It is very concerning when you see your Whippet limping on his front leg. A Whippet’s limping front leg is not normal and should not be ignored.
Whippet limping can affect both the front and back legs. It is often a sign that your Whippet is experiencing pain in its limbs.
A Whippet with forelimb limping will lift their head on the painful leg touches the ground and lower its head when putting weight on the good leg.
Here’s what you need to know about a Whippet’s limping front leg and what you can do to help your dog.
Here’s Why Whippet limping front leg happens
Whippet front leg limping happens due to health conditions or injuries that affect the front leg’s bones, joints paws, and other tissues. This includes shoulder instability, brachial plexus nerve tumors, biceps inflammation or injury.
Common problems that also cause front and back leg limping include bone fractures, joint dislocations, muscle strains, broken toenails, injury, infections, wounds, and diseases, developmental disorders, arthritis, and cancer of the bone, joints, and soft tissues.
Common Causes Of Whippet Limping Front Leg
The common causes of Whippet front leg limping include:
Whippet shoulder problems are the most common causes of front leg lameness and limping. Shoulder instability is an injury to the tendons, ligaments, and muscles of the shoulder.
Whippets have shoulder blades that are attached to the upper leg bone by tendons and ligaments. The function of this anatomy structure is to enable a Whippet to move or run with ease.
Sprains or injury to the shoulder muscles and/or ligaments causes shoulder instability that causes front leg limping or lameness in a Whippet.
This can be caused by activities that could lead to injury or sprains such as intense running or jumping.
The affected shoulder area may swell up and limits the neck’s motion. Lameness due to shoulder injury is also often worse after exercise.
A Whippet with shoulder instability will also be reluctant to put pressure on one or both of the affected front legs.
Whippets and large breed dogs are affected by shoulder injuries than small breed dogs.
Brachial plexus nerve tumors
The Brachial plexus nerves are a network of nerves that send signals from the spinal cord to the shoulder and forelimbs of a Whippet.
Tumors which are abnormal cell growths can form anywhere along the nerve sheath. The tumors can be benign or malignant.
The presence of tumors on the spinal cord may compress it which affects signal transmission to the brachial nerve causing neurological problems of the forelimbs. This results in:
- Pain in the forelimb
- Limping forelimb
- Forelimb lameness or paralysis if the tumor is pressing on the spinal cord
- Muscle weakness
The exact cause of tumor formation along the nerves has not been pinpointed by veterinary science, however, factors that have been documented to cause tumors include:
- Hereditary mutation
- Tumor formation around injuries
- Previous exposure to radiation
Biceps tendon inflammation and injury
Biceps tendinitis is the irritation or inflammation of the biceps tendon which is a tendon that connects the biceps muscle to the shoulder blade of a Whippet.
The condition is characterized by the inflammation of the biceps tendon and its surrounding tendon sheath at the front part of the shoulder.
Common symptoms of Biceps tendinitis include weakness and pain in the front shoulder. This causes irregular to constant lameness of the forelimbs.
The pain and discomfort are usually aggravated by exercise or activity and a Whippet feels pain when they move the affected shoulder.
Biceps tendinitis also leads to forelimb muscle loss.
The condition is caused by the continuous overuse of the biceps tendon with repeated shoulder motions through everyday normal activities, trauma, or degenerative conditions such as Osteochondritis (OCD).
Biceps tendinitis is common in middle-aged, medium-sized, and older large breed dogs such as the Whippet.
The common complication of Whippet’s front leg limping is loss of mobility and in severe cases, complete immobility or paralysis.
Whippet front leg limping is a sign of an underlying health problem that could lead to severe health complications outcomes if left untreated.
Muscle sprains, tears, broken bones, fractures, and disease are serious health conditions that lead to limping of the forelimbs.
When to seek help for Whippet front leg limping
Front leg limping in Whippets is often a sign of an injury or illness. If you notice your Whippet limping on its front leg, losing its mobility also with other signs of illness, seek medical attention.
Other symptoms of illness that may accompany limping include lethargy, fever, extreme pain, vomiting, difficulty in breathing, shaking, confusion, swelling of the limb, and bleeding.
The veterinarian will conduct a full physical exam of your dog and diagnostic tests to determine the underlying cause.
The information that you will be asked to provide includes your Whippet’s medical history, their activities, any trauma they may have experienced, and if the limping had a gradual or sudden onset.
They will also ask when the limping is worse, that is, whether your dog limps after lying down or after exercise.
Other Causes of Whippet front leg limping
Common problems that cause limping and affect both the front and hind legs include:
- Bone fractures
- Muscle strains
- Joint dislocations
- Broken nails
- Diseases (arthritis)
- Developmental disorders
- Cancer of the bone, joints, and soft tissues
Should you examine your Whippet’s leg?
If your Whippet is in severe pain do not examine them. You could worsen the situation by manipulating the broken bones.
Also, because they are in pain they might bite you to warn you not to touch the affected area.
Leave the evaluation to the veterinarian.
If your Whippet will allow you to touch their limb, gently hold the limb and examine it to investigate whether there is the presence of injury or not.
Limping can be due to serious underlying health conditions therefore it is best to take your dog for a medical evaluation.
Treatment for Whippet’s front leg limping varies depending on the cause. Treatment includes:
- Medication and plenty of rest for sprains, arthritis, or minor injuries
- Surgical or non-surgical treatment
- Physical therapy for dislocations
- Anti-inflammatory medication to reduce inflammation and swelling
Biceps tendon inflammation treatment involves physical therapy, restricted physical activities such as limited walks, or anti-inflammatory medication. If not if there is no improvement surgery is usually the next option.
Tumors along the forelimb brachial nerve are removed through surgery. In severe cases, complete amputation of the affected forelimb with the tumor may be recommended if necessary.
This is then followed up with radiation therapy.
Follow-up checkups on your Whippet’s progress should be regularly to ensure that your Whippet recovers and life-term conditions such as arthritis are properly managed.
Summary: Whippet limping front leg
Whippet front leg limping should not be ignored. It can come about gradually or suddenly occur making a Whippet to be in pain and also have an unusual gait or paralysis in severe cases.
Whippet front leg limping is a sign of an underlying health condition or injury to the bones, joints, or tissues in the forelimbs.
If you notice your Whippet has difficulty in mobility, lameness or any other signs of illness immediately seek medical attention.