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Dog Health Advice & Tips for Pet Owners

by Geoff Works •

What are the Most Common Dog Injuries?

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. Symptoms include: Stiffness Limping 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 Bone Fractures 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 Limping Whining Carpal Hyperextension 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: Lameness Swelling 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 Bleeding Pain Limping Reluctance to move Ear Injuries 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: Bleeding Swelling Discharge Ear scratching Head shaking Eye Trauma 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: Redness 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: Vomiting Diarrhea Abdominal pain Decrease in appetite Difficulty defecating Producing small amounts of feces Happy Tail 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 Heatstroke 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 Drooling Vomiting Diarrhea Collapse Reddening gums Uncoordinated movement Dullness or loss of consciousness Hip Dislocation 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: Vomiting Diarrhea Drooling Low blood pressure Slow heart rate Stomach pain Tremors Lameness 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 Lethargy Whimpering Discomfort Raised fur along the top of their tail Oral Trauma 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 Drooling Lumps on the lips, tongue, or cheek Pus or blood in the mouth Swelling and inflammation Puncture Wounds 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 Bleeding Swelling Pain Infection Redness Swelling and loss of muscle mass Poisoning 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 Injury 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: Shivering Refusal to get up Yelping when being picked up Arched back Pulled-in head Limping Dragging of back legs Loss of function and coordination Pain Torn Nails 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 Limping 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.

by Geoff Works •

by Geoff Works •

Everything You Need to Know About Dog Splint Care

Since dogs are naturally playful, getting into an injury is unavoidable. When this happens, conducting first aid is a must to prevent the injury from getting worse. If your dog breaks a bone, for instance, one of the most common dog leg injury solutions is a splint. But what is a splint? A splint is a device that immobilizes and supports an injured limb. It is made of durable and rigid materials so it won’t come off despite constant or abrupt movements. A split prevents further complications and speeds up your dog’s recovery time. In this blog, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about dog splints. How to Splint Broken Dog Bones Using a splint for dogs can help reduce swelling and immobilize an injury. Even though it doesn’t wrap entirely around your dog’s leg like a cast, it is still an effective method to treat leg injuries. For example, you can use a splint for carpal joint osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease, or other soft tissue injuries. Whether you’re splinting your dog’s front or hind legs, you’ll be following the same procedure.  Observe the injured leg and take your pet to the vet. When you take your dog to the vet, they’ll use medical tape or elastic gauze to bind the leg with the plaster. The material your vet will use for the dog splint will depend on how big your pet is and how long their leg is. Your vet will wet the plaster and prepare the splint material on the dressing table. Your vet will run the wet strips of plaster down the cranial (anterior) and caudal (posterior) aspects of your dog’s leg while making sure that the distance between the two are the same. After that, the vet will wrap the gauze or bandage in a circular motion around the plaster.  The splint will be flexed to align with your dog’s leg. This way, even when your dog is wearing the splint, they can still move naturally. For additional security, your vet will apply tape to the splint. How Effective is a Splint in Treating Leg Injuries? Dog splints can help your pet recover faster from a front or rear leg injury. But the length of recovery will depend on secondary complications, such as infections or swelling.  Most adult dogs require wearing a splint for a few weeks until they’re fully recovered. For good measure, consult your vet to know how long your dog needs the splint and how often you should replace it.  How Much Does a Splint Cost? The cost of a broken bone can range between $200 to over $1,000. If the injury is just a minor fracture, your pet will simply need to wear a sling and get proper bedrest. But if it’s a compound fracture, your pooch may require surgery or steel plates inserted into their limbs. If your vet decides that your dog requires a splint, there are two factors that indicate the cost of a dog splint: the severity of the injury and how much the procedure costs. The price could vary depending on the clinic, however. For example, splinting an extremity can cost as much as $2,000.  How to Prevent Dog Splint Injuries The need for a dog splint can easily be avoided by making sure your dog is safe when playing or running. Make sure you dog-proof your space to prevent serious injuries. If you plan to take your dog outside, use a leash or have your pooch play in a fenced-in yard.  There are various ways your pet can sustain an injury. For example, they could fall from a height or get into an injury after getting carried away while playing with other dogs. At-Home Splint Care Tips Caring for your dog’s injury doesn’t stop after getting them a splint — aftercare is just as essential. After all, complications are more likely to arise if a dog fails to receive proper care at home. Here are a few of our dog splint care tips: Make sure the splint fits properly  Damaged splints can cause more harm than good. So make sure that the device is in good condition and let your vet know if the splint doesn’t fit properly or comes loose easily. But make sure you don’t attempt to repair the damaged dog splint since it could cause more complications. Keep the device clean and dry Keep the bandage or splint dry at all times because water could seep through the layers and cause an infection. Apart from preventing water from seeping in, check if the splint has been soiled by mud, blood, or feces. An unclean splint should be removed and reapplied. Apply waterproof coverings when needed If you plan to take your dog outside, make sure to place a waterproof covering, like a plastic bag, over the splint to prevent it from getting wet.  But keep in mind that the plastic bag should only be used for short periods (no more than 60 minutes at a time) because the moisture could easily build up inside. So don’t forget to remove the plastic bag immediately once you arrive in a safe, dry environment. Wearing a wet dog splint for more than 24 hours could cause a skin infection, after all. Prevent chewing and licking Your dog’s natural response is to lick or chew on the splint. Consider getting a device for additional splint protection, like a restraint collar or protective sleeve. The ideal leg protection device should have a sure-fit design and offer full leg coverage. Regardless of the device you choose, make sure it allows natural movement. Regularly check the bandage and splint A bandage recheck must be done every 48 hours in case it’s loose or damaged. On a similar vein, make sure to check the splint every 2-7 days to make sure it’s aligned and fits properly. Inspect for loose or tight splints Always check the condition of your dog’s splint. Loose bandages may easily untangle and tight wraps can cause swelling. Check your dog’s toes or the skin underneath the splint at least once a day for any signs that the splint could be too tight or loose. Consult your veterinarian Contact your clinic and bring your dog in for a recheck appointment and reapplication of the splint. Your vet will also track the healing process of your dog’s injury. Tips for DIY Casting If your pet gets into an accident and you can’t bring them to the vet right away, you’ll need to know how to perform the first aid yourself. Tending to their injuries can help ensure that no further injury happens to your dog’s ligaments and muscles. After all, transporting a dog with an untreated wound can be dangerous.  Here’s a quick guide on how to splint a dog’s leg at home. Inform your local veterinarian. Describe the injury in detail. Your vet may also provide minor first aid directions.  Keep your dog calm. Keep your dog calm so they don’t injure themselves further. You can place a muzzle on your dog’s snout to prevent growling or biting. If no device is available, use a towel or ask help from someone to keep your dog under control.  Use a sturdy item for a make-shift splint. When making a temporary cast, make sure the item you’ll use is durable enough to keep your dog’s leg in place. Thick cardboard or a rolled-up newspaper typically works for larger dogs. Meanwhile, you may use a pencil or small ruler for smaller dogs. The item should also be long enough to extend past the injured limb for stability. Wrap the item with gauze. You may use medical tape to secure the gauze for your DIY splint. Just make sure it’s not too tight or loose. Bring your dog to the vet immediately. DIY casts are only a temporary solution. Bring your pet to the vet for a long-term splint that’ll help your dog recover from injury.  Address Urgent Injuries with Dog Splints Dogs get injured, and sometimes it could result in a broken bone. The good news is that fractures and wounds heal as long as they get the proper treatment. The affected limb will return to its near-normal condition and regain its strength. So provide the necessary support and ease your dog slowly back into an active lifestyle. Want to learn more about how you can keep your pet happy and healthy? Visit our blog for dog care tips.

by Geoff Works •



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