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Dog Sprained Leg [Peril Symptoms and How to Cure]

Updated by Sheryl on Sep 30, 2021

Is your adorable pup limping, getting uncomfortable during specific movements, or lagging behind on walks around the block? The pooch might be suffering from a dog sprained leg.

Like humans, dogs can also suffer strained or sprained legs, limbs, and ankles. Luckily most sprains aren't an emergency, and if equipped with some basic knowledge, pet parents can quickly solve this issue.

Today we will help you understand how you can assist your dog recover from a dog sprained leg. Read on for pointers to get your pooch back on all four paws.

dog sprained leg
  • Dog sprained leg symptoms
  • Dog sprained leg vs. strains
  • Causes of dog sprained leg
  • Diagnosis
  • How to cure dog sprained leg
  • Final Notes

Symptoms of dog's sprained leg mainly depend on the severity of this injury and can range from barely noticeable to occasional limping.

Lameness is usually the first indicator of this injury, signaling that your pup is uncomfortable. This pain may also follow by minor to notable inflammation. If the sprain goes untreated, lameness is likely to continue, weakening the leg muscles over time. Plus, when a sprain occurs in one leg, the other leg is forced to absorb additional pressure. This extra load and stress put the unaffected leg at risk of ligament damage. Some other symptoms include:

  • Obvious Pain
  • Reddened joints
  • Swollen joints
  • Swollen paws
  • Loss of appetite
  • Excessive paw and joint licking
  • Reluctancy to put any weight on a particular foot or limb.
dog sprained leg

A dog sprained leg is a soft tissue injury causing damage to the ligament. This injury is common in dogs and is usually caused by some sort of physical trauma. Sprains can occur at any joint but are most common in the ankle, knee, and elbow joints. Dogs may suffer from sprains due to some physical activity, traumatic accidents, and degeneration of joints. Overweight and highly energetic pups who like to jump a lot are also at high risk.

On the other side, strains are minor injuries that may cause a fluff ball to limp. These injuries involve damage to the tendon, which is a connective tissue linking bones to muscles. Any of our four-legged friends can get a strain if it stretches too far or too frequently. Usually, athletic dogs are more prone to get strains, but it can also happen if a pooch jump, slips, or falls during playtime.

The symptoms of sprains are pretty identical to other disorders, so they should be evaluated by a professional veterinarian.

Most soft tissue damages are caused by trauma and injuries. Your dog may develop a sprain due to some traumatic incidents such as dog fights or automobile accidents. Slipping on ice and too ambitious jumps can also contribute to a sprain. Fast-growing dog breeds are more prone to soft tissue damages.

bandaged dog leg

Muscle strain, bone degeneration, muscle injury, fractures, and cancerous conditions have some of the same symptoms as sprains. Therefore, anything that seems more than a small sprain necessitates being attended by a specialized vet. Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical checkup, keenly observing the muscles and joints. Typically, x-rays are used to get a better visual image of the joint and surrounding bones. It also helps to rule out other joint-related issues such as osteoarthritis and mild fractures. Once the vets have evaluated the dog sprain, they may pass one of the following grades:

  • Grade I

    The ligament is slightly damaged. However, joint is functional. The dog may have to bear some pain and swelling but can walk eventually.

  • Grade II

    A significant part of the ligament is damaged. Critical swelling, lameness, and pain are evident. And the Joint is partially functional. The canine can walk but with difficulty.

  • Grade III

    It's the most severe grade of a dog's sprain. Grade III indicates that the ligament is either wholly damaged or severely torn. Sadly, the bones and joints may not be fixed. And the pup may find it extremely hard to put any weight on that limb.

Caution: Limping that lasts more than 48 hours should be treated as soon as possible!

While physical examination by a qualified veterinarian is necessary, there are some steps that you can take to comfort your pet, such as placing an ice pack on the sprinted area to reduce swelling and ensuring that your dog isn't irritating the injury anymore.

Grade I sprain can take many weeks to heal, though, they only need minimal care, splint, and anti-inflammatory medicines.

  • Provide optimal joint temperature
  • Increase blood circulation, improve oxygen delivery
  • Protect wounds from licking and irritation
  • Speeds up recovery
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Grade II sprains also require anti-inflammatory medicine accompanied by a splint. Since the trauma is more severe, such pups may need corrective surgeries as well.

Grade III sprains are entitled to some surgical process for the recovery or removal of the torn ligament. These surgeries can be either traditional or laser-based.

While a dog sprained leg is a severe ligament injury, most canines make a full recovery. The biggest challenge in the recovery process is convincing an energetic pup to take it easy for at least 6 weeks so the sprain can heal faster and may never reoccur.

Remember to follow your veterinary doctor's recommendations and do your best to speed up the healing process.

Sheryl is an editor from iPetor, owns extensive pet care experience. As a professional writer, she can provide useful pet care tips for all "parents".
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