Strains and Sprains Spell Pain for Dogs
The Road to Recovery
It takes the same kinds of things to get your dog back on four feet as it would take to get you back on two.
Your vet will decide how to treat your dog based on whether he has a strain or a sprain, and just how bad it is. She’ll likely try to avoid surgery as a first line of treatment unless a tendon or ligament is torn.
In a typical plan to treat strains and sprains, your vet may tell you to:
- Give your dog nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to ease inflammation.
- Apply an ice pack or heating pad.
- Make sure your dog rests.
- Walk your dog on a leash, taking it slowly at first.
- Use a brace or support to hold your dog’s muscle or joint in place.
- Try physical therapy, such as walk on an underwater or land treadmill, balancing on a ball or board.
- Massage the area.
- Put your dog on a diet.
Surgery is in order for otherwise-healthy dogs that don’t get better, keep injuring themselves, or have a torn tendon or ligament. If your vet didn’t do an MRI or ultrasound the first time around, she may want to see these images before doing surgery.
Depending on the type of surgery, you’ll need to keep your dog quiet and limit his activity for a week or longer. The vet may use a bandage or brace to support the joint. If your dog moves too much or too soon after surgery, he could re-injure himself. Physical therapy can help him get back to being active at the right pace.
Whether your dog has injured himself before or you just want to keep him from getting a strain or sprain, make sure he stays at a healthy weight and gets regular exercise. Obesity and inactivity make these injuries more likely.