Your Dog's Sprained Leg: What To Do

Your four legged friend stands on their toes with their knees forward and ankles in the air. If you can imagine doing that all day long you may have an idea of the kind of stress and weight your dog puts on their joints and muscles. If your dog appears to have injured themselves, you need to be aware that he may has sprained his leg, know what a sprain and how to help your pet recover.

What is a Sprain?

While sometimes confused with sprains, strains are injuries to tendons or muscles. A sprain, however, occurs when there is ligament damage to your pet's cartilage or joints. Ligaments stretch across the space of a joint in order to hold two different bones together. When one of your dog's ligaments over-extended, the damage caused by that injury is known as a sprain. Torn ligaments are much more serious than sprains and should be handled differently.

Veterinarians classify sprains by a grade, from 1 to 3. The most serious sprain, A grade III sprain, consists partially of torn ligaments-- a complete tear of the tissue connecting your dog's bones. If the ligament is swollen and painful but can still support the weight of a joint it is classified as grade I, while a grade II sprain specifies that there is more serious damage to the ligament and it is too weak to fully support the joint.

Signs Your Dog Has A Sprain

Usually the first warning signs of a sprain is a limp or if your dog is suddenly unable to use one of their legs. Try to understand how your dog is acting differently after the injury occurred, such as what they are or aren't now doing that is unusual. Common signs are limping, sleeping more often, stiff or unexcited about the prospect of a walk, loss of appetite, or sitting with their leg extended.

Ways To Treat Your Dog At Home

There are several things you can do to effectively treat your dog in your own home. Make sure your dog gets proper rest, as their body needs time to heal. Watch your dog's diet and ensure they are getting a healthful intake of quality nutrients. Be mindful of the state of injury to your dog's affected area and apply a heating pad or ice pack as needed, as well as provide an occasional massage. As your dog gets better, take it slow when going on a walk and be sure to use a leash to prevent any further injury. You may also try various physical therapy methods such as the use of treadmills.

When You Should See a Vet

If you suspect that your dog has a sprain that is Grade II or III, you should see a veterinarian. Many pet owners will agree that any injury that is causing significantly unusual behavior is best treated under the guidance of a veterinarian. Also if your dog is undergoing chronic sprains, even minor injuries, you need to click here for more info about professional medical assistance.

Some nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can ease the inflammation your dog is experiencing and help the healing process take hold. Veterinarians may prescribe NSAIDs to your dog, while considering the effects on their heart, liver, and kidneys by doing the appropriate blood and urine tests. When your dog is experiencing pain in their joint, their body produces prostaglandin which causes inflammation. NSAIDs block the formation of this chemical in order to reduce swelling, redness, heat and pain.

All of that playful jumping, scratching and chasing takes lots of flexibility, strength, and energy. Dogs can easily overdo themselves and find themselves with a common sprain injury. That yelp may signal to you that your dog needs your help!