Dogs are a bundle of joy that we welcome into our lives. We provide them with food and water, a comfortable place to live, and shower them with unconditional love. Sometimes, we even pick out a nice outfit for them. However, no matter how much we take care of them, we can’t prevent them from getting into an accident or suffering from an injury.
We’ve listed some of the most common dog injuries below. We’ve explained each condition in detail by including their causes and symptoms.
Common Dog Injuries
Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear
The anterior cruciate ligament or ACL (cranial cruciate ligament in dogs) is an essential part of your dog’s knee. It is a vital support structure that provides stability so your dog can stand upright and walk properly. It is located in the middle of their knee and connects the femur and tibia. An ACL injury in dogs is one of the most common limb complications.
The causes of this dog knee injury include lack of exercise, an unhealthy diet, and being overweight or obese. Moreover, there are specific breeds that are more at risk than other dogs. ACL tears in dogs can be treated through surgery and requires a significant period of recovery.
- Tendency to use the healthy leg over the other
- Difficulty jumping or standing up
- Sitting with one leg sticking out to the side
- Clicking sounds when walking
Fractured bones result from accidents such as stepping into holes, falling from a great height, or getting into a car accident. Some bones that are more prone to getting broken are the femur, pelvis, skull, jaw, and spine.
Bone fracture cases can be classified as either closed or open. For closed fractures, the bone breaks but it doesn’t result in any open wounds or punctures to the skin. On the other hand, open fractures result in a wound with the bone exposed. Simple injuries may require a splint or cast to help in recovery, while critical conditions require surgery.
Symptoms of bone fractures are:
- Broken bone sticking out
- Pain and discomfort
A dog’s skeleton has a series of single bones held together by muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Carpal hypertension affects the carpus or the joints in the lower front limb of the dog. Since dogs walk on all fours, they put a lot of weight on their carpus. In fact, these joints support nearly three-quarters of their body weight.
The most common cause of carpal hyperextension is a traumatic incident, like falling from a significant height. The breed and age of your dog could also make it more prone to developing this condition.
Symptoms of this dog front leg injury can be seen as:
- Sinking of the paw to the ground
- Flexed carpus
- Excessive looseness
- Joint instability
- Tendency to use the healthy leg over the other
Cuts and Scratches
It’s not unusual for a dog to get cuts and scratches. Since they walk on their bare paws, they can easily step on rocks or sharp objects like splinters, nails, and needles. These foreign objects could get stuck between their toes or inside their paw pads.
Dog paw injuries should be thoroughly cleaned and bandaged. In more severe cases, stitches may be required, especially if the wound is rather big.
Symptoms you should watch out for include:
- Visible wounds
- Reluctance to move
Your dog may experience many different ear injuries, including bite wounds, swelling, and bleeding. Dogs tend to bite each other whenever they play. However, some pooches get too excited that they end up injuring their playmate. Stopping the bleeding can be tricky because the ear is also a difficult area to cover to place a bandage over.
On the other hand, swelling can indicate a hematoma or ruptured blood vessel. Hematomas are usually caused by excessive head shaking due to ear infections.
Symptoms to keep an eye out for are:
- Ear scratching
- Head shaking
A dog eye injury is likely to happen because of your pet’s playfulness. Whenever they run around or stick their heads out of a vehicle, their eyes could catch debris or dirt.
Even the slightest dog eye injury could develop into a wound infection and result in a loss of vision. The complications could range from mild (scratches in the cornea and abrasions) to severe (perforations and corneal ulcers). At the first signs of an eye injury, be sure to see your vet immediately.
Symptoms you may notice are:
- Bulging and swelling
- Noticeable wounds
- Squinting or twitching
- Tendency to avoid bright lights
- Excess tearing and blinking
- Watery, yellow, or green discharge
Foreign Object Ingestion
Dogs are naturally curious and love to investigate new sights, smells, and tastes. But because they like to explore, they could end up eating something inedible, including paper, clothing, sticks, wrappers, rocks, and other foreign objects.
Some objects pass through their intestinal tract easily. However, some stay in their stomach for longer and cause complications. Moreover, defecating sharp objects may be difficult, painful, and require a vet’s help.
Symptoms of this include:
- Abdominal pain
- Decrease in appetite
- Difficulty defecating
- Producing small amounts of feces
Dogs love to wag their tail, especially when they’re happy and see their favorite person. However, sometimes vigorous tail wagging could lead to trauma, like what happens when it gets bitten by an animal or when it gets caught in a door.
Large dog breeds may experience a dog tail injury known as “happy tail.” It happens when your dog wags their tails too vigorously against a hard surface. Because the tip of the tail has a thin layer of skin, it could easily bruise. As a result, dogs with happy tail can be challenging to treat because once they feel well enough, they could be at risk of re-injury.
Symptoms of this dog tail injury are:
- Bald spots on the tail
- Bleeding profusely
- Tail biting
Playing outside on a sunny day is a great way to spend time with your dog. However, it’s best to just play indoors if you feel that it’s too hot outside. After all, high temperatures could put your dog at risk of a heatstroke.
With that said, pet owners should never leave dogs inside the car, even with the windows down. The high temperature, inadequate airflow, and closed ventilation make dogs unable to thermoregulate.
Heatstroke occurs when your pet’s body temperature exceeds the normal range. It is most common in dogs that are short-snouted, overweight, or thick-coated. Failure to treat heat stroke could result in multiple organ failure, and in severe cases, death.
Symptoms of heatstroke in dogs are:
- Excessive panting
- Reddening gums
- Uncoordinated movement
- Dullness or loss of consciousness
Dislocated hips often occur in dogs that get into a car accident. The force of impact could cause tearing in the ligament that attaches the femur to the hip socket. It could also result in partial or complete disruption of the normal joint. Hip dysplasia or malformed hip joints is also one of the causes of this condition.
Symptoms of this dog hip injury are:
- Pain and discomfort
- Inability of hind legs to support weight
- Affected leg appears shorter than the other leg
Ingested Toxic Plants
Plants can beautify any household. However, what many home and pet owners fail to realize is that some garden and houseplants can be toxic for their pets. Daffodils, tulips, and lilies are some of the plants you should keep away from your dogs, especially puppies.
If you plan to place a plant in the household or have a home garden, always consider the kind of plant you want to have around. Take extra measures to ensure that your home is a safe and healthy environment for your pets.
The symptoms will depend on the plant ingested, but the most common are the following:
- Low blood pressure
- Slow heart rate
- Stomach pain
Lameness is another common dog leg injury. It’s defined as a dog’s inability to use one or more limbs and it can be a passing or constant sensation. It can happen to dogs of all ages but lameness in older dogs is usually caused by the weakening of their bones and joints.Younger dogs can also be prone to the condition if they over exercise since their body structure hasn’t properly formed yet.
Symptoms of lameness are:
- Inability to bear weight on hind legs
- Inability to walk or run normally
- Pain and discomfort
- Slow walking
- Knuckling or not placing a paw on the floor
Limber Tail Syndrome
Another kind of dog tail injury is called “limber tail syndrome.” If your dog has this condition, their tail goes limp and flaccid. It’s often the result of a sprain or strain and it typically resolves on its own after a few days. But if the condition persists, we recommend that you see a veterinarian.
Symptoms of this dog tail injury are the following:
- Limp tail from base to tip
- Absence of wagging
- Raised fur along the top of their tail
Dogs chew on anything, including bones, twigs, wire kennels, and furniture. These small objects can get stuck and injure their teeth, tongue, gums, and other soft tissues. Moreover, dog fights can also lead to wounds in their mouths. While minor wounds can be treated with medication, severe injuries such as laceration and tooth fractures require oral surgery.
Symptoms of oral trauma are:
- Chewing on one side of the mouth
- Lumps on the lips, tongue, or cheek
- Pus or blood in the mouth
- Swelling and inflammation
Puncture wounds are a type of injury that breaks through the skin and enters the body. For example, it could happen if your dog gets punctured by sharp objects like sticks and metals. The most common type of puncture wound is caused by another dog, however. In fact, vet clinics report that this type of injury makes up 10% of all treated puncture wounds.
It is important to immediately treat the wound as infection may occur because of licking, exposure to the material of the foreign object, or other environmental factors. Depending on the size and severity of the wound, it may be left open to naturally heal or closed through surgery.
Symptoms may be the following:
- Punctured skin
- Swelling and loss of muscle mass
Dogs will swallow anything that makes its way to their mouth, including coins, personal medication, and cleaning agents. Like toxic plants, ingesting these foreign objects can be dangerous. Moreover, human food like grapes, onions, chocolate, and chewing gum should be kept away from your pet.
The symptoms of poisoning will depend on the product that your pet has ingested.
- Chocolate - tremors, convulsions, heart issues
- Human medicine - sickness, diarrhea, kidney failure
- Rat poison - bruising and bleeding
- Grapes and raisins - kidney failure
- Onions - drooling, nausea, oral irritation, pale gums
Spinal injuries occur because of different factors like genetics, car accidents, injuries, and dog bites. But the most common cause is intervertebral disc disease (IVDD). When the intervertebral disc is compressed too much, the center could leak out and flow against the direction of your dog’s spinal cord. This condition causes inflammation and exerts pressure on their spine. Ultimately, it could lead to permanent paralysis.
Symptoms of this dog back injury depend on its location, but the most common include:
- Refusal to get up
- Yelping when being picked up
- Arched back
- Pulled-in head
- Dragging of back legs
- Loss of function and coordination
It’s natural for dogs to tear their nails at least once in their lives, especially their dewclaws (nails highest up on a dog’s front feet). After all, your dog could catch their toenails on an object and get injured. When your dog’s nail gets torn, it could split down the middle or cause the nail to partially break off.
Symptoms of this dog dew claw injury include:
- Favoring one paw over the other
- Keeping weight off one foot
- Blood on foot or footprints
Treat the Most Common Dog Injuries
Familiarize yourself with the different injuries your dog may encounter. By being aware of the various symptoms and causes of each condition, you can take immediate action before the injuries develop into something worse. Keep your dog safe and healthy so they can live a happy life.
Want to learn more about ACL tears, one of the most common canine orthopedic injuries? Visit our website today.