4 Causes and Remedies for a Dog Limping Back Leg after Running

Pet Care


May 18, 2020

Has your dog come back from running with an injured back leg? All dogs love to run, and anytime they’re free from the leash or their kennel, they will run off. If your dog is limping on the back leg after running, it could have suffered from one of several injuries.

In most cases, limping is not an emergency in dogs. First, assess the situation before taking the dog to the vet. Check if the dog can stand and walk, check if there’s bleeding or swelling, and how much pain your dog is expressing. If your dog allows it, look at the affected limb closely. Remember that a dog in pain can be hostile even to its owner, so handle him very carefully.    

How to Check Your Dog for Leg Injuries

If there is a particular area that your dog is licking, it could be the source of the problem. Examine the leg for any cuts, wounds, and foreign objects. Some situations may call for the immediate attention of a vet. Look out for these signs:       

  • Inability to get up or move
  • Excess bleeding or swelling
  • Dragging one or more limbs
  • Broken bones
  • Fever

However, most of the injuries that cause a limp are not very serious and can be treated with a cold compress and total rest for the dog. Below we’ll outline some of the major causes of limping after running. 

1. Cut wounds

Your dog may suffer cut injuries that can be caused by objects such as broken glass, thorns, or stones when out running. Inspect the paw of the limping leg for any cuts or wounds. Also, check for objects stuck in their paw, like pieces of stones, wood, or glass using a pair of tweezers. Check for animal or insect bites as well. Clean the wound with a bar of gentle soap and warm water, then apply an antiseptic ointment. If the injury is very deep, take your dog to the vet for closer examination.

2. Sprains

Sprains and strains are common injuries in dogs. When a dog overexerts itself, especially when running, it could injure its tendons mainly around the hips and thighs. It could also injure its ligaments, causing joint damage. Swellings could be an indicator of sprains or strains. If the swelling is minor, apply ice on the area for 10-15 minutes and allow your dog to rest. If the swelling is severe, engage your vet for detailed tests and physical examination.   

3. Fractures

When your dog is running, it can trip and fall. In severe cases, this can cause bone fractures. Although a fracture cannot easily be detected externally, if the dog has suffered a broken bone, you may notice an unusual angle of the injured leg. A dog with a fractured leg will not be able to exert any weight on that leg, so the limp will be severe. If you have a reason to believe your dog has suffered a fracture after running, take it to the vet immediately.

4. Nail injuries

A dog can easily injure its pad or nails when out running. The nails can crack when caught on something or when too much pressure gets exerted on them. If the nails crack even slightly, they can be quite painful and can cause the dog to limp. However, unless blood comes out of the crack, your dog does not need veterinary attention. If there’s bleeding, take him to the vet for cleaning, sterilization, and bandaging.

When to See the Vet

Although a limping hind leg after running may not be an emergency, it is better to be on the safe side. In most cases, confining your dog and allowing it to rest is all the treatment they’ll need. If there’s no apparent injury, it could be that the dog overdid its run, but keep an eye on him and seek professional help if the limping persists. It’s advisable to schedule an appointment with the veterinarian if the limp lasts for more than 24 hours.  

If the veterinarian finds the injury to be severe, they will carry out a physical exam, which may include observation when resting, getting up, trotting, or walking. Other procedures may include blood and urine analysis, x-rays, CT, or MRI scans to assess the damage. 

How to Transport an Injured Dog

An injured dog can be hostile, and even the most mild-tempered dog can get aggressive when experiencing extreme pain. Keep in mind that moving or handling a wounded dog can cause more pain. The first thing to do is to restrain your dog. When restraining your injured dog, approach him from the side and not from the front. Gently muzzle him with a muzzle or gauze to keep yourself and the dog safe. If these are not available, make a temporary restraint from a piece of towel or blanket. Remember to take the muzzle off as soon as the dog arrives at the vet.

If your dog is small and has a minor injury, you can carry him in your arms. Use one arm to support his chest, and loop beneath his abdomen, in front of his back legs. Lift him carefully into the car. If your pet is large, look for a stretcher and get someone to help you move the dog to the car. You can make a stretcher from any firm, flat object such as a wood board, and then stretch a piece of blanket or cloth under the dog to make him comfortable. If possible, secure the dog somewhere to avoid movements that can worsen the injury and cause more pain. 

If you don’t have a hard, flat surface to use a stretcher, you can use a towel or a blanket. This is only possible if you have someone else to assist you. Standing on the opposite ends, lift the cloth from the corners, pull it away from one another, and keep the material as stiff as possible to prevent the dog’s body from bending. 

Avoid panicking and sit calmly next to your furry friend while avoiding close interactions like hugging, which could make him uncomfortable. If you are not sure how to move your injured pet or need advice on the best way to move him, call the local emergency vet for help. If your dog is seriously injured, call the veterinary hospital in advance. That way you know someone will be available to meet you with the necessary equipment to get your dog from the car to the hospital safely. 


Back legs are more susceptible to injury after a run because they exert more pressure than the front legs. When a dog dashes out of its leash, it runs with excitement and may end up getting injured. Look out for any injuries and apply the advice mentioned above to help your dog heal faster.

A limping dog should never be allowed to exercise. Make sure your dog rests as long as necessary, and give him time to get better. When the limping subsides, reintroduce exercise gently and progressively.