Dog Leg Injuries Caused by Playing

Check the yard for small holes and other terrain hazards before playing with your puppy.
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Limping, yelping and awkward movement are all signs that your pup is having leg problems. Not all leg injuries produce obvious symptoms, but ligament tears and other serious issues can cripple your pet for weeks. Take your dog to the veterinarian for a professional diagnosis, even if the injury doesn't seem serious.

Sprains and Strains

Strained ligaments, pulled muscles and other soft tissue traumas are painful experiences for your pup. Damage to the muscles or joints is the most common cause of limping in dogs. Young puppies are particularly prone to soft tissue injuries resulting from rough play, according to Dr. Eric Barchas. Your furry friend can even develop a sprain or strain during your daily walk around the block, although the risk is much higher when he's tired or exercising on rough terrain.

Fractures and Breaks

An excited puppy can damage the fragile bones in his legs and feet in a moment of recklessness. His bones also can crack or bend out of shape when he slips into a hidden hole in the yard or loses his footing on the stairs. Incomplete fractures are mostly seen in puppies, while complete breaks are a primarily a problem for mature canines, according to American College of Veterinary Surgeons. Fractured bones also can breach the surface of the skin, which allows harmful bacteria to infect the open wound.

Torn Ligaments

A ligament tear can happen in an instant, but it takes weeks or months for your pup to recover from it. These injuries are more common in adult canines over 5 years old, but puppies can suffer from them as well. Pups with a torn ligament must have surgery to attach it again, while sprains to the ACL can be treated with less invasive techniques. Ligament tears are usually painful, so your pup likely will cry loudly immediately after the injury. However, outward signs of pain often diminish during the days and weeks afterward, which makes it more difficult to assess the scope of chronic injuries, according to Bend Veterinary Specialists.

Knee and Hip Disorders

Genetic factors and birth defects can cause deformities in the leg joints of your puppy, predisposing him to knee cap displacement. Rough play and exercise also can cause the hip joint to shift out of location, a condition called hip dysplasia. Bulldogs, pugs and a handful of other breeds have a hereditary predisposition to this type of injury due to uneven bone growth as puppies. Veterinarians must conduct X-ray examinations to identify the severity of the problem before deciding on the best surgical option for the patient, according to the Merck Manual for Pet Health.