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Athletic Injuries In Dogs

Athletic Injuries In Dogs

If your dog is usually the life of the dog park, but has been less than enthusiastic about running after their favorite ball lately, they could be suffering from an athletic injury. Our Ypsilanti vets share information about signs of injury in active dogs, and ways to help your pooch to get back to their energetic selves.

Athletic Injuries In Dogs

Most dogs are adventurous, active animals, so when they sustain an injury during playing, training or hunting it can have a big impact on their daily wellbeing. More than a third of athletic dogs, especially spoprting and hunting dogs, will experience an injury at least once in their life. These athletic injuries can range from bruising to strains and sprains, but regardless of severity it is important to have a veterinarian assess your pooch as soon as you can.

Signs Of Athletic Injuries In Dogs 

The symptoms that your dog shows will depend on which area of the body has sustained the athletic injury. Some common signs of injury include:

  • Swelling
  • Limping
  • Muscle weakness, signs of pain
  • Less range of motion
  • Difficulty standing, falling
  • Audible popping or scraping when limbs or injured area is manipulated
  • Deformity
  • Whining / yelping
  • Depression
  • Refusal to play or perform tricks

Types Of Athletic Injuries In Dogs 

There are a few common types of athletic injuries that dogs can experience: 

  • Injuries to the paw (e.g. punctures, lacerations, hyperPaw injuries such as punctures, lacerations, tendon injury, and hyperextension
  • Elbow and ankle injuries such as sprain, strain, joint or ligament damage
Shoulder injuries such as sprain, strain, joint or ligament damage
Hind limb injuries are common, including rupture of the cranial cruciate ligament (CCL), knee displacement, hip dysplasia, muscle or ligament tear, and joint injuries

What Causes Athletic Injuries In Dogs?

Certain breeds, especially sporting and hunting dogs, are more predisposed than others to sustaining athletic injuries. It can be as simple as an activity or trick that isn't ideal for your dog's body type or physical activity. Before strenuous activity or a lively play session, consider warming up your dog if you know they're prone to injury. 

Some breeds that seem to have a propensity for athletic injuries include: 

  • Spaniels
  • Setters
  • Retrievers
  • Pointers
  • Collies

Diagnosing Athletic Injuries In Dogs

Your veterinarian will need as much information from you as possible about what was happening when your pooch sustained their injury. You should also provide your vet with your dog's medical and immunization records. The veterinarian will perform a physical examination on your dog, checking for injuries or damage to limbs, organs and muscles. Your vet may also order X-rays to check for damage to your pet's joints, or broken bones. 

In order to properly identify the presence of damage to the ligaments and muscles, your dog will likely need an ultrasound. A CT scan or MRI can also provide more information, as can diagnostic tests like urinalysis, blood count, and other advanced tests to search for abnormalities.

Treatment Of Athletic Injuries In Dogs

The treatment your veterinarian provides may be medical or surgical, depending on the injury and severity of the damage.

Paw Injuries

If your pooch has an injured paw like a deep cut or a puncture wound, your veterinarian will clean and bandage it if isn't a serious injury, then provide antibiotics to fight potential infection. In the case of damaged tendons or tendinitis, your dog may also receive a muscle relaxer or NSAIDs for inflammation. If your dog's injury is severe, they may need to get stitches and a splint to prevent them from putting pressure on the healing paw. 

Depending on the nature of your dog's injury, your vet could recommend physical therapy. 

Elbow, Ankle, and Shoulder Injuries

Your vet will use NSAIDS to treat inflammation associated with strains and sprains, then apply a wrap to ensure the area remains stable as your pet recovers from their injury. If your dog has injured their joints or ligaments, they often require surgical intervention to fix the damage and they may be kept overnight for observation.

Injury To The Hind Limbs

If your dog's hind leg athletic injury isn't severe, your vet will often prescribe NSAIDS and apply a pressure wrap. They will also supply instructions for at-home care. If, however, the injury is severe, it may require surgery to address the damage and your dog may need to stay in the hospital for a short while. Regardless of the severity of the injury, your dog will need rest and rehabilitation to fully recuperate. 

Your Dog's Recovery From Athletic Injuries

Regardless of the injury, your vet is almost certain to recommend that your dog rest and recuperate. In order to maintain the function and range of motion in your dog's injured limb, they will need to undergo physical rehabilitation, which could include aquatic therapy, balance exercises, or spinal manipulation therapy. Your veterinarian is able to use their extensive experience to help you choose the best treatment option for your pet's unique needs.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your dog has a pulled muscle or other athletic injury, contact us about options for rehabilitation and treatment. Our Ypsilanti vet team is experienced in helping your beloved pets feel better.

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