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Dog leg sprain

Dog Leg Sprain - Information on Dog Leg Dislocation, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

It is quite natural for any pet owner to get all worked up after seeing a dog leg injury, regardless of how minor it may seem.

This is because even the smallest injury could cause a lot of pain and discomfort to your dog. While there are several types of leg injuries that can affect canines, some of the more common ones include dog leg dislocation and dog leg sprain. Fractures are also quite a common, yet serious problem in canines.

Dog Leg Dislocation

It may not always be possible for you to realize immediately that your dog has a dislocated leg. However, after a while, you may notice that your dog limps while walking, or holds his leg up in the air, to avoid putting any weight on it while standing. In case of a leg dislocation, your dog will also avoid moving that leg as much as possible. At the same time, your dog may not really indicate that it is in pain by crying or whining, even if a leg joint has been dislocated. If you do notice the symptoms of a dog leg dislocation, it is important for you to consult a vet at the earliest.

The treatment will depend on the joint that has been dislocated, as well as its severity. In some cases, vets treat a dog leg dislocation by just pulling the joint back into place. However, in many instances, vets need to perform a surgery to fix a dislocated leg.

Dog Leg Sprain

One of the most common injuries affecting canines is a sprain in the leg. A dog front leg sprain or rear leg sprain is a highly painful injury that can occur at any time, especially when your dog is playing outdoors. Your dog may sprain his leg while chasing rabbits over uneven ground. Any unnatural movement or twist could cause your dog to suffer from a sprain in the front or rear leg.

Unfortunately, identifying a leg sprain in dogs can be challenge for even the most seasoned pet owners.

However, there are several dog leg sprain symptoms that can let you know what the problem is. Apart from swelling in the area, there are many other signs that may be evident. First of all, it is natural for your dog to refrain from physical activity after a sprain. Some of the most common symptoms of dog leg or a dog ankle sprain include:

• Crying or whining
• Limping
• Lethargy
• Dragging of the foot
• Bleeding from a wound in a few instances
• Snapping or irritable behavior
• Stiffness in gait

As soon as any of the dog leg sprain symptoms become evident, it is absolutely essential for you to have a vet examine your pet carefully. This is all the more important in case of puppy leg sprain, as a serious injury could have a long-lasting effect on the way a young dog walks.

Dog Leg Sprain Causes and Symptoms


A dog leg sprain is a commonly occurring injury. When a joint is suddenly moved in a sharp manner, it can cause tearing or stretching of the surrounding ligaments. This can take place in any of the front or rear legs of the dog. Canine leg sprains usually occur during rough play or when the dog walks on slippery, icy or muddy ground. Unnatural twists or sudden movements can lead to spraining of the leg.

Some of the dog sprained leg symptoms include swelling and pain around the area of the joint. Treatment for this condition commonly involves adequate rest and anti-inflammatory medications. Sprains can be quite painful for the dog but recovery can take place in a quick and healthy manner if the proper care is given. After full recovery, it is important to take measures to ensure that further dog leg injuries does not occur. When you notice that your dog has sprained his leg, stop all activity and if possible, bring him indoors. Place a cold compress such as an ice pack on the affected leg. It is important not to place the ice directly on the skin. Secure the compress in place using an elastic bandage. Cold compress treatment must be continued for at least 24 hours after the injury. After that, a warm compress or a heating pad can be used. Restrict activity for a period of 5 to 7 days. As the dog recuperates, the veterinarian may prescribe certain medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs. This will help to curb the inflammation and reduce pain which usually occur in cases of joint sprains. When joint pain occurs, the dog’s body produces prostaglandin, a chemical which leads to inflammation. Anti-inflammatory drugs help to restrict the production of prostaglandin thereby alleviating symptoms of pain and swelling. The heat and redness that occurs in the affected joint will also subside. Gradually, start leash walking your dog so that endurance can be built.

Dog Sprained Legs Treatment


Canine sprained leg treatment commonly involves the administration of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. However, these drugs may sometimes be associated with heart, liver and kidney problems. As such blood and urine tests must be performed by the veterinarian, before these drugs can be given. In order to prevent leg sprains it is essential for your dog to have a healthy weight as obesity can exert pressure on the joints and increase the risk of injuries.  Also, caution must be used when on icy or slippery areas.

The treatment of a leg sprain in dogs may vary, depending on the severity and therefore, most vets only decide the appropriate course of treatment, after conducting a detailed physical exam.

To reduce the pain, swelling and discomfort caused by the sprain, the vet may prescribe painkillers, as well as certain antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs. Many vets also recommend the use of certain dietary supplements, for strengthening the dog’s bones and joints.

You will need to ensure that your dog does not engage in any stressful physical activity, during the recovery phase. The dog leg sprain recovery period could last for around a week or even more, depending upon your dog’s overall health. Before you allow your dog to resume his normal activities, do make sure that you get him checked by the vet.

  Submitted on September 9, 2011  

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