Sprained Muscles in Puppies
Since puppies have bodies that aren’t as strong as adult dogs, they tend to overexert or injure themselves. Muscle sprains are one fairly common injury among young pets. Puppies’ muscles aren’t fully formed yet and can be easily hurt. Take steps to protect your puppy, but also watch for symptoms.
What Causes Muscle Sprains?
Puppies want to play with the big dogs, but their little bodies aren’t quite up to it! Overexertion of a muscle can cause a tear or stretch the muscle too far. Trauma is the main cause of most muscle sprains, and situations that can cause a traumatic injury include:
Muscle Sprain Symptoms
There are three degrees of injury, depending on the severity of the sprain:
- Grade I: The muscle may be slightly torn or simply overstretched, with minor swelling and pain. Some minor sprains may go away on their own with rest and ice, but if symptoms persist, see your vet.
- Grade II: A more serious tear or stretching has occurred, as is evident by your dog’s limping, visible swelling, and pain. Contact your vet if your pet displays these symptoms.
- Grade III: In the third case, the muscle has separated from the bone, causing completely inability to use the limb along with excruciating pain. Seek immediate veterinary attention.
Muscle Sprain Treatment
If your puppy is injured, seek advice from your veterinarian. They will perform a physical examination and may also take radiographs (x-rays) to determine if the pain is caused by a muscle sprain or a bone fracture; the symptoms can look very similar.
Treatment for minor to moderate sprains may include a combination of splinting the joint to inhibit movement and anti-inflammatory medications. Treatment of more serious injuries may require surgery to repair the torn muscle along with splinting and medications to reduce inflammation and pain. In some cases, the joint may not return to its pre-injured state, but will still be relatively movable.
Recovering from a Sprain
While your puppy recovers from any injury, it’s important to reduce activity levels in order to allow the injury to heal as well as prevent it from getting further injured. Your veterinarian will provide advice and aftercare instructions specific to your pet’s injury, which may include:
- Confining your dog. You may use a crate or baby gates to section off a small area of the home to reduce your puppy’s movement. Use a short leash when going outside for potty breaks. This will help to prevent activities that might make the sprain worse or delay healing.
- Reducing activity. Don’t allow vigorous playing, running, or jumping on/off furniture. Instead of physical exercise, you can keep your puppy stimulated with mental games such as puzzle toys with treats stuffed inside, KONG toys, or hiding kibble or treats under cups.
Preventing Muscle Sprains
Though they love to wrestle and play, puppies are more fragile than full-grown dogs and must be handled with care. Keep a close eye on your puppy when around unfamiliar dogs; never allow them to go unleashed outside, unless you are in your fenced backyard. Refrain from running or jogging with your puppy until he’s older than one year old – puppies need different exercise than adult dogs. If playtime with other dogs that are older and bigger starts to get too rough, be sure to make the dogs take a break to prevent an accidental sprain or injury.