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Everything You Need to Know About Dog Leg Strains & Sprains

by Geoff Works |

Dogs are active creatures that love to roam and play. However, something as simple as a misstep or accident could compromise their mobility. Any of those problems can lead to injuries, including strains and sprains.

If you and your dog live an active lifestyle, learning about dog sprains and strains is a must. That way, you’ll know what to do if your dog ever encounters these injuries. Read on to learn more about strains and sprains and how to treat them.

What is a Dog Strain?

A strain is an injury to your pet’s tendons or the connective tissues between the bones and muscles. If your furry friend stretches its tendons, muscles, or ligaments it could hurt these soft tissues.

Any of the following could result in a strained leg:

  • Improper falls, bends, or stretches
  • Excessive weight
  • Overuse
  • Past injuries
  • Sudden changes in movement

The severity of a strain can range from a mild injury to a torn muscle or tendon.

What are the Symptoms of a Strain?

If your dog sustains a strain, it can show the following symptoms:

  • Limping
  • Swelling in the affected area
  • Whining
  • Irregular eating habits or behavior 

In some cases, a serious strain or pulled muscle can keep your pet from moving the affected muscles. Your dog can weaken and stop moving its legs as a result.

How is a Dog Muscle Strain Treated?

Your pet’s treatment will depend on how the strain happened. If your dog has a minor strain, your vet will most likely cover the injured area with bandages. They may also prescribe pain medicine to help ease any aches caused by the injury.

More importantly, make sure that the injury heals completely. Let your dog rest and prevent it from performing vigorous activities like jumping and playing for at least two weeks. Keep in mind that the injury could get worse if your dog moves improperly while in recovery.

How Long Does a Strain Take to Heal?

In most cases, a strain will subside anytime within a few days to a couple of weeks. It’s best to follow your vet’s advice to ensure a full and smooth recovery.

What is a Sprain in Dogs?

A sprain affects any of your dog’s ligaments. This injury happens when the affected tissue sustains physical trauma.

Sprains can stem from the following factors:

  • Physical activity
  • Joint degeneration
  • Accidents

A dog leg sprain is the most common type of sprain in dogs. It can affect the wrist or elbow, or even the shoulder and hip joints.

How Severe Can a Dog’s Sprain Get?

Like strains, the severity of a sprain can vary. Your vet will classify the severity of your dog’s injury into any of the following categories after performing a physical exam.

Grade I

  • The affected ligament has a mild tear.
  • Your pet can still move the injured joint.
  • The injured joint is swollen and painful, but your dog can still walk.

Grade II

  • The injured ligament sustains a bigger tear or gets stretched.
  • Swelling can be observed in the affected joint.
  • Your dog limps or experiences difficulty while walking.
  • The sprain limits joint movement.

Grade III

  • Your pet has a seriously damaged or fully torn ligament.
  • Your pet’s bones can go out of place.
  • Your dog is unable to put weight on its paw.

What are the Symptoms of a Sprain?

Sprains share a lot of symptoms with conditions like strains and mild fractures. But dog sprain symptoms will depend on how serious the injury is.

Here’s what you should watch out for if your dog has a sprained leg:

  • Your pet licks its joints or legs excessively.
  • Your dog limps while walking.
  • Your pet loses its appetite.
  • Your dog experiences intense pain when moving.
  • Your pet’s joints have a reddish color.
  • Your pet avoids putting weight on its paw or limb.
  • Your pet has swollen joints or paws.
  • Your dog refrains from moving around.
  • Your pet exhibits aggressive behavior.
  • Your dog cries or whines.

How is a Dog’s Sprained Leg Treated?

If you notice that your dog has a sprain, call your vet right away. While you reach out to your vet, you can apply ice to the injured joint to ease the discomfort and swelling.

The severity of your dog’s leg sprain will determine the type of care your pet will receive. Let’s look at the possible treatment methods.

  • Grade I sprains - Your vet will apply a splint on the affected area to restrict your pet’s movement and recommend anti-inflammatory medicine.
  • Grade II sprains - Your vet will splint the injured joint and prescribe medicine. They may also recommend surgery to address more serious damage.
  • Grade III sprains - At this point, your dog might need surgery for its injured ligament. Your pet can undergo cranial or anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) surgery. Doctors can perform traditional or laser surgery on your dog.

How Long Does a Sprain Take to Heal in a Dog?

Sprains in dogs have different recovery times. Here’s what you can expect as your pet undergoes treatment.

  • Grade I sprains are minor and can heal within weeks.
  • Grade II sprains improve with treatment. However, these injuries can take more time to heal, especially if your pet undergoes surgery.
  • If your dog has a Grade III sprain, recovery can extend from weeks to months.

Ensure a Smooth Recovery from Injury

A strain or sprain can make your pet inactive for a few weeks. It can be hard not knowing what to do especially if you aren’t familiar with how the injuries work and why they happen. But as long as you’re aware of the symptoms and treatment options, it’s a big step forward in helping your dog recovery.

Looking to ensure a stress-free recovery for your dog? Visit our website today and check out how the Lick Sleeve can help.

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