Why Watching for Sprains and Strains is Vital for Your Dog’s Health
There are numerous reasons to keep an eye out for sprains and strains in your dog. These issues can become chronic over time, especially if they’re not allowed to heal properly. They can also lead to bone degeneration, muscle weakness, and permanent lameness in the limb.
Other times, a dog can injure another leg by overcompensating for the sprained leg. This can result in your dog becoming nearly immobilized.
What to Look for When Spotting a Sprained Leg in Your Dog
When a dog is injured they have a tendency to overreact or underreact. This may mean that your dog will respond by appearing much more injured than they are (not putting any weight on their foot, for example). Some dogs barely even wince when they get hurt, but with time, will begin to show more obvious signs of injury. Your dog’s response to an injury may also reflect the severity of the sprain.
The most apparent sign of a sprained leg is that your dog will begin to limp or change their natural gait to accommodate the injured leg. This is because your dog will shift their weight to the uninjured paw to reduce the pain in their injured leg.
You may also hear your dog cry out when landing, playing, or running. There’s a good chance your dog either pulled a muscle, stepped on something painful, or injured their tendon.
Other signs include:
- A swollen paw
- Redness or swollen joints
- Reluctance to walk or play
- Irritability towards other dogs or people
- Crying out from time to time when walking
- Sensitivity to touch of the injured area
If you notice your dog limping, it can be quite frightening. There’s no need to panic, though. Minor sprains will heal on their own, and sometimes a dog will immediately begin limping if they perceive they may be injured even if they’re not. This is kind of like a human’s reaction to hitting their funny bone. You may immediately grab your elbow but within a minute the pain and discomfort dissipate.
So, if you notice signs that your dog may have sprained their leg, you want to give them a day before contacting your vet. Of course, if your dog is showing signs of acute pain or you believe the injury may be more severe, such as a broken bone, you will want to call your vet ASAP.
Swelling and Bruising
While you won’t see anything as dramatic as an open wound with a bone sticking out of it, a sprained leg can experience bleeding beneath the skin. This typically leads to bruising and swelling in the knee, leg, and/or paw.