Bulldog lifting paw

Banjo hurt his paw


Detecting Muscle Sprain

or Strain in your Dog


Author, Professional Pet Sitting Etc.

Generally, dogs are very active creatures.  This means that their muscles are put through a lot of stress and that often times results in muscle strains or sprains.  After all, they are on all fours all day, every day so, no surprise there. We want our dogs to be active but, we also want to be educated enough to know the signs of muscle afflictions in our dogs.

Strain or sprain? What’s the difference?

Strain occurs by stretching (too far) the tendons that adhere muscles to bones. You will often see this occur in dogs that run or are generally very active.

Sprains are the result of injury to ligaments.  Ligaments connect bones to joins.  Jumping or landing after jumping are often culprits to strains in our dog’s knees and wrist joints.



Dogs experience pain due to muscle sprains, strains, and a whole lot of other injuries. Therefore, knowing how to tell when your dog is in pain is very important as a dog owner. Usually the tell-tale signs include:

  1. Just like humans, dogs will often express signs of pain through vocalization, especially when an injury first occurs. Even thereafter, a dog may express his discomfort through abnormal levels of vocalization.  Of course, this is not always the case but be aware for any growling, howling, yelping or whimpering as that may be a sure sign that your dog is experiencing pain or some level of discomfort.
  2. Limping or any other change in your dog’s gait should be immediately investigated. This is the most easily detectable sign of pain relative to muscle strains or sprains.  If your dog is not using one of his limbs, or showing favor to it, you can be assured that something is amiss.
  3. Excessive panting that does not go hand in hand with exercise may indicate that your dog is in pain due to muscle pains or strains or some other health issue. Often times, we associate panting with a possible overheated dog but, that’s not always the case.  In addition to being a sign of pain, excessive panting could mean that your dog is dealing with a life threatening illness.
  4. While dogs regularly grooming themselves is completely normal, grooming habits can also be a sign of injury. Dogs will self soothe by licking the area, or surrounding area that is injured.  Whether or not there is an open wound or any sign of trauma, you must get your dog checked out.  Also, a dog may be excessively licking one area of his body but the injury could very well be on or inside another place on his body.
  5. Any other changes in your dog’s habits or routines should be duly noted. Sleeping and eating patterns, becoming less or more needy and sudden signs of aggression can signal that your dog is not feeling well for one reason or another.

Don’t delay in seeking the advice of your veterinary doctor should your dog exhibit any one , or all, of these signs as delaying could only result in a less favorable prognosis for your dog.  Remember, dogs really are creatures of habit and any change in behavior or habits usually means something is wrong.




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Dorinne Whynott, is a long time animal professional.  She is a successful business owner establishing one of the largest pet sitting companies in New Hampshire since 1990. Click to Read her complete History. 

Professional Pet Sitting Etc. is a leading business in the pet care field and continues to grow since 1990. It is an AWARD WINNING business, having been awarded the 2015 Best Pet Sitting , 2015 Best Dog Walker, Business of the Year Awards in 1996, 1997, 2006 and 2010.  It boasts 30+ amazing pet sitters on staff, over 3000 clients in 38 cities from Nashua to Concord, NH.  Hundreds of satisfied client testimonials can be found on their website and more 5 star reviews on their Facebook pageGoogle+ page and more.  They have sustained an A+ rating with the BBB, A rating with Angie’s List and are unmatched in the Pet Sitting Industry in New Hampshire.

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