How To Prevent And Treat Dog Front Leg Injury [Top Tips]

If you have a dog, you know how much they love to run in the park, how much they love to jump up onto the couch and how much they love to play with their favourite frisbee.

But what happens when they get a dog front leg injury?

No more fun for your pup.

via GIPHY

Because of the critical role your dog’s forelimbs, or front legs, play in their overall mobility, avoiding a dog leg injury is critical to your dog’s mobility (and happiness).

That’s why we’re covering everything from prevention to treatment to recovery from a dog front leg injury in this post.

So leg’s get into it!

Dog Leg Injury Symptoms

dog leg injury symptoms

The first step to healing a dog leg injury is spotting it.

When you’re worried about your dog having a dog leg injury, look for these symptoms:

  • Gait changes
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Sudden aggression
  • Lameness
  • The affected limb is hot to the touch
  • Weakness
  • Joint range of motion is impaired
  • Reluctant to rise from laying

While these are the most commonly spotted signs of a dog leg injury, you know your pup best. Anything out of the ordinary in their behaviour, eating habits, bathroom habits, or physical activity levels are red flags to watch for.

Signs and Symptoms of a Dog Front Leg Injury

Knowing your dog has a leg injury is one thing, but they do have four of them — so how do you know which one is the culprit of their pain?

If you’ve got a dog front leg injury on your hands, you’ll notice two key behaviours:

  1. Your dog raises their head when front legs touch the ground
  2. They lower their head when bearing weight on back legs

It will also be harder for them to run or get up from a resting position. If you spot their limb dangling, that could be a serious break and you should get in touch with the vet immediately.

Dog Hind Leg Injury Symptoms

When looking for dog hind leg injury symptoms, it goes without saying that your focus will be on their hind legs.

Watch for these two telltale signs when you’re observing your pup as they move:

  1. Compensate for pain in back legs by leaning forward and shifting weight frontwards.
  2. Tail or affected rear leg will rise when coming in contact with the ground

Common Causes of a Dog Leg Injury

causes of a dog leg injury

When you have a suspected dog leg injury on your hands, it only makes sense you want to know what caused it.

But before you get the root of the problem with your vet, you should first ask yourself if the pain is acute or chronic.

Why does it matter?

Acute pain is when your pup suddenly begins to show signs of injury. They may have started limping in the last few minutes or days, and it appears to improve within a few days with rest and pain relief. If rest doesn’t help with your pup’s limp or hind leg injury symptoms, you’re going to want to call the vet. Otherwise, they can likely have it checked out at the next appointment.

Conversely, chronic leg injuries have symptoms that last longer than a day or two and have probably been trouble for your pup for much longer than that. This can be age-related diseases like arthritis or genetic conditions like hip dysplasia.

With that in mind, you can consider the causes of your dog leg injury — and there’s plenty of them to consider.

Often, our pups can get into a bit of trouble when they are having too much fun, and that’s when common strain and sprain injuries occur. Other times, you are enjoying a walk and your poor companion gets a cut on their paw and a laceration occurs. Or sometimes, it is a matter of age-related wear and tears, or genetic conditions inherited by your pup.

The table below outlines some of the most common causes of a dog leg injury that pet pawrents should be aware of as well as what to look for in each.

Dog Leg InjuryInjury Information 
Ligament Strain Injury
  • Muscles become pulled too far and the tendon connecting bone with muscle is injured.
  • Commonly associated with active play.
  • Back legs are most commonly affected.
Sprain
  • Ligaments connect muscle to bone and when a sprain occurs, the ligament suffers damage.
  • Commonly associated with jumping and leaping.
  • Front legs and wrists are most likely to be affected.
Fracture or Break
  • When any part of any bone becomes cracked, broken, or otherwise unconnected.
  • Can be as moderate as a hairline fracture or as severe as a fully broken limb.
Tear
  • Tears occur to ligaments when connecting structures either partially or completely rupture.
  • A sudden, severe onset of symptoms.
  • CCL (cranial cruciate ligament, similar to ACL in humans) is most commonly torn.
Luxating Patella
  • Happens when the patella slides out of place in the joint or dislocates.
  • Watch for a skipping limp in smaller breeds, especially females.
Elbow Dysplasia
  • Umbrella term for abnormal elbow joints, caused by trauma or due to improper development of the joints.
  • Can be genetic or breed-related.
  • Causes mobility impairments and can worsen with age.
Arthritis
  • Multifactorial disease related to age and wear and tear on joints.
  • Stiffness, reduced activity, and mobility challenges are common signs.
Hip Dysplasia
  • Hip joints are incongruous and do not fit together as they should, causing pain and mobility issues for your dog.
  • Occurs due to environmental and genetic factors.
Cruciate Ligament Rupture
  • A key ligament in your dog’s knee connecting the femur and tibia can break and cause instability in the knee.
  • Will notice a limp in your dog’s back leg and they will be unable to put weight on it.
Dislocation
  • Occurs when various parts of a joint become separated.
  • Can be any joint, but commonly affects the shoulders and elbow.
Laceration
  • Any cut or scrape affecting your dog.
  • Debris or obstacles on the ground can cut paw pads, legs or ankles and cause bleeding, bruising, and swelling.
  • Check for lacerations after time outside, or if you notice blood.
Nail Problems
  • Infections, broken or loose nails, or ingrown nails can cause leg injury and lameness.
  • Always maintain a regular trimming schedule to avoid in-grown or over-long nail catching.

Source

Additional Types of Dog Injuries

types of dog injuries

You want to make sure you know the signs of your dog’s distress from any injury.

And the thing is, your pup may show signs of a dog leg injury, but it is actually another part of their lower limb or body that is hurt, like their wrist or shoulder. 

That’s why it’s important to understand your dog’s anatomy enough to see what could be the real problem. Check out the diagram below for an idea as to where key joints in their lower limbs are located.

dog anatomy

Source

Now that we’ve got our quick anatomy lesson out of the way, let’s get into what kinds of other dog injuries to watch for.

Dog Knee Injury

Dog knees, also known as the stifle joint, are critical to your dog’s movement.

Like our own knees, they also bear the brunt of your dog’s weight when in motion. That’s why it’s common to have a dog knee injury, especially for very active dogs.

The two most common dog knee injury types are a torn CCL or luxating patella. Other common dog knee injury problems are related to the ligaments that support their knee.

A dog knee injury should be taken seriously, and if you are in doubt as to what’s bugging your dog, call the vet.

Dog Shoulder Injury

Dog shoulders are less mobile than our own and allow for their legs to power forward while in motion, with limited side to side motion.

Though they may be less mobile joints than our shoulders, a dog shoulder injury can be detrimental to your dog’s mobility.

Common kinds of dog shoulder injuries include:

  • Supraspinatus tendonitis: tears or tendonitis associated with the supraspinatus tendon
  • Bicipital tenosynovitis: a slow tear in shoulder tendon over time
  • Medial shoulder instability: a type of repetitive strain injury common in agility dogs

Dog Nail Bed Injury

dog nail

Our dog’s nails see way more action than our own, so it’s only natural they can commonly be hurt or injured.

Three parts make up their nail bed — the bone, quick and nail itself. The nail is made up of keratin that forms a protective, hard layer around the quick.

When the quick is exposed, your pup will likely bleed and be in discomfort. Sometimes an entire nail is torn out, other times it just breaks. Both are unpleasant and painful to deal with.

Avoid a dog nail bed injury by ensuring your dog’s nails are kept trimmed, but not too closely. You should only be cutting the hard, dry keratin nail. If you’re in doubt, leave the trims to a professional to escape a further dog nail bed injury.

Dog Wrist Injury

Wrists do a lot for humans, and the same goes for our doggy companions.

They are also prone to injuries like us too, particularly strains (affecting tendons) and sprains (affecting ligaments). This can happen when your pup jumps down from a height like a car or bed and lands hard.

Your dog can often recover from a mild strain or sprain with rest and the help of a brace to support the joint while the tendons or ligaments recover.

Dog Spinal Injury

The spinal cord and associated structures are kind of a big deal for any creature, but you already knew that.

So it’s no surprise that you need to be very careful when it comes to a dog spinal injury.

There are a few conditions that relate to a dog spinal injury:

  • Intervertebral disc disease (IVDD)
  • Fibrocartilaginous embolism
  • Discospondylitis
  • Wobbler’s Syndrome
  • Lumbosacral degeneration

Watch for sudden pain when your dog moves their neck, as well as acute lack of coordination and spasms as those, are symptoms of a dog spinal injury.

Many of these conditions, while serious, can be helped with a combination of surgery and physical therapy. That isn’t to say you should hesitate to call the vet in a timely fashion, however. Give them a call if you suspect a dog spinal injury.

Dog Hip Injury

You’re probably already hip to the fact that your dog’s rear limbs rely on the hips to move, and that makes them pretty important.

You may not know, however, what kinds of problems can befall this key pair of joints. Hip dysplasia is probably the most common dog hip injury overall but is even more common in large or giant breed dogs.

Other types of dog hip injuries include:

  • Strains
  • Sprains
  • Arthritis
  • Dislocation

Dog Elbow Injury

A dog elbow injury is no fun.

Your dog needs their elbow to be able to run, jump, and play and a dog elbow injury can slow them down. The good news is there are plenty of options that we can utilize to help our pups feel their best in conditions like elbow dysplasia or a torn ligament.

Depending on the severity of your case, and what’s at the root of the issue, your vet may recommend treatment as mild as some rest and as serious as surgery.

Either way, your vet knows best and will be able to tell you what the best move is for your pup. They may suggest braces or supports while your dog heals, and other ways to help them recover more quickly, like adding in an extra-strength joint supplement like TRI-ACTA H.A. can help them get greater mobility back to their elbows in no time.

Dog Front Leg Injury Prevention Tips

Prevention is always the best medicine in our books. That’s why we’re going to share 5 tips for avoiding dog leg injury to help keep your dog happy and healthy next. 

Balanced Nutrition for Your Dog

balanced nutrition

A balanced diet is very important when it comes to preventing a dog front leg injury, as well as other injuries.

By having proper nutrition, your dog is less likely to become obese. Obesity is a challenge for many dogs (who isn’t guilty of giving them an extra treat or two) and it can create many health problems for your pup simply because of the greater stress it puts on their bodies.

Your dog’s diet must consist of the following components:

  1. Fats
  2. Proteins
  3. Carbohydrates
  4. Water
  5. Minerals
  6. Vitamins

The good news is that commercial dog food and special diets like the raw food diet allow you to easily balance nutrition for your pup. You just have to make sure that you skip giving those extra treats out!

Incorporate Dog Joint Supplements

dog leg injury prevention

You shouldn’t be surprised that dog supplements are the best prevention in our eyes. After all, it’s all about helping protect your dog from inside.

Dog joint supplements can help your dog build strong joints so that next time they have a dog back leg injury, they are able to recover from it quickly or avoid it in the first place.

But what makes a supplement such a superhero to your dog’s joints?

That would be thanks to the following powerful ingredients:

  1. Glucosamine
  2. Chondroitin
  3. MSM

When you have a joint supplement that includes all three of these ingredients, you’re setting your pup up for success. But don’t just choose any old supplement.

You need to choose a joint supplement that is easy to administer, has therapeutic benefits, and has high-quality ingredients you can trust.

TRI-ACTA for pets checks off all of those boxes, and more. We even have a maximum strength formula, TRI-ACTA H.A. for pets, that offers your pup the added bonus of hyaluronic acid to improve joint fluid viscosity. Both are great options for protecting your pup from a dog front leg injury.

Get Regular Exercise

We know how much better we feel as humans when we hit the gym more regularly, and the same applies to our dogs.

via GIPHY

While you don’t need to get your dog to start hitting the leg press every morning, you can choose conditioning exercises that will help your dog fortify their joints by having strong muscles.

Some easy exercises to work into your daily routine include:

  • Swimming
  • Fetch
  • Hikes
  • Agility work
  • Obedience training (sit and stay, retrieval exercises)
  • Walks or runs

Always work your dog up gradually to any kind of exercise. You wouldn’t run a marathon untrained, so don’t do the same to your pup. Similarly, consistency is key to success! Having a 30-minute walk every day would be better than one very long hike once per week. Finally, don’t forget to warm up and cool down to avoid your pup hurting their leg muscles.

Check for Hazards

When you’re out and about with your pup, you should always examine the environment where they are playing and walking.

Check for hazards like:

  • Ice, snow and extreme cold
  • Hot pavement or surfaces
  • Debris or garbage
  • Uneven ground
  • Areas with little traction
  • Sharp objects (broken glass, wires, or metal fence)
  • Terrain where the ground is not immediately visible (heavy brush, snow, foliage)
  • Water

If you spot anything that you feel could be dangerous to your pup, trust your gut and check it out before allowing them to play or walk in the area.

Additional Safety Considerations

dog safety

Last but not least, this tip is all about the general safety of your pup.

Like we mentioned above, trusting your gut is key to good pet parenting. You need to use your common sense, as well as always act with an abundance of caution. This is your fur child we’re talking about!

Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to dog safety:

  • Paw and leg protection (waxes, boots and braces) can be helpful for active pups and ageing seniors alike.
  • Use appropriate toys designed for dogs only. Don’t use children’s toys or household items to play with your dog.
  • Avoid playing when your dog is leashed.
  • Wear a doggy life jacket to avoid overexertion and slips and falls around the dock and water.
  • Ensure area rugs are used on smooth flooring where they may be allowed to jump up onto furniture like couches.

4 Dog Front Leg Injury Treatment Options

As much as we can try to prevent our pups from getting injured, you may find yourself with a dog front leg injury anyhow. That’s why it’s equally as important to understand treatment options for your dog and help get them feeling better as soon as you can.

Dog Leg Brace for ACL Injury

A little support goes a long way, so they say.

That is true of dog leg injury. Adding a brace to support your dog’s ACL (also called the CCL) during recovery from injury is a great way to help keep them mobile, but also safe from further injury.

Benefits of using a dog leg brace for ACL injury include:

  • Helps hold limbs in a normal walking position
  • Provides support to torn, stressed or strained muscles
  • Stabilizes the limb while in recovery
  • Less immobile than a cast
  • Easy to use and implement at home
  • Customizable to the needs of your dog

Always speak with your vet before trying any supports like dog leg brace for ACL injury in case your dog needs medical intervention

Surgery

dog surgery

There are numerous surgical procedures that vets can use to correct a dog leg injury.

Depending on the part of your dog’s front leg or other legs that are injured, your vet will choose a surgery that suits the severity and location, if surgery is the best option for your dog’s particular needs.

In general, the types of surgery for a dog front leg injury include:

  1. Cruciate ligament repair: surgery to repair torn or damaged CCL ligaments in the knee.
  2. Patella surgery: surgery to repair patellar luxation or patellar deformities in the knee.
  3. Wound repair: surgery or stitches to repair broken skin.
  4. Broken bone repair: surgery to repair a broken or fractured bone.
  5. Hip surgery: surgery to repair hip dysplasia.
  6. Bone deformity condition correction: any other surgery to repair a bone or joint that has not formed appropriately like elbow incongruency.

Your vet will work with you to create a treatment plan that is right for your pup and provide you with the best option for helping your dog feel their best.

Physical Therapy

dog physical therapy

After surgery, or for more moderate cases of a dog front leg injury, your vet may recommend various kinds of physical therapy.

These are performed by professionals most of the time in a dedicated facility or clinic.

Some professional rehab therapies your dog may benefit from include:

  1. Cryotherapy: Use of cold to target a sore area and reduce inflammation
  2. Hydrotherapy: Water is used to achieve weightlessness on joints
  3. Massage therapy: A professional canine massage therapist can manipulate the sore and relieve pain
  4. Physiotherapy: Exercises are performed to strengthen muscles and joints

You can translate some of that professional rehabilitation to home care in addition. Adding ice or hot packs to your dog’s daily routine can help ease inflammation and pain, and trying alternative exercises like swimming instead of walking can also help ease the pain.

Supplements for Dogs

When your pup is down for the count with a dog front leg injury, you want to see them feeling their best as soon as possible.

And adding a maximum strength pet supplement to your recovery plan is a great way to accomplish just that.

Joint supplements are not only great at helping prevent a dog injury, but also when recovering from it. They can help the most crucial part of your pup’s joints, the cartilage, heal faster and ensure greater joint mobility in the joint itself.

Just how do they do that, exactly?

The key ingredients found in high-quality, maximum-strength dog joint supplements like TRI-ACTA H.A. make the healing happen, as outlined in the table below.

Ingredient in TRI-ACTA H.A. for petsBenefit
GlucosamineRepairs joint cartilage
Hyaluronic AcidImproves the viscosity of a synovial (joint) fluid
MSMReduces pain and inflammation within the joint
ChondroitinPrevents the cartilage from further breakdown

Not to toot our own horns too hard, but we also offer a small yet therapeutic dose that’s easy to sprinkle into your pup’s meals, and we have the backing of third-party lab testing to make sure your pup gets the quality they deserve. You can even serve TRI-ACTA H.A. for Pets to your ageing or injured kitties, too (in the appropriate smaller dose, of course).

TRI-ACTA H.A. for Pets

Our maximum strength formula is optimally designed to accelerate the formation of cartilage, minimize inflammation, expedite the healing process, and improve joint conditions.

Considerations During Recovery

No matter what treatment option you seek, or how long the road to recovery may be for your dog, there are some key things to keep in mind.

Here are some of our most important considerations during recovery for a dog front leg injury:

  • Limit exercise but remain mobile (as directed by your vet).
  • Use a supplement like TRI-ACTA H.A. for maximum joint health protection and speedier recovery.
  • Make sure your home is mobility friendly (use gates to close off stairs, add a rug on slippery floors, and get a ramp to avoid them jumping up).
  • Apply cold compresses for swelling.
  • Create a soft space for your pet to rest in with extra padding to support their limbs.
  • When in doubt, ask your vet what to do! They know your pet and their health best and can offer professional advice.

Start Preventing Dog Front Leg Injury

That’s it! Everything you need to know about a dog front leg injury.

We hope to have given you a leg up in protecting your precious pup from a dog front leg injury!

And don’t forget the one thing that will help your dog through the stages of prevention, treatment and recovery — TRI-ACTA for pets, and our maximum strength formula, TRI-ACTA H.A. for pets. Both of our formulas contain glucosamine for dogs as well as a host of other helpful joint-supporting ingredients and the quality assurances you want to see for your furry family member. 

You can find out where to buy TRI-ACTA, and check out our blog for more helpful pet health information.

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