Why Is My Golden Retriever Limping? Causes And Solutions

Golden Retrievers are active, bouncy dogs who usually enjoy their daily exercise and play. This means that any sign of a limp should attract your attention fairly quickly and make you wonder why. When a Golden Retriever goes limping, even if only slightly, it always signifies an underlying problem ranging from the minor – like an insect bite, splinter, or stuck foreign object – to emergencies like a break. 

golden retriever puppy paws

Although not pleasant for your Golden and may cause a few whimpers, minor injuries can usually be dealt with at home using basic first aid. Accidents resulting in broken bones require immediate veterinary care. 

Then, some issues like chronic conditions and illness can cause limping that only reveal themselves over time. If you are ever in doubt, a visit to your vet is always the best course of action.

Let’s get to a perfect answer; here’s it!

Why Is My Golden Retriever Limping?

There are many reasons why your Golden Retriever may develop a limp. Common causes for going lame are foot, nail, leg injuries, underlying chronic or genetic conditions, Hip or Elbow Dysplasia, and illness. If your Golden is unable to distribute its weight evenly on all four legs, it means that they are experiencing some degree of pain, and you must identify the source of the problem.

Other than the above-mentioned reasons, there is more few reasons that can cause limping in your Golden Retriever, and a few possible reasons I’ve mentioned in the very next section.

Reasons Behind Your Golden Retriever Limping

If your Golden Retriever is Limping then the reason is that either he has developed the sudden or gradual type of problem. Below I’ve mentioned all the possible reasons that can cause limping in your Golden. So, let’s get into it!

Overexertion During Exercise

golden retriever running

Your Golden Retriever’s enthusiasm for life is a joy to watch, but sometimes even they can overdo it. It’s great to enjoy the active outdoors with your dog, but if you notice any signs of lameness in the following hours and days, your Golden Retriever may have pulled a muscle through overexertion. Rest for a few days should help, but if that doesn’t work and your dog still shows signs of a limp, take it to the vet. 

HOD (Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy)

This bone disease affects young puppies, typically first appearing when the dog is around 2-7 months old. Larger breed dogs are more likely to be affected. Limping is accompanied by swelling, pain on touching the affected limbs, loss of appetite, and depression. Symptoms are managed with pain relief and supportive care, but steroids and IV fluids may be required in more severe cases. 

Injury (Sprain Or Strain)

If your gregarious Golden suddenly develops a limp out of the blue, the likelihood is that they have overexerted themselves while exercising, causing a strain or a sprain, according to Fetch by Web MD. 

Strains harm the tendons connecting muscle to the bone, while sprains harm the ligaments that connect bones.

These are common injuries for active dogs and may put your Golden Retriever out of action for a day or two. If the limp doesn’t resolve by itself or reoccurs, take your dog to the vet.

Foot and Nail Injuries

Other injuries include lacerations to the paw pad, ripped or broken nails. Both injuries will cause your dog to avoid putting its weight on the injured site. You can bathe sore paws in warm water and Epsom salts. Apply antiseptic and bandage any wounds.

Check your Golden’s feet and nails regularly and keep claw neat. Trim nails yourself, but make sure you don’t trim too close to the quick – the soft, tender part beneath the nail. Consider getting a professional groomer to tend to their toes to ensure it’s done right. 

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Foreign Objects Stuck In Their Paw

The soft pads of a puppy’s paws soon toughen up as they run around exploring the outside world, but they are still vulnerable to sharp foreign objects like thorns, stones, broken glass, and twigs. These can get lodged in their paws and cause pain, making your Golden Retriever limp. 

When you see your dog develop a sudden limp, the first thing to do is to check its paws and remove any foreign objects. For stubborn splinters, soak your dog’s foot in a solution of warm water and Epsom salts to see if that will help ease it out.

Salt On The Road

The salt on the road in winter can dry out your dog’s paws resulting in irritation and cracked skin, which could cause your Golden Retriever to limp. Ensure any salt is washed from their paws when you come back from your walk in the winter. Your vet may be able to recommend a topical cream to soothe cracked paw pads.


Panosteitis is a disease that affects puppies and is sometimes known as ‘growing pains.’ It is a painful inflammation of the outer shaft of the leg bone. Lameness will come on suddenly and can affect different limbs at different times.

Your vet will help you manage pano with pain relief and anti-inflammatories. It will spontaneously resolve itself by the time your dog reaches its second birthday.

Ligament Injury

If your Golden Retriever goes lame in the back legs, it may have torn or ruptured its crucial cranial ligament. A torn CCL is more often seen in medium to large active dogs. Depending on the severity of the injury, your Golden Retriever may require surgery to fix the problem.


Lameness may be the symptom of some bone cancers.

Broken Leg

If your Golden Retriever is in an accident and sustains an injury or trauma, they may have broken bones. A broken leg’s signs include limping, vocalizing the pain, and inability to put any weight on the injured limb. The leg may look like it’s at an awkward angle, and in more severe cases, the bone may even protrude through the skin, which creates the risk of infection. This is an emergency, and you should take your dog directly to the vet. 

Dislocated Knee

A dislocated kneecap or ‘patellar luxation’ is more common in smaller breed dogs, but it does appear in larger breeds like Golden Retrievers. It affects the back legs and causes dogs to limp in a characteristic ‘skipping’ manner whereby they limp a few steps before returning to a normal gait in between. 

Hip And Elbow Dysplasia

Elbow and hip dysplasia are more common in larger dogs. Hip dysplasia happens when the soft tissues normally stabilize the hip joint tend towards laxity and don’t form correctly. This causes the ball and socket hip joint to be malformed, creating mobility, pain, and lameness problems. 

You might notice your dog has an abnormal gait, stiffness getting up, and pain around the hip area. 

Elbow dysplasia affects the forelimbs in the same way. Your vet will be able to give you a diagnosis, and the condition is usually managed through maintaining healthy body weight, physiotherapy, and medication such as pain relief and anti-inflammatories. 


This chronic condition will gradually come on, and in addition to a limp, other signs may be stiffness, difficulty getting up, weight gain, and irritability. Your vet will probably provide a joint supplement to help with this.

When You Should Call A Vet About Your Limping Golden Retriever

golden retriever in grass

In mild cases like an insect bite, foreign object, minor injury, or even a mild strain or sprain, some simple first aid and supporting your dog to rest can be enough to ensure they bounce back in a day or two.

But if your dog still has a limp after this time or it reoccurs, then it’s best to visit your vet. If the dog is in obvious pain in emergencies such as acute injuries, your vet is the first person to call.

For limps with no apparent cause, it is also best to contact your vet because it could result from an underlying or chronic disease.

How To Stop Your Golden Retriever From Getting Leg Injuries?

Prevention is always better than dealing with an injured doggie. A healthy dog is much less prone to injury or chronic disease.

Give your dog a healthy balanced diet as obesity can lead to joint problems. 

A well trained Golden Retriever who is responsive to your commands is also much more likely to avoid injury.

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As your Golden Retriever’s owner, it is your responsibility to supervise them when at play or exercise; if your dog is very active and does more athletic activities, take time to take care of its conditioning. 

Remember, your dog should get regular exercise. Manage their fitness levels with a consistent daily routine so that they can run, play and hike with you safely for longer.

When out and about, assess risks and remember it’s your job to determine what’s safe and when it’s time for your Golden Retriever to take a break.

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Here’s a short 15 seconds video where a sweet Golden Retriever is Limping…


Why Is My Golden Retriever Limping All Of A sudden?

It depends on the context: the age of your Golden Retriever and what happened before the limp. For example, a very young pup from 2 months old may have developed pano or HOD if there was no inciting event. Injury to the leg or paws will cause a sudden limp, as will stuck foreign objects.

How To Prevent Limping In My Golden Retriever?

Sadly we can’t always protect our Golden Retrievers from injury or disease. Identifying the reason for the limp and dealing with it promptly is important.

Should I Exercise My Golden Retriever When They Have A Limp?

Acute conditions require rest until the limp heals. In chronic conditions such as hip dysplasia, your vet will advise you on how best to modify their exercise routine.

The Limp Doesn’t Seem To Bother My Dog: Is My Golden Retriever In Pain?  

If your dog can’t put its weight on a limb, then it is in pain. Perhaps not significant pain, but there is an issue there, and you need to find out what it is.


Golden Retrievers limp for all kinds of reasons. It is always worth getting to the bottom of the issue as it is not normal for your Golden Retriever to go lame. The best course of action is to check limbs, paws, and toenails for any injury or issue. If you can’t efficiently deal with the matter at hand, you must go and see your vet as soon as possible.

Some of the reasons why your Golden Retriever is limping are more serious than others but the sooner you deal with the problem, the sooner you and your best pal will be able to enjoy life to the full together again.

I hope that now you might be clear with the cause of lameness, and also with the question “Why Is My Golden Retriever Limping?” Well, if you still have any doubts just let me know in the comments and, if you loved reading the above piece of content then you might also like these!

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