Pug Limping? Back or Front Leg? Possible Causes and What to Do

Your Pug will probably have a limp at some point in their life. You may wonder why your Pug is limping and how to help your little four-legged friend feel better. 

Most limps will go away on their own with a bit of TLC, rest and relaxation. But it’s important to know when a limp is the sign of a more serious health problem. 

Today we’re going to help you understand the signs and symptoms associated with Pug limping and what to do when your Pug pal is a bit unsteady on their feet. 

Why is My Pug Limping?

According to VCAhospital, lameness in Pugs is typically the result of an injury or debilitation of bone, muscle, nerves, tendons, skin, or ligaments in the leg. 

Your Pug’s limp might be attributable to an obvious cause (for example, if your Pug has broken a bone, sprained an ankle, dislocated a joint, etc.). 

However when there is no obvious cause it can be harder to pin down. A limp will not always be accompanied by a clear external sign of injury. 

Lameness can also be caused by skin infections, abscesses, joint malformation, and/ or underlying problems related to your Pug’s nerves, ligaments, or tendons. 

Common causes of limping in Pugs, include:

  • Your pug has injured their paw (e.g., broken claw, small wound, lesion, or bruise) 
  • Your pug has strained or torn a ligament, tendon, or muscle 
  • Your pug has been bitten or stung by an insect
  • Your pug has broken a bone or experienced a trauma
  • Your pug has an underlying inflammatory condition 
  • Your pug has an underlying vascular condition 
  • Your pug has picked up an infection disease (e.g., lyme disease)
  • Your pug has osteoarthritis 

These are some of the most common causes of Pug limping. It’s also useful to note that certain causes are only linked to limping that occurs in one leg to a greater or lesser extent. 

Pug Limping on Left Leg

The following problems tend to affect only the front legs.

  • Shoulder instability 
  •  Elbow dysplasia
  • Brachial plexus tumor (this typically occurs in the shoulders)
  • Biceps tenosynovitis (inflamed/ injured bicep) 
  • Osteochondritis dissecans – OCD- ( a joint disease in which shoulder joint cartilage does not properly develop into bone)

Pug Limping on Back Leg

The following problems tend to affect only the back (hind) legs. 

  • Hip dysplasia 
  • Patellar luxation 
  • Lumbosacral disease
  • Lliopsoas strain 
  • Achilles tendon rupture
  • Cranial cruciate ligament rupture
  • Superficial digital flexor (SDF) luxation 

How to Assess Your Pug’s Limp 

As soon as you notice your Pug starting to limp, it’s important to assess the situation carefully. 

You’ll need to inspect their paws and limbs in order to try and figure out what exactly is causing the issue in the first place. 

Ask yourself the following questions? 

  • Was the onset of limping sudden or gradual?
  • Has my Pug had any accidents (e.g. a fall or tumble whilst playing)? 
  • Has my Pug been overexerting itself? 
  • Is the limp on the front or back legs? 
  • How severe is the limp and has it become more severe over time? 
  • Can your Pug put any weight on their lame leg? 

How to Treat Non-Emergency Limping in Pugs

If your Pug has developed a limp and the situation is not that bad. Then there are a few things you can do at home to make them feel better.

But remember, if lameness persists for more than 24 hours, it is important to visit your veterinarian for a professional consultation.  

1. Foreign body, cuts & lesions 

Sometimes foreign objects get lodged between a Pugs toes or paw pads causing cuts and lesions. If you are able to dislodge the object easily, then do so. 

Once the object is removed, clean the area around the wound with antibacterial, doggie-friendly, soap, and let the wound soak in warm water for a while. 

This will reduce swelling. Once the wound is clean and dry apply some canine antibiotic ointment and keep the wound clean from any dirt and/or debris. 

2. Swelling

If your Pug has a sprain or bruise (or if they have developed tendonitis) then you will need to alleviate the swelling by applying ice packs to the affected area. Ideally, you should be doing this for periods of about 15 minutes, twice per day. 

Running the affected area under warm flowing water can also help to boost circulation and alleviate swelling. To achieve this at home you can place your Pug in the bath and swirl the bathwater around their swollen leg or use a hose/ shower head to spray water directly onto the affected area. 

3. Abscess 

In the case of an abscess, it’s advised that you apply a warm compress to the area and soak the area in warm water. Adding Epsom salts to the bathwater will also help. 

There is always the risk of rupturing. If your Pug’s abscess does rupture it is advised that you take them to the vet for a professional cleaning and treatment with antibiotics. 

When to Visit The Vet 

Limping does not always call for immediate veterinary attention. However, it’s important to know when a limp requires a professional opinion. 

If your Pug’s limp persists for more than 24-hours, it’s time to visit your vet. 

In some cases, immediate veterinary attention will be necessary. If you suspect that your Pug has any of the following, then take them to the vet immediately. 

  • Limping with fever
  • Limbs that are hot to the touch 
  • Moderate or severe signs of swelling
  • A dislocated limb (dislocated limbs often look like they are dangling) 
  • A broken limb (broken limbs often appear at an irregular angle)

How Veterinarians Diagnose Lameness in Pugs

Veterinarians diagnose lameness in accordance with a range of specific criteria. 

When you take your Pug to the vet they will start by conducting manual checks. They will test the affected area gently using their hands to assess your Pug’s condition. 

In most cases they will carry out the following checks: 

  • Lift the paw and inspect the paw pads for cuts, swelling, thorns/rocks, ticks etc. 
  • Check for broken nails – your Pug may cry out when their nail is squeezed. 
  • Check for broken bones –  by running fingers up and down the legs to check for swelling and signs of discomfort/ pain.
  • Assess joining mobility – by gently moving elbows/ knees and rotating the front legs
  • Check for signs of pain or discomfort – by gently rubbing the shoulder muscles and 
  • Check for signs of swelling – by gently rotating your the hips 
  • Applying gentle pressure to the spin to check for resistance 
  • Stretch legs to check for signs of pain or discomfort 

Sometimes manual checks alone won’t be enough to make an accurate diagnosis. 

In these cases, your vet will carry out more in-depth testing like blood tests, x-rays, fluoroscopy, or an MRI scan. 

How Vets Treat Lameness in Pugs

Once your vet has identified what is causing your Pug’s lameness, they will start treatment.

Here are some common treatments:

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDS)

NSAIDs medications relieve pain and inflammation in dogs with acute injuries. This type of medication is also commonly used to treat canines with chronic arthritis. 

Surgery

If your Pug has a badly broken or fractured bone or dislocation then they may require surgery to provide the best long-term prognosis and outcomes. 

Surgery for broken bones often involves the use of pins and plates.  

Non-surgical treatment

Not all broken or fractured bones will require surgery. In many cases, your vet will treat the break non-surgically by applying a splint or cast to the affected area. 

Dislocations may be treated with bandages and slings which work to stabilize the affected area during recovery.

How to Transport a Limping Pug to The Vet

If your Pug is injured, the trip to the vet can seem daunting. But it’s important not to let this logistical difficulty put you off seeking professional care. 

Whilst transporting your Pug to the veterinary surgery it’s important to mitigate any risk of worsening their condition. 

Proceed with caution. Don’t let your pet jump up into the car themselves (even if they can). Carry your Pug to the car, making sure to support their head and hips as you do so. You could also use a sling to carry them if you have one. 

Drive carefully, being careful to avoid any bumps in the road. 

How to Prevent Pug Limping

Limping may be common but there are some things to be aware of that can help you keep your pet out of harm’s way. 

Whilst there’s not much you can do to prevent a limp caused by an underlying health issue, you can try to mitigate the risk of injury. 

Sometimes the cause of your Pug’s limp will be completely out of your control. But there are ways that we can try to prevent limping caused by injury and exertion. 

Here are some top tips to help keep your Pug safe and sound. 

  • Try to keep your Pug off sharp, uneven surfaces 
  • Check their paws and pads regularly, make sure to remove any debris.
  • If you’re walking in winter, wear boots to keep their pads away from the salt and grit.
  • Avoid surfaces that are either too hot or too cold 
  • Keep an eye on their exercise, never have more pressure on their joints.
  • Elder Pugs require less exercise, ask your vet for more professional suggestions

Limp No More

So, there we have it. 

There are many possible causes of limping in Pugs. 

If your Pug is limping, conduct some initial checks. 

If the limp does not clear up quickly (within a matter of days), then it’s time to visit your veterinarian for a formal diagnosis and treatment plan.