Dogs love to run and play. Unfortunately, the more active they are, the higher risk that your best friend will injure themselves, whether severe or minor caring for your dog’s front leg injury means giving them the proper care and leg support they need so that they can begin to heal.
Dogs carry around 60% of their weight on their front legs, which means their front legs have taken a lot of wear and tear over the years. Here are a few of the most common front leg injuries in dogs:
Elbow and Leg Injuries
A dog’s elbow is where its radius, ulna, and humerus bones meet. If any of the bones come out of alignment or experience uneven growth, your dog’s elbow can be in a lot of pain.
Although not an injury, osteosarcoma is a cancerous tumor occurring in the bones, causing your dog’s bones to weaken and make it more prone to joint and bone injuries. This cancer is highly aggressive and can be painful. Osteosarcoma can affect any bone but typically occurs in three places: the toes, in either the radius and the ulna of the front leg, or above the knee or the hip in the hind leg.
Cancer treatment will vary case by case. However, chemo, radiation, and surgery are a few treatment options. Depending on the dog, additional joint support may be needed as well.
The most common cause of front leg lameness, elbow dysplasia, occurs when the bones of a dog’s front arm do not align correctly—leading to a painful movement that affects a dog’s gait and, if left untreated, can lead to arthritis. A physical exam is needed for proper diagnosis and to assess your dog’s range of motion in their elbow.
Carpal and Wrist Injuries
Lower leg injuries in dogs are commonly caused by jumping or landing incorrectly, impacting a dog’s carpal joint and wrist.
Wrist Strains & Sprains
A dog’s wrist is located just above the paw on its lower front leg. Sprains can be caused by a dog jumping or landing too hard on impact. Sprains can occur to any dog and most commonly occur in active pets.
Like humans, sprains can be painful, and sprains can be painful and can affect a dog’s mobility long after the initial impact that first caused the injury. Wrist injuries cause dogs to limp, and their joints may be swollen and painful to touch.
A carpal hyperextension affects a dog’s carpal joint and surrounding ligaments, causing the joint to collapse. There are three leading causes of carpal hyperextension in dogs:
- Trauma-Induced Carpal Hyperextension: occurs when an excessive force causes the joint to collapse, this can occur in varying degrees depending on the accident.
- Carpal Hyperextension in Puppies: condition occurs at birth due to an abnormality in the development of the puppy’s ligaments and typically affects both front legs.
- Degenerative Carpal Hyperextension: affects senior dogs. As the joint deteriorates, the carpal joint slowly falls towards the ground, causing the dog to walk on its wrist and lower leg. It can affect one or both carpal joints.
The joint will need to be adequately splinted to heal, and severe cases may require more intensive veterinary care, rehabilitation, and possibly even surgery.
Brachial Plexus or Radial Nerve Damage Injuries
Radial nerve injuries typically arise from a severe traumatic event and are always a Veterinary emergency. The brachial plexus consists of nerve tissues that control a dog’s front legs, specifically the first two thoracic nerves and the last three cervical nerves.
If a dog experiences a brachial plexus injury, the nerves are stretched or torn, resulting in leg paralysis. Therapy can help, but most likely, the dog will need a wheelchair to stay mobile.
Other Conditions Affecting Canine Limbs
- Torn Ligaments or Tendons
- Bruised, torn or degenerated muscles
- Degenerative Joint Disease
- Neurological Conditions
Solutions for Your Dog’s Front Leg Injury
If your pet shows any signs of injury, you should first contact your Vet to rule out the possibility of a break or fracture. Here are a few simple ways you can help keep your pet’s front legs supported:
Dogs dealing with minor strains or sprains in their wrist will need the support and light compression of a dog wrist wrap. The Walkin’ Wrist Hugger is a neoprene wrap that sits snuggly around the carpal joint to stabilize your dog’s wrist without limiting mobility—allowing the dog to heal comfortably.
Splint Solutions for the Lower Front Leg
As your dog recovers, you want to ensure its joints are supported, and a splint is an easy option. The joint support is essential to stabilize the leg injury and promote healing.
How do you choose the right pet splint for your pet? A front leg splint or brace provides rigid support to help to keep the joint in position and supported as it heals. Canine splints are designed for use at home and are easy to take on and off, allowing you to maintain daily wound care. If your dog’s joint is swollen or bandaged, an adjustable splint can be widened to comfortably fit your dog’s leg and bandage. Choosing an adjustable splint allows for a custom-fitting brace, perfectly adjusted for your pet.
Injured German Shepherd Loves His Carpal Splint
“I found the splint he needed through Walkin’ Pets. This was a great idea because it gives the support he needs at the Carpal joint. Stihl has adjusted well wearing the splint. We checked with our vet who took X-rays. No broken bones were found, just a weak carpel joint due to his growing so fast. Walkin’ Pets was there for me when the Carpal Splint size I ordered was too small. They helped me with the return and re-order of the product. A big “Thank You” to Walkin’ Pets! You are a great company!”Chastity