Shoulder Injuries

The shoulder of your pet

The shoulder of your pet

It has been a while since this was posted so I thought I would re-post it so when I gave the second part later this week you would be able to find them together.

Shoulder injuries are so difficult to diagnose and they can be extremely hard to rehabilitate. The shoulder blade in your pet is not attached by bone to the body but by a large mass of muscles and this fact makes it hard to see anything on radiographs.

Each front leg supports about 30% of your dog’s weight in normal movement but that weight can increase 3-5 times depending on which activity they are doing — the force can be enormous.

As your dog runs and dodges he also places a large amount of force on the abductors and adductors of the shoulder complex — these are the muscles that allow him to change directions. I am a huge baseball fan — think about all the crazy pictures you have seen of pitchers with their arms back ready to release the ball. I don’t know about you but I have tried to get my arms in those crazy positions and it just ain’t happening.

The typical scenario of shoulder injury is that the pet hurts themselves and limps a couple of days then get better. A few weeks later they are lame again and it may be very subtle — as a friend says, “only a limp a mother would note”. A head bob can also be an indication that there is something wrong on the front end.

Your veterinarian will do a thorough examination and may recommend radiographs to rule out things such as arthritis, elbow dysplasia, and fractures. Radiographs will not show a soft tissue injury so be prepared in case they don’t find a bony problem. If it is a soft tissue injury further diagnostics such as diagnostic ultrasound or MRI may be needed.

This type of injury can be very innocent such as slipping on the floor or from some type of sporting injury such as tripping, hard turns, or jumping. Some signs noted in competition pets are avoiding jumps, decreased stride length, warmth to the shoulder and head bobs. There are, of course, numerous other signs but these are some of the prominent ones.

One of the best ways to prevent shoulder issues is by correctly warming up your pet and doing some basic stretching (you knew it was coming down to this). This can be as simple as having your pet stand up against you or by doing the play bows. Next week we will discuss how to look at your dog’s conformation to see if he runs the risk of shoulder injury.

Have a great week!

4 Responses to Shoulder Injuries

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *