Muscle Strain in Dogs

muscle strain in dogsMuscle strain in dogs is possible!

Most dogs, especially in their younger years, are very agile and mobile.  So, it’s no surprise then that they are susceptible to muscle strain, just like we, as humans, are.

Strain or Sprain, What’s the Difference?

Strains and Sprains both result in some degree of discomfort in your dog, however they are not the same.  Muscle strains occur in dogs when the tendon joining bones and muscle is stretched too far.  You can expect this to happen with dogs that run around a lot and generally lead very active lifestyles. On the other hand, Sprains occur when ligaments connecting bones are injured in some capacity.  Common sprains in dogs are the result of jumping.

Signs of Muscle Strain in Dogs

Muscle strain in dogs, as well as other pain syndromes are easy to spot when you know what to look for.  Some signs are classic and easily recognizable, while others you could potentially overlook if you don’t know what you are looking for.

Excessive grooming

In order to soothe the site of injury, your dog may fastidiously groom the area that is causing pain. This can manifest itself as chewing, licking or both. Upon further inspection, you may notice swelling, redness or other signs of pain.  You may also notice that your dog has licked or chewed the area of concern so much that loss of hair occurs.

Changes in Breathing Patterns

If your dog is suffering from pain of any kind, you may notice changes in breathing.  Whether your dog begins panting heavily or his breathing becomes quite shallow, it could be an indication of the presence of pain due to muscle strain or something else.


The easiest sign of pain, or muscle strain in dogs, is to recognize is limping.  This happens because a dog begins to favor, or carry less weight on, the limb that is causing the discomfort.


When muscle strain in your dog occurs, he may make it known to you by voicing his discomfort.  Your dog may whimper, growl, yelp or make any other number of noises.  If he does, try to consider why he is doing so as he just may be experiencing some level of pain.  He also may appear to be doing so under unusual circumstances.  If this is the case, do some investigation.

Next Steps

If your dog appears to be suffering from muscle strain, keep a close eye on him.  If he continues to struggle, try applying ice to the area for twenty minutes on and off.  If pain appears to persist, contact your veterinarian for further investigation.  More often than not, you will need to keep your dog as immobile as possible while he rests and recovers from his injury. Noticing the signs of muscle strain in your dog sooner rather than later is, of course, the best scenario.  Your dog will be on his way to a prompt recovery due your diligence and prompt recognition of his pain.

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