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Muscle injury in dogs – how it happens, how you can recognize it and how the rehab should be done.

Both, for example, when playing with other dogs, but also in dog sports, muscle injuries often occur. Among them, painful muscle strains, muscle pulls, the muscle fiber tear, muscle bundle tear and the muscle tear are the best known. They are all based on the same mechanism of injury and differ only in the severity of the muscle injury. Other musculoskeletal disorders include inflammation of the muscles, sometimes involving the periosteum, as in the tibia, and muscle inflammation and neuronal irritation, as in the adductor muscles.

Possible symptoms of muscle injury in dogs

When a muscle injury occurs, there is a sudden, sharp to stabbing pain. The other symptoms are:

  • Swelling
  • temporary denting
  • Bruise
  • Restricted movement and, depending on the severity, immobility

If a strain or tension is present, movement is possible with minimal reduction in force. In the case of a muscle fiber tear, there is a loss of contraction. If a muscle bundle tear or muscle tear is present, immobility occurs. In about five days after the injury, symptoms should improve significantly for a painful strain and pulled muscle. For more serious injuries, only a slight improvement in symptoms is normal at this time.

Treatment of the muscle injury

When a dog suffers muscle injury, one should immediately apply the PECH rule. This means:

P – Take a break

E – Put on ice

C – Create Compression

H – Elevated position

It is important to present the dog to the veterinarian and have it treated appropriately for the injury. In the case of a torn muscle fiber or muscle tear, a puncture may eventually be necessary and suturing of the torn fibers may be required. Following a muscle injury, appropriate rehabilitation is necessary. The exact measures in physiotherapy always depend on the type and severity of the injury. However, physiotherapy should be started immediately.

Basically, muscles need appropriate time to regenerate. In physiotherapy, for example, physical therapies such as electrotherapy, laser therapy or ultrasound therapy can be a good support. Depending on the rehab status, massages, training in the UWL and active movement exercises of various kinds can also be used. The selection of therapeutic measures is always based on the individual patient.

Rehabilitation for muscle injuries can be roughly divided into five phases:

During physiotherapeutic treatment, warming of the injured muscle should always be considered. In addition, gradual, painless (!) stretching is important to prevent scar retraction. This means a shrinking of the tissue as part of the healing process. This can cause narrowing and contractures. This also counteracts a new rupture or injury. Muscle injury in the dog

Rehabilitation phase 1

The first step is to start with the careful mobilization of the connective tissue. Under no circumstances should the injured tissue be overstretched or subjected to too much stress. Gentle massage may also be useful, depending on the injury. Pain relief is very important at this stage.

Rehabilitation phase 2

Now it is a matter of successively increasing the resilience. Isometric muscle exercises without the use of force are very useful here. The advantage of isometric movement exercises is that it is a muscle workout without a change in the length of the muscles.

Phase 3 of rehabilitation muscle injury in dogs

The third phase of rehab involves introducing the injured muscles to functional loading and stretching. In addition, joint mobility should be trained. If movements are possible without pain, isotonic training can be started. This is characterized by a constant muscle tension under movement, i.e. a muscle length change. Light strength training and endurance training can be started. Training should always be done carefully.

Rehabilitation phase 4

In the fourth phase of rehabilitation, coordination training is particularly important to improve the interaction of nerves, muscles and joints. Increasing activation and loading of the injured muscle is now possible.

Rehabilitation phase 5

In the fifth phase of rehabilitation, the main focus is now on sports-specific rehabilitation training. Here, training should be consciously based on what is needed for the sport. The most important muscle groups for the respective sport should be trained specifically in order to strengthen the interaction of muscles, tendons and joint and to ensure good protection of the joint through a stable musculature. Muscle injury in dog

Complication that can occur with a muscle injury

The following complications may occur if a muscle is injured:

– Scarring

– Cyst formation muscle injury in dog

– Myositis ossificans

Osteoarthritis caused by temporary, restricted mobility of a joint

Prevention of muscle injuries in sports

Muscular imbalances should be avoided. This can be effectively prevented with targeted strength training. A good warm-up is indispensable before stress or sporting activity. After sports, you should take time for a cool down. If the dog has suffered a muscle injury, it should always heal properly.

Muscle injury in dog

What happens if you start training too soon after a muscle injury?

It is not uncommon to return to sports or begin sport-specific training too soon after a muscular injury. This increases the risk of re-injury. Thus, the dog should not begin active muscle exercises until they are guaranteed to be possible without pain. If the dog shows signs of pain, the load must be reduced.

When can you start sport-specific training after muscle injuries?

When to return to sport-specific training depends on the type and severity of the injury. Roughly, it can be said that in the case of muscle strains, the sport-specific load-bearing capacity is usually restored after two to four weeks. In the case of a muscle fiber tear after four to eight weeks. If the dog suffers from a muscle tear, sport-specific training is usually possible again after 12-16 weeks. Basically, however, each case must be considered and treated individually.

When is a muscle injury considered healed Muscle injury in dogs

A muscular injury is considered healed when the affected muscle can be contracted without discomfort. Normal range of motion should be restored and there should be no restriction in mobility in adjacent joints.

Here’s what you can actively do yourself as a dog owner in case of muscle injuries

As a dog owner, you can give your dog relief with quark wraps, for example. However, always discuss the application with your treating therapist. In addition, supportive active movement exercises are important and you can have your canine physiotherapist show you these as a homework program to accompany the treatment.

Conclusion for the rehabilitation of muscle injuries

Muscle injuries need sufficient time to heal completely. Care should also be taken to heal appropriately to prevent re-injury. The rehabilitation of sporting dogs, whose musculature is exposed to particularly intensive stress, is much more differentiated and intensive. With athletically trained dogs, it is important to be careful not to return to athletic activity too quickly to avoid re-injury. Muscle injury in dog

All the love, your Tina

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