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Ask the Veterinarian/yellow lab hip/leg problem?


Hi. I have a just turned 3 year old male lab. My bf walked him to the park and noticed a limp on his left rear leg. Thinking it was nothing we waited the next day to see how he'd walk. He tends to lay on his left side and we noticed him having a little trouble getting up. He would get up slowly and with a limp. When he walks his butt sways side to side and has a little bit of a limp. He still runs and jumps and is active. He isn't showing any signs of pain. When he sits both his legs are together on the side. I should mention that he is fat. He's kinda tall for a lab and last time he was weighed he was 86lbs. We are changing his eating habits and giving him exercise more often to loose weight but taking it easy with him cause we just started this week. We plan ob taking him to the vets if not any better. Thanks.

Good for you for putting on a better eating plan. His limp could very well be the beginning of hip dysplasia due to his weight and genetics. Is he AKC registered with parents that were tested by the OFA?

If so you need to look up what their hips scored. They score between poor to excellent. Fair is common and so is Good. No dog should ever be bred that scores below good. The AKC recommends that they be neutered and not used for breeding.

When dogs lay on one side more than the other it's because they are "protecting" the side that hurts. If he sits the way you mentioned consistently, that is also a sign that there are some hip problems going on. Does he "hop" at all?  In other words, does he run with both legs together at the same time? That is another sign of hip problems but they are pretty advanced in dogs that hop.

You should plan on the vet seeing him just based on what you are telling me here. He is not too young to have this disease. Hopefully he was raised on some high quality large breed puppy food until he was a year old. These types of foods have been proven to help prevent or reduce hip dysplasia in most dogs.

In any event he needs to be seen. The vet can recommend a reducing diet (R/D) as well to get him going on some weight loss. When he is done losing weight then he should go on a food such as J/D for dogs with Joint and hip issues. That food has demonstrated to make a huge difference in these dogs.

So cut out all human food, treats and junk for him now and call your vet on Monday and get him in for some xrays and an exam of his hips.

I hope, for his sake, that he DOESN'T have hip dysplasia. Dogs with this disease can live long, happy lives when managed with medication and sometimes with some surgery, so don't think it's a death sentence because it's not.

Please let me know what you find out.

You can read more about hip dysplasia here:  

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Jana Connell RVT, CVT


PLEASE READ BEFORE SUBMITTING TO ME: I am NOT a vet and do NOT diagnose diseases. That is only for a licensed Veterinarian to do. I will give you suggestions and steer you toward calling your vet for help. You can call the vet's office and talk to the technician there or the vet at times. Don't be afraid to call them! If you have a serious issue with your pet please post it to one of the veterinarians in here- I will tell you the same thing in my answer. IF your pet is injured or in an emergency situation, CALL YOUR VET- Do not wait and post in here. Just call the vet's office and get them in to see the vet right away. Critical treatment time is lost if you seek answers here when you should have your precious pet at the vets!! Don't sit at home waiting for an answer when your pet is critically ill or injured!! I can answer most questions about small animal and wildlife care as well as small animal nutrition. I can also answer questions about all phases of dental care for small animals. I DO NOT answer questions about birds (unless it is wildlife or songbirds) or HAMSTERS/GERBILS/CHINS/GUINEA PIGS/REPTILES/FROGS/RABBITS/PET BIRDS OF ANY KIND so please submit these questions to the appropriate sections. I, as well as other experts in here, do NOT do homework questions- that is for YOU to do! Please respect these rules for all of us. Thanks!


I have over 35 years experience in the field of veterinary medicine. I specialized in small animals and did wildlife rehab for over 25 years, mostly raptors, squirrels and opossums. I am a Small Animal Nutritional Consultant with 6 certificates from Hills Pet Foods, CNM and Purina. I also specialized in Small Animal Dentistry which is a field I truly love.

Audubon,World Wildlife Federation, American Society of Veterinary Dental Technicians.

Licensed with California and Oregon, RVT and CVT. Certified Veterinary Dental Technician Have over 550 logged hours of Continuing Education Credits(that means I keep up to date!).

Awards and Honors
Nominated for Expert of the Month for the last 5 years.

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