Dog Limping Front Leg After Vaccination (Reasons Explained)

If you notice your dog is limping in their front leg after vaccination, there are a few things that could be happening so you should take them to the vet for a diagnosis. Some of the conditions that can cause a dog to limp after vaccination include arthritis, infection, or nerve damage.

Many people who’ve had their pets vaccinated for the first time are concerned because their dog seems to be limping and not responding like they normally do. These reactions are often temporary, and your pet will eventually recover fully. However, if your dog doesn’t respond properly after veterinarians have seen them, it might mean that something else is happening in their body.

Below are some of the main issues that need to be considered when the dog limping front leg after vaccination.

Possible Causes of Limping After Vaccination

1. Post-vaccination pain and swelling

Some dogs have allergies to the vaccines and have reactions at the injection site.

New pain and swelling can occur after vaccination. The dog cannot move normally or feels sore for days or weeks after vaccination, which usually happens in older dogs with low immunity or pre-existing diseases like arthritis, hip dysplasia or other orthopaedic problems.

2. Bruising under the skin

Post-vaccination bleeding or bruising normally lasts for up to 6 weeks after vaccination. However, it can last up to 4 months or even longer in some dogs.

3. Bone stress or strain caused by the vaccine

This is a permanent injury that results from vaccination and causes pain at the injection site and/or muscle stiffness and weakness in some susceptible dogs.

The pain caused by bone stress is worse when the dog starts to walk after resting for a long time, between morning and evening, going upstairs or down, standing up after lying down, getting up quickly with excitement or playing very hard.

4. Arthritis

Arthritis is the inflammation of a joint and normally occurs in senior dogs, but it can occur after vaccination in some dogs.

The vaccine causes arthritis-like signs and symptoms including weakness, low activity level and difficulty climbing stairs, as well as painful joints and inflammation at the injection site.

The dog may need pain medicine and cortisone shots to treat this condition.

Long term joint damage may occur after vaccination because of arthritis or bone stress.

5. Hip joint injury

The hips are 3 ball-and-socket joints with bones on top of other bones that open like a clam shell when the dog walks or runs, allowing for movement in all directions.

The hip joint is where the thigh bone connects to the femur (thighbone); this is the main area of the dog’s body that ages and becomes harder to move.

The adductor muscles may also become fatigued after vaccination.

6. Mast cell tumors

Mast cells are small, round-shaped cells in the body that help defend against infection.

They release chemicals such as histamine and leukotrienes to cause an immune response, which usually occurs when a foreign substance enters through a break in the skin or puncture from a needle or sharp object.

After vaccination, the dog may have reactions to the vaccine that cause a lot of swelling, pain and redness at the injection site.

The dog may feel weak when getting up and moving around after resting, doing a lot of physical activity, getting excited or feeling cold.

7. Behavioral issue

The behavioral issue may be caused by pain and not all dogs with pain show it outwardly; some will start to bite their owners or other people without any warning.

There are many different kinds of pain in different parts of the body that can lead to aggressive behavior like this.

8. Hip dysplasia:

Hip dysplasia is a disease of the hip joints.

This mainly affects the larger breeds and may be caused by an endocrine imbalance or by infections that enter from other joints like the elbow, causing inflammation and pain in the joint.

It can also cause different kinds of immune disorders that affect different body systems because the whole body is connected through nerves and muscles.

There are many different kinds of immune disorders including cancers, arthritis, infections, allergies and autoimmune diseases that can be caused by vaccinations.

9. Allergic reaction to vaccines

Allergies are a type of immune system reaction in which the body reacts to a foreign substance (allergen) that has entered the body.

Allergies can be mild or severe, and some are triggered by dust mites, pollen, feather dander and food.

The exact cause is unknown but it is suspected to be genetic and may be due to many different factors including your lifestyle, diet, genetics, environment and even stress.

Allergic reactions usually develop gradually over time.

When vaccination occurs, some dogs develop allergy-like reactions that cause pain at the injection site or in nearby muscles like the legs or hips.

Most dogs recover in a few days while others take weeks to months to recover.

10. The dog was given the vaccination in a stressful situation

Giving a vaccine under stress increases the risk for an allergic reaction, so try to realize this when you vaccinate your dog, and if possible vaccinate him outdoors in a quiet place where there are fewer stimuli around.

11.Vaccinated while suffering a fever

This can present a problem if not caught right away. A vaccine should never be administered while an animal is suffering from fever.

12. Trauma (such as falls) could cause soft tissue trauma in the knee

Usually, they will occur after a heavy fall or accident following a vaccination when the body is stressed because of the stress of an injury.

13. Overvaccination

A possible cause of limping in dogs is overvaccination, which can lead to chronic pain and weakness in the affected limb.

If your pup got too many vaccinations this year or has an underlying health problem that makes him more sensitive to vaccines, then he may be limping because his body is struggling to clear the vaccine out of his system; or because he’s feeling run down from stress and not resting enough.

Check with your vet about how many vaccinations you should give your dog each year.

14. Inadequate Rest After Vaccination

Some dogs may become so sensitized to vaccines that they develop painful, persistent symptoms days or weeks after the shot.

The most important thing you can do is rest your dog after vaccination.

It’s not uncommon for animals to be “off their feed” with excitement for a few hours after they’ve just received their shots; some pups will get up from play to eat then and sometimes need a little extra attention when they’re recovering from vaccines as they often aren’t able to fully relax and sleep, even if they don’t feel uncomfortable.

Simply take your pup out for a walk or play session (or do something fun together) every day for at least half an hour, and keep him well-hydrated.


These kinds of injuries from vaccination can be prevented if your dog is healthy and does not have pre-existing diseases or old age.

It is also important to know that the reactions may occur in any part of the body including the muscles, joints, bones, nerves, immune system and other systems.

Post-vaccination pain can be seen or felt in the legs that often affects older dogs; a dog may also appear depressed and restless because of the pain.

The dog may feel very energetic after he recovers, but it can take a long time for him to get back to normal.

These reactions may be treated with pain medication and muscle relaxants.

Always consult a veterinarian if possible.


VCA Hospitals



Time for the disclaimer: The author of this article is not a veterinarian, and the information provided in this article has been extracted from various sources. If you have any doubt about the validity of this information, please consult with your veterinarian or someone else who knows about vaccinations and canine ailments. The author claims no responsibility for any consequences that may arise from the use of this information.


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