeps him in a coma, once its time for bed.
Fresh, clean water, nutritionally balanced food + treats are always important. Zuke’s Natural Training Dog Treats are an awesome, healthy pick-me-up for any dog.
Our beagles are our babies. As such, it’s our responsibility to make sure they are being properly taken care of.
Of course, if you ever question something that’s happening or that you observe with your beagle — consult your veterinarian. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
That being said: thanks for reading this article. Your beagle undoubtedly appreciates it.
Disclosure: This page may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases made through affiliate links on this site. The commissions do not impact the price you pay for those products, nor do they influence which product(s) we may or may not recommend on this site. After all — we just want your beagle to be happy and healthy.