Dog Limping After Laying Down (12 Possible Reasons)

Dog Limping After Laying Down

As a dog owner myself, one thing that I am very concerned about is the health of my dog’s joints.

Poor joint health can be painful for the dog and affect its quality of life.

It can be disconcerting when one moment your dog is chasing its tail and the next moment, your dog is limping after laying down for a while.

When a dog limps after lying down, it may be due to discomfort or stiffness caused by joint issues, muscular problems, or even circulatory concerns. This sudden limping can be a sign of health problems such as arthritis, hip dysplasia or may just be a result of a ‘sleeping leg’.

If this sounds familiar, you’re in the right place.

Is My Dog Limping Or Stretching?

Before you start getting worried about your dog’s mobility, you should be able to tell if your dog is really limping or having a good stretch after a period of rest.


When your dog stands up and extends its front or hind legs, it’s stretching or loosening its muscles after laying down for a while.

They also may extend their back legs behind them while standing or walk slightly funny for a bit while the muscles warm up.

This behavior is usually brief and doesn’t cause any discomfort.


“Your dog’s leg might also be in pain which will make it whimper or reluctant to move.”

When dogs limp it is very easy to spot or notice.

This movement is marked by an uneven gait or a reluctance to put weight on one or more of its legs.

You might observe this as your dog walks or runs.

Your dog’s leg might also be in pain which will make it whimper or reluctant to move.

It’s often a sign that something’s not right.

12 Causes For Your Dog’s Limping After Laying Down

Understanding why your dog is limping after laying down can seem like solving a puzzle.

But don’t worry, you’re not alone in this.

Let’s unravel the mystery by delving into the common causes of this behavior.

1. Elbow Injury

dogs elbow callus bleeding

There are times when your dog’s limping can be caused by its elbow.

You might not be aware of this but your dog’s elbow actually goes through a lot of wear and tear as well.

Your dog exerts stress on its elbow when it gets up and lies down. And this stress is even greater for dogs that are large or overweight.

Over time, calluses will start to form on your dog’s elbow which can start to get very dry and crack.

Cracked elbow calluses can start to bleed and end up being very painful for your dog when it tries to get up after laying down.

The best way to take care of your dog’s elbow is to let it rest on soft bedding and to moisturize that area frequently with

Other elbow issues such as elbow hygroma and pyoderma can cause mobility problems for your dog.

These conditions can cause your dog’s elbow to become infected and needs to be medically treated at the vet.

2. Paw Injury

“Not many dog owners make it a point to check their dog’s paws regularly.”

Most of the reasons so far that can cause your dog to limp after laying down are due to the joints and bones.

But another possible reason is due to your dog having an injured paw.

A dog’s paws are quite sensitive and susceptible to various injuries.

Paw injuries can be due to:

  • Cuts or abrasions
  • Foreign objects
  • Broken or bent nails
  • Burns and frostbite
  • Insect bites and stings

Not many dog owners make it a point to check their dog’s paws regularly.

It is good practice to give your dog’s paw a thorough examination once every few weeks.

Don’t be surprised to find that your dog has webbed feet as it helps with traction and digging.

3. Arthritis

Arthritis refers to the inflammation of the joints, a condition that can result in a lot of discomfort for your dog.

The most common form of arthritis is osteoarthritis which is also called ‘degenerative joint disease’.

Although arthritis is more commonly seen in older and bigger dog breeds, it isn’t always an ‘old dog’ issue.

It can also manifest in younger active dogs and very active dog breeds that engage in a lot of physical activities.

Arthritis in dogs typically develops slowly over time as the protective cartilage around the joints starts to wear down.

This wear and tear process can be made worse by several factors such as the dog’s weight, age, and pre-existing health conditions.

Without the cushioning effect of the cartilage, the bones begin to rub against each other, leading to inflammation, pain, and decreased mobility.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a cure for arthritis in dogs.

The symptoms can only be managed with medication and therapy.

4. Hip Dysplasia

“Hip dysplasia is a genetic condition that is inherited by the dog.”

If your dog is suffering from hip dysplasia, it will show signs of limping after getting up.

This condition affects the hip joint which is a ball and socket joint.

In normal dogs, the ball and the socket will grow at a uniform rate which allows them to move freely.

This isn’t the case for dogs with hip dysplasia which causes the bones of this joint to rub against each other.

Such an issue can be very painful for your dog.

Hip dysplasia is a genetic condition that is inherited by the dog.

There are a number of dog breeds that are more prone to hip dysplasia:

  • German Shepherds
  • Great Danes
  • Bulldogs
  • Pugs
  • Corgis
  • Labradors
  • Golden Retrievers

Similar to arthritis, senior dogs and large-breed dogs tend to suffer from hip dysplasia. But it is possible to see puppies as young as 5 months old show symptoms of this problem.

The best form of treatment for such dogs is corrective surgery.

It can involve a total hip replacement or the area of the joint.

5. Sprains And Strains

Sprains and strains are injuries to your dog’s ligaments and muscles. This problem is rather common in dogs of all breeds and ages.

Most dogs love to be active and sometimes, their enthusiastic frolicking can lead to overexertion or even accidents.

A sprain is an injury to a ligament, which are the tough, fibrous tissues that connect bones to each other.

Strains occur when your dog pulls or tears a muscle or tendon which is the tissue that connects muscles to bones.

Symptoms of sprains and strains may include:

  • Limping or lameness
  • Swelling or tenderness in the affected area
  • Reluctant to move
  • Visible discomfort or pain

I have lost count of the number of times my dogs have gotten a sprain or strain.

It usually takes some rest and anti-inflammatories to set your dog right again.

In some severe cases, physiotherapy or even surgery might be necessary.

6. Bone Fractures Or Dislocations

dog with splint

Fractures occur when there is a break in the bone, while a dislocation happens when a joint slips out of its normal position.

Needless to say, having to suffer from either one is a very painful and distressing experience for your dog.

The causes of fractures and dislocations in dogs are usually due to significant trauma, like a bad fall or a traffic accident.

Such major trauma to your dog can also cause herniated spine discs or ‘slipped discs’ which can result in limping or lameness in your dog.

Dogs with a thyroid problem coupled with a bad diet can weaken a dog’s bones making them more prone to breaks and fractures.

A broken bone or fracture is most easily recognizable if you notice that your dog’s joint is at a weird angle.

However, there are also stress and hairline fractures that can only be seen with an X-ray.

Your dog will be limping and licking that area excessively as it is causing your poor dog a great deal of discomfort.

Treatment depends on the severity and type of the injury.

It may range from splinting and rest to surgery for more complex cases.

If your dog. has recently recovered from a fracture, your dog might still be limping after getting its splint or cast removed.

This is because the injury may have led to changes in how your dog moves to avoid pain and has now become part of its movement.

The limping should improve over time but physiotherapy may be recommended to speed up recovery and prevent long-term mobility issues.

7. Tumors Or Cancers

“Please understand that cancer isn’t an immediate death sentence.”

One serious reason for limping dogs after laying down is due to tumors or cancers affecting the bones or joints.

Bone cancer or Osteosarcoma is an aggressive cancer of the bone that usually starts in the limbs but can also affect the skull, spine and ribcage.

Symptoms that might point towards a tumor or cancer include:

  • Persistent limping that does not improve with rest
  • Swelling or a lump on the limb
  • Pain in the affected limb
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lethargy

A biopsy and X-ray will be required to confirm the presence of cancer cells.

Please understand that cancer isn’t an immediate death sentence.

Early detection and treatment can significantly improve your dog’s quality of life.

8. Lyme Disease

black ticks

Infections such as Lyme disease can also be a cause of limping in your dogs after it has been laying down.

Lyme disease is caused when your dog is bitten by a deer tick.

In dogs, one of the most common symptoms is intermittent lameness, where a dog appears to be limping one day and fine the next.

Other symptoms of Lyme disease include:

  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Swollen joints
  • Kidney complications

Lyme disease is often diagnosed via a blood test that checks for the presence of antibodies against this disease.

If your dog tests positive, your vet will likely prescribe a course of antibiotics, usually doxycycline for about a month.

Given that our dogs are usually outdoors and playing with other dogs, it is easy for them to get infected with ticks.

Ongoing tick prevention is an important process for every dog owner.

This can be done by giving your dog anti-tick medication and manually checking it for ticks on its body.

9. A Sleeping Leg

Have you ever been in a situation whereby your leg has ‘fallen asleep’ from sitting or lying down for too long?

Well, the same thing can happen to your dog.

One or more of your dog’s legs can fall asleep if it has been lying down for too long.

This sensation is also known as paresthesia and can happen when your dog’s position puts pressure on a nerve, temporarily reducing its ability to send signals to the brain.

When your dog gets up after laying down for a while, it might show signs of limping due to this temporary numbness or ‘pins and needles’ sensation in the affected limb.

While it’s generally harmless and resolves on its own within a few minutes. However, if your dog is experiencing consistent numbness, this isn’t normal.

It could mean that your dog might have a neurological or circulatory issue in its limbs.

10. Cramps

sad dog

Cramps in dogs can occur due to sudden, involuntary muscle contractions.

These cramps can cause your dog discomfort and lead to temporary limping, particularly after it has been resting or sleeping for a while.

I am someone that is prone to having cramps in my calves or toes when I sleep.

And the sudden pain will jolt me out of bed and have me limping around my bedroom until it goes away.

The most common causes of cramping are due to dehydration and overexertion.

If your dog has had a long day of physical activities, make sure that your dog is well hydrated to restore any electrolyte imbalances.

Giving your dog a nice and relaxing massage can also help to loosen out its muscles and prevent cramping.

Cramps are only temporary but it can be painful for your dog if it’s a severe one.

11. Torn CCL

“CCL tears in dogs can occur due to a sudden injury or from long-term wear and tear.”

It is common news to hear about professional athletes tearing their ACLs but it can happen to our dogs’ knees too.

In humans, the ACL is known as the anterior cruciate ligament which is the thin connective tissue in the middle of our knee.

For dogs, it isn’t exactly called ACL but CCL or cranial cruciate ligament.

Regardless of the naming convention, the nature of the injury is the same for both humans and canines.

CCL tears in dogs can occur due to a sudden injury or from long-term wear and tear.

Surgery is one way of repairing your dog’s CCL but it can be expensive and invasive.

Many dog owners are opting to let their dogs use a knee brace that stabilizes and supports the knee joint.

12. Meningitis

Meningitis is the inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord of your dog.

It is a severe health condition in dogs that can be caused by bacterial, viral, fungal infections, autoimmune diseases and parasitic infections.

Symptoms of meningitis in dogs include:

  • Rigid neck
  • Fever
  • Painful muscle spasms

Meningitis by itself does not affect your dog’s neurological system but can lead to mobility issues when it starts to affect the dog’s brain.

This can cause your dog to limp even though there’s no issue with its limps.

The vet will run a series of laboratory tests to determine the cause of the dog’s meningitis.

Treatment for meningitis largely depends on the underlying cause which usually involves the use of antibiotic and steroid medication.

When Should I Take My Dog To The Vet For Limping?

dog at vet

Given that there are so many possible reasons for your dog’s limp after laying down, it can be difficult to ascertain the seriousness of it.

Here’s how you make the call.

If your dog has suddenly started limping slightly but it seems to be doing fine in all other aspects, you can take 1-2 days to observe your dog to see if it gets better.

Your dog might have a slight sprain or cramp that is causing it to limp a little.

However, If your dog’s limp is accompanied by any of the following, you should contact your vet immediately.

  • Severe pain or discomfort
  • Reluctant to move
  • Swelling or visible injuries
  • Prolonged limping
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Changes in behavior

The vet will conduct lab tests and x-rays on your dog to try and ascertain the underlying cause of the limp.

How Do I Keep My Dog’s Joints Healthy?

Prevention is always better than cure. But it is not totally possible to prevent your dog’s joints from undergoing wear and tear.

However, we can do our part to keep them in the best shape possible.

Here are some ways to keep your dog’s joints and limbs healthy.

Regular Exercise And A Balanced Diet

Regular, moderate exercise is vital for maintaining your dog’s healthy weight and keeping their joints strong and flexible.

Overweight dogs are at a higher risk of developing conditions like arthritis and hip dysplasia which can lead to limping.

Even though our dogs need to exercise, too much physical activity can also be bad for your dog’s joints.

You need to know how much walking and running your dog should be doing given its age and breed.

Your dog diet’s also plays a crucial role.

You want your dog’s diet to be able to provide adequate and quality nutrients to repair its body.

Stay away from doggie kibbles and start feeding your dog good wet food or a raw meat diet.

Regular Vet Checks And Early Detection

Your vet can monitor your dog’s health and catch any potential issues early before they develop into serious problems that could cause limping.

This is especially important for dogs that have an underlying health problem or if you have a dog breed that is more prone to mobility issues.

Extra Supplementation

Not all dog owners believe in giving their dogs extra supplements but I do firmly believe that some dogs can benefit from this.

For joint health, supplements that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, glucosamine and chondroitin can help to support joint health.

There has been a lot of buzz around green lipped mussels for dogs.

They are known to be high in fatty acids and anti-inflammatory properties.

A study conducted in 2007 has shown that dogs with moderate to severe arthritis that were given green lipped mussels showed improvement in pain and movement.

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