Dog's can't talk, but they can feel pain. We often assume they must have a high tolerance for pain since they have to show drastic changes in movement or behavior before we notice that something is wrong.
Robin Carter (a fan of Spectra Therapy and Holistic Dog Health and remedies) shares her story about her dog Lizzy and how a simple activity can lead to injury.
“Lizzy and I were just walking along, like we do every morning, when she suddenly let out a shrill little “yip,” and started limping. I stopped, of course, to investigate why she was limping. I thought she might have stepped on a sharp goat head that could still be stuck in her paw. But no, nothing, nada. So, I set her back down to continue on our path headed home. She tried to walk but not without a limp and not without favoring her offending paw. I’m thankful she weighs only six pounds soaking wet because I carried her home. And I wondered about my little dog’s injury all the way back to the house.
To Call, or Not to Call
“Once we were back at the house, I set Lizzy down and observed her. She limped over to her blanket on the couch, but she wouldn’t jump up onto it. So I grabbed the cats’ bed for her. She rested for a long while until she needed to go outside for a potty break, still limping although not as badly. I called the vet to tell them about my dog’s injury and to find out what I should do?
They said, ‘If Lizzy cannot put weight on her leg and the symptoms do not improve within the next 24 hours, she needs to be seen.'”
Why is My Dog Limping?
Dogs are active and athletic. And damage to their muscles, tendons, and ligaments is common. Injuries to muscle, tendons, and ligaments are referred to as soft trauma injuries. Most soft trauma injuries resolve completely on their own with a lot of time and care.
But if your dog’s injury doesn’t improve in the next 24 hours, something more severe than a strain or sprain could be happening.
Make Note of Symptoms in Your Dog
Soft tissue trauma, such as strains, sprains, and muscle damage, have many of the same symptoms as minor fractures, bone degeneration, and even cancer do. So self-diagnosing is a waste of time for your dog’s well-being.
Your vet can determine the type or your dog’s injury and the extent of the injury. They will want to know when you first noticed a change. Be prepared to answer and explain the following:
- Does your dog seem depressed?
- Is your dog showing a lack of energy?
- How’s your dog’s appetite?
- Is your dog limping?
- Does your dog lick her joints or legs excessively?
- How long has her tail been limp?
- Does she act like she is in pain?
- Are her joints red and/or swollen?
- Is she reluctant to exercise or play?
- Are her paws swollen?
- Does she cry out suddenly?
- Is she yelping when you touch her?
Soft Tissue Trauma Defined
Soft tissue trauma means any damage that causes pain to any tissue that is not bone or skin. This includes oral tissues (lips, tongue, tonsils).
Is My Dog’s Injury a Strain, a Sprain, or Something More?
Both strains and sprains can be chronic or acute. They can range from mild to severe.
If your dog’s injury is a strain, either the muscle or tendons has torn or stretched. Strains injure tendons that link muscles and bones. They are common in hips and thighs.
A sprain is a tear or stretching of the ligament that connects bones, and sprains cause joint damage. Wrists and knees are common joints for dogs to sprain. One of the most serious injuries is A cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) connects the bones of the knee and is one of the most serious of injuries when torn.
Causes of Soft Tissue Trauma in Dogs
Soft tissue trauma can happen if your dog stretches too far, too much, or too often. Your dog could slip on ice or jump ambitiously. If your dog is a fast-growing breed and/or overweight, they are more prone to sprains. Dogs with long backs, Dachshunds, and German Shepherds, can develop strains and sprains in their backs and necks.
Diagnosis of Your Dog’s Injury
Again, make note of your dog’s symptoms. And if you don’t see improvement in your dog’s injury within 24 hours, your dog needs to be seen. Even mild limping should be seen and treated if it lasts more than 48 hours.
So after a thorough physical examination, the pain of your dog's injury will be pinpointed and its severity assessed. An X-ray, MRI or ultrasound of your dog’s injury may be required in order to differentiate between a muscular strain or muscle damage, minor fracture, bone degeneration, and even cancer. It’s possible the X-ray, MRI or ultrasound will reveal your dog’s injury or pain is caused by osteoarthritis.
Injury to your dog’s ligaments and tendons is sometimes examined using a surgical procedure called arthroscopy. It is performed by inserting an endoscope into the injured joint through a small incision. The procedure allows a clear visual image of the ligaments and tendons.
Treating Your Dog’s Injury
While you are waiting to be seen, do the following for your dog:
- Place an ice pak on the injury to reduce pain and swelling
- Prevent your dog from aggravating the injury further
If the soft tissue damage is minor and surgery isn’t required:
- Keep your dog as inactive as possible to prevent your dog’s injury from reoccurring
- Continue giving your dog any medicine prescribed
- Exercise your dog as recommended
- Keep the site clean and free from dirt and debris
- Don’t let your dog lick or chew on the injury. Use the “cone of shame” if necessary.
- Examine your dog’s injury often for two or three weeks following surgery. Check for swelling, bleeding or pus.
- Keep your dog in a calm, quiet environment during recovery. This encourages healing.
- Put appropriate food and water within your dog’s reach while recovering
Obesity and inactivity may be to blame for your dog’s injury. To avoid future soft trauma injuries, make sure your dog maintains a healthy weight and gets regular exercise.
And the rest of Lizzy's story? All is back to normal. Robin kept an eye on Lizzy's limping and paid attention to her behavior and possible symptoms. Turns out her little dog’s injury was acutely insignificant, thankfully.
Be sure to ask about the benefits of laser therapy to speed recovery of your dog’s injury. The Spectra Therapy CANINE Wearable LASERwrap® allows you to treat your dog’s injury safely and effectively in the convenience of your home.
Please share your thoughts and comments below. If you have any immediate needs or questions, call us at (248) 524-6300 today.
NOTE: Robin Carter is a dog & cat lover, and a Spectra Therapy fan from Torrington WY.