According to VCA Animal Hospitals, when dogs limp on their front legs, it is a common sign of osteochondritis. This medical condition is also referred to as OCD. OCD is a defect of the cartilage on the end of a bone in the shoulder, elbow, hip or knee joint. This condition causes mild to intense pain with intermittent limping. Surgical procedures to remove the affected cartilage are a common form of treatment.
According to PetMD, front leg limping in dogs can be caused by sprained muscles, slipped discs, torn ligaments and osteoarthritis. If the dog's leg is fractured or dislocated, the limb often dangles at an unnatural angle. Typically, weight-bearing lameness does not indicate a fracture. However, it is important to consult with a veterinarian to ensure proper diagnosis through x-rays and a physical examination.
Care First Animal Hospital explains that limping in dogs is a common symptom of a torn ligament. If a torn ligament is left untreated, the dog's overall knee stability can decline. Additional symptoms include stiffness upon waking and difficulty rising, sitting at an odd angle, a reluctance to jump and abnormal back posture. Potential complications of torn ligaments include arthritis and increased wear on bones and cartilage. Symptoms of torn ligaments tend to come on slowly and often go unnoticed by pet owners until the dog's pain leads to a severe limp.