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How do I know if my dog has a sprain?

Seeing your dog come back from an outing with a limp is cause for concern. The dog seems to be in pain and the leg is swollen at a joint. This could be a sprain. It is important to know how to identify the main symptoms in order to give first aid to your little companion to relieve him while waiting to consult the veterinarian. It is better not to wait because an X-ray may be necessary.

Sprains in dogs: symptoms


When a dog suffers from a sprain, he tends to :
  • Whimper while trying to lean on the affected leg,
  • Avoid putting his injured paw down, so he keeps it raised by bringing it under his body,
  • Lick where it hurts.
Careful observation of the painful paw usually reveals:
  • A swelling at a joint,
  • This is why you should not touch a paw if you suspect a sprain, because the gentlest of dogs can bite severely.

Sprain in dogs: first aid before consulting a veterinarian


While waiting for the veterinarian to examine the dog suffering from a sprain, it is essential to :
  • Absolutely put the dog to rest, in a quiet place, a little away from the comings and goings to avoid unnecessary stress,
  • Relieve the pain by placing an ice pack on the affected area,
  • Deflate the swelling:
    • Either with an ice pack,
    • Or with homeopathic granules (in this case 3 granules of Arnica montana 9 CH every 60 minutes).
If you do not have an ice pack, you can put ice cubes in a plastic bag and cover it with a towel. Ice cubes should never be placed directly on the dog's leg.

If the sprain is mild, the symptoms should subside fairly quickly. This does not exempt you from consulting the veterinarian during the day. It is very important to make sure that the damage is not more serious than it appears. The owner may fear a more serious sprain if the swelling gets worse and the dog is in a lot of pain.

What can cause a sprain in a dog?


A sprain can affect a dog's hind or front leg, regardless of age, weight or health status. It can be caused by:
  • Trauma, i.e. a direct shock,
  • A muscular stretch,
  • Ligament stretching,
  • Stretching of a tendon.
The dog may have bumped or landed badly after jumping a fence. Just as the owner may twist an ankle, the dog may twist a leg while frolicking in the yard.

Sprains in dogs: treatment


It is necessary to consult the veterinarian so that the dog can be treated properly and quickly. To reach the clinic or the office, it is necessary to avoid walking the animal at all costs in order not to aggravate the injury or the pain. If it is a small dog, it is easy to transport it by taking it in your arms or by carrying it in a basket or crate. For a dog weighing more than 50 kg, it is better to get help. The animal can be placed on a blanket or stretcher to make it easier to move.

The veterinarian may want to take an x-ray to make sure the sprain is mild or to make sure there is no bone breakage. Depending on the diagnosis, it may be decided to operate on the animal.

It is possible that osteoarthritis may cause symptoms similar to those of a sprain. This condition is common, affecting nearly 7 out of 10 dogs over the age of 7. It also requires treatment. Therefore, one should not play the sorcerer's apprentice when his dog starts to limp. It is necessary to consult so that the problem can be identified as soon as possible.