Dog Leg Injuries

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Dog leg injuries are not uncommon. After all, everyday wear and tear after years of use can often lead to various ailments and injuries. In addition, different breeds have a higher likelihood of suffering from certain leg injuries. Here are some common types of dog leg injuries, ways to identify such ailments, and how to treat and prevent them.

Types

Dog leg injuries cover a wide spectrum, but the most common are cuts, sprains, torn ligaments and broken bones. Dislocations may occur too, especially in older dogs with weaker joints.

Causes

Pretty much anything that can cause a human leg injury can cause a dog leg injury. Objects such as wood or metal can become lodged in the dog's paw or leg leading to scratches and cuts. Bumps or rocks can cause a dog to trip and sprain its leg. Even everyday running and jumping can result in a sprain or a break. Old age and hereditary conditions can also lead to leg injuries, such as hip dysplasia--a common cause of limping.

Diagnosis

Diagnosing a dog's leg injury can be as easy as noticing a cut, scrape or presence of a foreign object. Breaks and sprains can be more difficult to diagnose. Check for swelling and signs of pain by carefully manipulating the dog's toes and foot joint. Swelling is an indication that there may be a break or a sprain. If the dog's leg looks visibly misaligned, it could be a sign of a dislocation. Regardless of the injury, it is important that you get your pet to a veterinarian for professional care. A veterinarian can take X-rays to determine conclusively whether there is a break, a sprain or if a foreign object has become lodged in the animal's leg.

Treatment

There are some first-aid treatments you can perform immediately following the dog's injury. First, if there is nail damage on the paw, carefully trim the nail prior to inspecting the rest of the foot. Be sure to wash and disinfect as well. If there is foreign debris, you will want to carefully use a pair of tweezers, after washing of course, to remove the debris. Then disinfect the wound using Betadine and, once dry, apply antibiotic ointment. Then wrap the wound in a gauze, and repeat this cleaning and gauzing process twice a day until the animal can be seen by a vet or until the injury heals. In the event of a broken bone, create a splint using a coat hanger and gauze. To do this, shape the coat hanger around the leg or paw and apply gauze. Also be sure to ice the wound to reduce swelling. This should be done for 20 minutes several times a day. Once the veterinarian sees the dog, he or she can operate if necessary, apply a cast and administer medication if need be.

Prevention

One way to prevent your dog from suffering a life-altering leg injury is to ensure that it sees the veterinarian as scheduled for regular check ups. This way the vet can determine if certain conditions that come with age, such as hip dysplasia or arthritis, might be setting in, both of which can result in leg injuries. Also, exercise your dog regularly to ensure its muscles and ligaments stay strong and active. Finally, walk your dog in a park, field or grassy area. Hard-top surfaces can do damage over time on a dog's joints.

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