Dogs are animals that just about everyone loves. Being able to play with your dog is something that people look forward to doing and it can be a central part of someone’s life. As such, people tend to pay close attention to how their dogs act so that they can gauge if they are in the mood for playing or other activities.
One thing that you may see is that after your dog has been laying down for a period of time and it gets up, it may limp for some steps before continuing about its day as normal. Limps are a cause for concern (and for good reason), so you may be worried about your dog’s health. The good news about this is that this is often caused by harmless issues that you will not need to take your dog to the vet for.
The most important thing that you can do for your dog in this case is to have a good sense of how much this affects your dog’s life and if it is present in more than just sleeping. If the problem is occasional and doesn’t even happen every time your dog has been lying down, it may be nothing, but if the problem is persistent or seems to bother your dog, it may be time for a visit to the vet.
Differentiating a Limp From a Stretch
Some people will accidentally assume that when dogs stretch after they have been asleep, they are limping or in discomfort. It is important to know the difference between a standard stretch after being in one position for however long your dog has been asleep and having a limp due to other reasons.
The way that dogs stretch is that they will typically lean forward while walking and almost drag one or both of its feet behind it as it stretches its hind legs as well. This is pretty standard behavior and should not be thought of as limping or lameness, and is simply your dog stretching the sleep out of its muscles so that it can get ready to start its day.
More often than not, if the stretching is quick and the dragging of the legs is not more drawn out than it is on any other day, then there is nothing to be worried about. If you notice that your dog is doing this, you may want to watch how it acts for a few days so that you can establish a sense of what is normal for your dog to do. This will help you have a good idea of when something is standard behavior for your dog and when something is indicative of a problem.
The Simplest Answer
More often than not, the reason for your dog limping after laying down is simply that its leg fell asleep. While most people don’t think about this happening as much to other animals as it does to people, it can absolutely happen to your dog. Think about all the times you have laid down and suddenly you feel those familiar pins and needles in your arm, and consider how this can easily happen for dogs.
There’s no reason why this couldn’t happen to your dog. After all, the cause for this kind of sensation is when blood vessels and nerves have pressure put on them by the position you (or your dog) is sitting or lying down in. This can happen to your dog easily, especially if it falls asleep in a different position.
Dogs don’t have the understanding of why these pins and needles happen and that moving around is the best way to restore feeling, so dogs simply just don’t put weight on that leg because it may not feel as steady. After a few steps of moving around after it woke up, it should regain feeling in its paw and it can continue its day as normal.
As long as the limping goes away for a few steps and your dog seems otherwise unbothered, this is not a cause for any degree of concern.
Age and Arthritis
If your dog is older and tends to be prone to joint problems, its reasons for limping shortly after it wakes up will be centered around the joints. Just like people, dogs are more prone to developing arthritis and other joint issues as they grow older and their joints wear down more and more. For many cases of arthritis, in both people and dogs, moving around after waking up can be a little bit tougher than it is the rest of the day.
This happens for a few reasons. For one, when your dog enters sleep, its body temperature will drop slightly, just as it does in people. This means the joints are not going to be as well “lubricated” and are going to be a bit stiffer than they otherwise would. This is why dogs with arthritis tend to limp more just after they have woken up. As their body temperature raises and it moves around, the joint will move more easily, reducing the limp your dog may be having.
If you know for a fact that your dog has joint problems, then the limping more after it wakes up is not as much of a cause for concern. If your dog hasn’t been diagnosed with a joint problem and it is also limping through other parts of the day, then it may be time to get your dog checked out by its vet.
When it Becomes Cause for Concern
Typically, you shouldn’t worry about your dog too much if it limps for a few steps after it has first woken up, especially if your dog seems otherwise unbothered and is ready to go about its day. However, if the limping persists for longer than a few steps or if your dog seems particularly aggressive or defensive because of the pain, it may be something more than just a leg falling asleep.
In these cases, you should either bring your dog to the vet or call the vet and discuss the dog’s health. Your dog’s vet will have the knowledge necessary to determine whether this kind of problem is one that needs to be addressed soon, if an appointment can be made after more observations, or if an appointment even needs to be made at all.
A good rule of thumb to follow is that if your dog does not seem to be bothered by it (and isn’t showing signs of pain or discomfort), then you shouldn’t be bothered by it either, as it may just be a case of your dog’s leg falling asleep after a particularly good nap.