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Lameness is a general term used for limping, abnormal gait or pain that manifests itself in a pet's limbs. One or more legs may be affected.

There are numerous causes for lameness, including soft tissue (tendon, ligament, cartilage, muscle) or joint injuries; arthritis; infections; fractures; toe or nail injuries; hip, back or shoulder injuries or abnormalities and brain or spinal abnormalities.

The symptoms of lameness are:

  • Limping
  • Walk or run different than normal
  • Painful leg, foot or toe
  • Less active

Diagnosis is usually based on symptoms, examination findings, x-rays and response to treatment.

Treatment is prescribed according to the severity of lameness seen in the patient. Various medications may be used to help reduce pain and inflammation or infection associated with lameness. Fractures and some soft tissue or joint problems may require splints, casts or possibly surgery.

Exercise restriction is always VERY important in the treatment of lameness. This allows the damaged structures healing time and helps prevent further injury.


  • Use all medications as prescribed by a veterinarian.
  • Be sure to follow all activity restriction instructions from your veterinarian.
  • Carefully follow any splint, cast or post surgical instructions - these could mean the difference between a successful recovery and further problems.
  • It is important to have your pet rechecked as recommended by your veterinarian.

If you have questions about this or any medical topic, please contact your Banfield hospital today.