Canine Tendonitis

Agility dogs have increased risk of tendonitis.
Apple Tree House/Lifesize/Getty Images

A tendon is a band of tissue that connects muscle to bone. "Tendonitis" occurs when a tendon is inflamed, irritated, stretched, torn or ruptured. In dogs, the most common tendon injuries occur in the forepaws and shoulders, but tendonitis can occur in any tendon. Treatment of canine tendonitis varies based on the severity of the injury.

Causes and Predispositions

Tendonitis can occur as the result of traumatic injury, overexertion or repetitive strains. Sedentary dogs who are overweight or in poor physical condition can injure a tendon when participating in a new physical activity. Sudden flexion of the hock in the rear leg can lead to a rupture of the Achilles tendon. While tendonitis can occur in any dog breed, sporting breeds and agility dogs are in a higher risk category due to their increased physical activities. Injuries to the Achilles tendon are often seen in greyhounds. Agility dogs frequently see injuries to the tendons in the shoulders due to repetitive strains. Extreme obesity increases the risk of strain on the tendons.


The severity of symptoms will depend on the location and the extent of the injury to the tendon. You may notice your dog limping or adjusting his natural gait. He may show pain when you touch or move the area. Other symptoms include lack of energy or desire to participate in favorite activities, as well as limb trembling.

Diagnosing Tendonitis

If you suspect tendonitis or your dog is showing possible signs of it, visit your veterinarian as soon as possible. The veterinarian will rule out possible broken bones or other injuries in the event of a traumatic event. The veterinarian will perform X-rays, ultrasounds or medical resonance imaging to help make a tendonitis diagnosis.


In cases of minor tendonitis, pain medications will help ease pain, while cryotherapy or icing helps reduce inflammation. A veterinarian may recommend physical therapy, laser therapy or acupuncture to aid in healing. In some cases, the veterinarian administers injections of hyaluronic acid or cortisone directly into the tendon. In cases of chronic tendonitis or ruptured tendons, surgical intervention may be necessary, followed by rest and rehabilitation.