hysical injury causing lameness, pain and local swelling to muscles, ligaments and tendons is particularly common in dogs. The degree of damage, to ligaments in particular should not be underestimated. Muscle or tendon tears are uncommon other than in working dogs, racing greyhounds in particular. Torn ligaments are not uncommon, particularly torn knee (cruciate) ligaments in overweight middle aged dogs (see joint disease below).
Diagnosis and treatment
- A physical examination locates the source of lameness. X-rays eliminate fractures, dislocations and most but not all instances of degenerative joint disease confirming that damage is to soft tissue.
- Overwhelmingly, the most important part of treatment is rest. We can't overstate this. We know how easy it is to say and how difficult it is to implement especially when you have a high energy youngster who revels in physical activity. We’re all pushovers for the plaintive look in the eyes of our own pets. Long term it isn't worth it. Physical activity now can turn a minor sprain into a chronic and major injury.
- Immediately after injury, confine your pet. Apply ice packs (A bag of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel is perfect.) for 20 minutes three to four times daily. The wrapped bag sometimes can be taped to a dog’s joint. Cold packs reduce the degree of swelling.
- After the first 24 hours switch to warm (not hot) packs three times a day for another two days. This prevents too much contraction. We will dispense pain killers when pain is moderate to severe. Mild discomfort is useful. It is there to tell your pet to rest the joint. When pain control is necessary we use meloxicam, carprofen or firocoxib.