The Five Most Common Injuries in Dogs

September 11, 2014

dog_injuries_siniBy Linda Cole

Dogs love chasing each other, playing fetch or racing around at full speed, twisting and turning as they run. Play is a good way for dogs to get rid of excess energy, but it’s also how they can pick up an injury. Some of the most common injuries can sideline your pet, or at least slow him down a bit.

Soft Tissue Injuries

Soft tissues are the tendons, muscles and ligaments. Common soft tissue injuries are sprains and strains. Dogs can slip on snow or ice or step in a hole while running. Quick turns or stops, leaping or jumping off or over something can pull a muscle, stretch a tendon or tear a ligament. Just jumping off the couch or bed can cause an injury. We may think of dogs as being athletic and surefooted, but accidents happen in the blink of an eye. Whenever your dog is racing around the yard chasing a ball or another dog, or training for a dog sport, there’s always the potential for a soft tissue injury.

If you notice your pet limping, that’s a sure sign something is wrong. It could be nothing more than a rock caught between his toes or paw pads, but it could also be a soft tissue injury. If you’ve checked his feet and don’t find any cuts or anything else that could be causing him to limp, it’s best to have your vet check him out. Many strains and sprains are minor and can be cared for by limiting his activity, but some can be serious and require medical attention.

Lacerations, Abrasions and Bite Woundsdog_injuries_christopher

A cut is called a laceration, and scrapes are abrasions. Lacerations are caused by sharp objects like broken glass, jagged metal edges, a dog’s toenails, or anything that can cut through the skin or flesh. Lacerations can have a clean and neat edge or be jagged and dirty, depending on what caused the injury. Abrasions are caused by sliding on or being pulled on a rough surface like cement, rocks or even sand. Bite wounds are obviously caused by other dogs, cats or wild animals.

Cruciate Ligament Tear

The exact term is cranial cruciate ligament (CCL). This is an important stabilizer inside the knee. It’s the same as a human tearing their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). The cranial cruciate ligament connects the back of the femur to the front of the tibia. The femur is the bone above the knee and the tibia is the one below the knee; the ligament stabilizes the knee joint and keeps the tibia in place. If your dog becomes lame in his hind leg, it’s possible he’s torn or ruptured this vital ligament. Some dog breeds are more at risk than others to this type of injury, including the Labrador Retriever, Newfoundland, Mastiff, Akita, Staffordshire Terrier, Saint Bernard, Poodle, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Rottweiler and Bichon Frise.

A dog’s breed, age, activity level and obesity are factors in a torn CCL. Two of these factors can be controlled by feeding a premium quality pet food like the CANIDAE grain free PURE formulas, and providing adequate exercise. An obese dog that only gets some strenuous exercise now and then is more at risk, and symptoms may not show up for a long time. You may not notice any symptoms until after the ligament tears. Treatment can be surgical or nonsurgical, depending on the severity of the tear.

Eye Injuries

Dogs can’t put up their paws to protect the eyes like we can, and it’s not uncommon for them to get sand or dirt in their eye. Canines that ride in the bed of a truck or stick their head out the car window risk getting bugs or small rocks blown into their eyes. Dogs can get a scratch on the cornea from fighting or playing with another dog or cat, or accidentally scratch their eye pawing at it, or running through high grass, weeds or brush. dog_injuries_tom_bullockIf you notice a change in your dog’s eyes such as redness, one pupil larger than the other one, excessive tearing, squinting, rapid blinking, inflammation or swelling, call your vet.

Mouth Injuries

Dog owners unknowingly contribute to mouth injuries by encouraging a dog to play with or chew on sticks. Sticks can splinter and be swallowed, become embedded in the mouth, or the stick can be rammed into the back of the mouth when the dog is running. Uncooked bones can get lodged in the throat, caught on a tooth, or splinter. Most injuries happen during fights or when licking sharp objects like can lids which cut their tongue. Dogs that chase bees or other stinging insects are at risk of being stung, and snake bites can occur on the mouth or other areas of the body.

Top photo by Sini Merikallio/Flickr  
Middle photo by Christopher Woo/Flickr  
Bottom photo by tom_bullock/Flickr 

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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  1. Samantha K. says:

    My Dog limps In the Winter, Is it the snow or the temperature?

  2. Karen Scott says:

    My dog hurt her mouth. She is now chattering. What has happened?

  3. Vasu says:

    Plz can u tell me common injuries in working dogs

  4. Al says:

    I have a mix retriever about 5 years old currently has a growth on her leg near her ankle the growth is about the size of a lemon small lemon doesn’t show any pain or any limping the soft tissue as far as the growth seems like it’s filled with pus is anything that I can give her too get the swelling down as far as the growth