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What is Front Leg Injury?

You may observe your pet limping or appearing unable to bear weight on the front leg. The injury may present as a sudden occurrence, or slowly develop over time. In either case, your dog is experiencing discomfort and must be seen by a veterinarian. Leaving the injury undiagnosed or untreated is not recommended. Front leg injuries can range in severity, and it must be noted that some injuries can lead to paralysis of the leg if left untreated.

A front leg injury in a dog can be a complex diagnostic case. Factors such as trauma due to an accident, or an injury caused by repetitive strain can cause acute pain for your pet. If your dog has changed gait or appears to have lameness in the forelimb, immediate care by a veterinarian is important in order to avoid the possibility of permanent front leg debility.

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Front Leg Injury Average Cost

From 214 quotes ranging from $500 - $6,000

Average Cost

$2,500

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Symptoms of Front Leg Injury in Dogs

Dogs may exhibit the following signs as the result of a front leg injury:

  • Swelling
  • Lack of weight bearing on the limb
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscular pain
  • Bruising (this may not be easy to detect)
  • Decreased range of motion in leg or shoulder
Types

There is a broad range of injuries that are possibly associated with the canine front leg. In reality, the anatomy of a dog’s leg is very complex. The bones and ligaments can easily be cracked, stretched or twisted when impact is applied through running, jumping or by virtue of an accident or jolting impact as listed below:

  • Bone fracture
  • Torn ligaments or tendons
  • Dislocated joints
  • Brachial plexus avulsion (muscles, blood vessels, and nerves are pulled from the limb)
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Bone infection after an injury or animal bite
  • Bruised, degenerated or torn muscle
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Causes of Front Leg Injury in Dogs

Your dog may suffer a front leg injury that will need immediate medical intervention due to various factors; examples being as follows:

  • Extreme traumatic events, like being hit by a car or experiencing a fall
  • Sprains
  • Jumping while at play and causing an injury to the ligaments or joints
  • An injury that occurs as the result of a progressive disease such as arthritis
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Diagnosis of Front Leg Injury in Dogs

Choosing to self-evaluate, or taking a wait and see approach is not advised due to the complexity of a front leg injury. The resolution of the problem and the elimination of pain is highly important, as is the significance in treating before further (sometimes irreversible) damage happens. Quick and proper diagnosis will involve one or more of the following procedures:

  • Examination

    - The veterinarian will perform a manipulation of the leg to see the range of motion, comparing it to the noninjured limb.

  • X-Ray

    - This imaging procedure will show bone fractures, dislocations or misalignments, and abnormal joint movement.

  • Fluoroscopy

    - This is like an x-ray movie that is used to diagnose the injury while actually having the leg demonstrate a range of motion. The veterinarian may see dislocations, excessive joint openings or abnormal joint motion.

  • MRI

    - This method of diagnosis can show a ligament sprain, and brachial plexus avulsion (which can result in complete paralysis of the front limb).

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Treatment of Front Leg Injury in Dogs

Due to the fact that the causation can be so broad, treatment will correlate to the type, severity, and age of the front leg injury. Some cases of injury may be treated as described below:

  • Sprains or ligament injuries

    - Sprains are graded as a severity of 1, 2 or 3. A sprain of 1 or 2 may require rest and medications, or a splint, for 6 to 8 weeks. Grade 3 might require a surgical repair of the ligament. It must be noted that ligament injuries can have a very lengthy healing time and often after one year, it will be found that only 60% of the strength is regained. Permanent instability is also a possibility.

  • Fractures

    - Fractures are sometimes due to a compression injury or a blunt force impact. Fractures may warrant a surgical repair, though some injuries may heal through the use of a splint or cast. 

  • Brachial Plexus Avulsion

    - This is a very complex injury. Surgery may be attempted, but there can be major complications for your dog during the recovery period. Often, your pet can no longer feel the limb. Unusual sensations in the limb which may present after surgery can cause your dog to self-mutilate the limb. Amputation of the limb might be the best option for your pet’s comfort, due to the fact that severe pulls damage the nerves beyond repair.

There are other injuries such as dislocation (repair possible by manipulation or surgery), elbow injury (surgical repair) or infection (antibiotics may be the only treatment needed).

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Recovery of Front Leg Injury in Dogs

The veterinary follow up and home management strategy will depend on the type and severity of front leg injury. The recovery of many limb injuries might require the use of bandages or wraps for a period of several weeks. Physical therapy may be necessary to regain range of motion. Antibiotics and pain medications may be prescribed. Complete rest will definitely be in the recovery protocol while maintaining a healthy weight for your dog so as not to put added stress on the limb. As your dog recovers, you must keep in contact with your veterinarian and report any concerns without delay. Once your veterinarian has given permission, maintain a regular moderate exercise routine to rebuild muscle strength.

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Cost of Front Leg Injury in Dogs

The veterinarian will first need to perform a physical examination to try to determine the type and extent of the injury. The examination will cost $50-90 on average. The veterinarian will then require an X-Ray to further determine the type of injury and what treatment is needed. The X-Ray can cost between $150-400. If the injury is minor (i.e. a sprain or fracture) then a simple splint may do the trick. The splint cost depends on the size of the dog, usually between $100-300. The veterinarian may determine that the injury cannot heal with a splint or cast and, therefore, would require surgery. This surgery will cost anywhere between $1500 to $3000, depending on severity. Finally, if the veterinarian has assessed the injury and it won’t heal with the help of a splint, cast, or surgery, then she may suggest amputation. Amputation of a limb can cost between $400 and $2000. The final cost of repairing a front leg injury mainly depends on the severity of the injury.

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Front Leg Injury Average Cost

From 214 quotes ranging from $500 - $6,000

Average Cost

$2,500

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Front Leg Injury Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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Labrador Retriever

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One Year

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Left Front Paw

No redness or swelling that I can see seems to hurt nail area maybe split nail

Feb. 13, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello, It does look like a broken toenail. I will clean this with soap and water and apply Neosporin. Also, try to keep him from licking this area.

Feb. 13, 2021

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Chihuahua

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Four Months

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Unknown severity

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4 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Arm

Hi yes I recently got a chihuahua and recently she’s been having some pain in her arm some times she yelps out of no where but she walks perfectly fine and I even rubbed her arm and massaged all around it aswell even stretching it out and she didn’t cry in pain I can’t really tell what going on with her

Nov. 26, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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4 Recommendations

Hi there, you are through to Dr Linda. I'm sorry to hear this. You don't mention how long this has been going on but something like a simple strain or slight inflammation should resolve by itself after a few days of rest. If the issue is persisting or worsening we should have the dog examined by a vet. They may advise x-rays. There are many possibilities including a bad muscle strain, elbow dysplasia, congenital joint disease, bone cyst etc.

Nov. 26, 2020

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Dachshund

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Thirteen Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Limping

My dachshund started limping before bed last night and it is even worse today. I'm not sure when it happened or how it happened or if it was when he jumped off of the couch, but he is definitely experiencing pain and can't apply pressure to his leg. I feel some kind of knot kinda where his elbow is but its on the outside of his leg kinda between his elbow and where his shoulder are. When I say knot it is hard like bone.. I'm concerned because he is so old now and he is a bit overweight.

Nov. 20, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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1 Recommendations

Hi there, you are through to Dr. Linda. I'm sorry to hear this. He needs to be seen by a vet who can examine him and possibly run some tests such as an xray to determine what is going on. Possible causes include exacerbated arthritis, a muscle strain, a fracture, a dislocation, a bone tumour etc. Treatment will depend on the cause but he will likely be given some prescription anti inflammatories and pain relief. Rest him strictly and have him seen as soon as you can.

Nov. 20, 2020

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Pit Bull

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Limping On Leg

My dog is limping and kinda holding her right leg out. She still puts a little weight on it but not much.

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. It is hard to say, fortunately, without being able to examine your dog what might have happened with her leg, but if she is continuing to limp and it does seem to be improving, the best thing to do would be to have her seen by a veterinarian. She may have a strain or a sprain, or there may be an infection in a joint or something else going on. They will be able to see her and let you know what sort of treatment she might need. I hope that all goes well for her.

Oct. 3, 2020

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Yorkshire Terrier

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Six Years

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Unknown severity

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4 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Front Leg Limping

She was ok abs when we woke up next morning she wouldn’t put weight on her front leg she is limping

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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4 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If she is not putting any weight on the leg and is walking on three legs, then it would be best to have her seen by your veterinarian. If she is hobbling but putting weight on the leg, then she may have a strain or sprain, and keeping her quiet for a day or two may help. If the problem is not getting better, then having her see your veterinarian would be a good idea. I hope that all goes well!

Oct. 4, 2020

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Zeus

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Australian Shepherd

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1 Year

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Front Leg Limp

My 1 year old Aussie has had an on and off again limp on his front leg/paw. I am curious about if its growing pains, just from playing too hard and fast or something worse. Our initial Vet appointment, the vet said nothing seemed out of place but X-rays seem to be the next option. He plays and run and jumps like theres no pain and often there is no limp for a while and then we will see it again. It often seems worse after sleeping. He runs pretty hard and loves to jump and is often skidding when he plays fetch. Wondering if theres anyone else who experienced this as Im really worried

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Jessie

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Dalmatian

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5 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

We have a Dalmatian with an unknown injury to her paw on her left leg. After a lot of weight on that leg/paw, just randomly throughout the day or after some exercise. She lets out a high pitch Yelp before lifting up that leg and not using it for sometime. Eventually she puts it down but begins limping on it. We found she had pus on one of her toes, which was painful to touch. She also had a foreign body enter in between one of her toes. Unsure if it was a bite or a splinter. She had most of her leg wrapped up to take away some of the pain but also to reduce her licking it. Was given an anti inflammatory/pain relief tablets. The pus is long gone and the site where a foreign body had entered. However the issue is still going on. I believe it could be a tendon or a ligament which is causing this issue. We are waiting to hear back from the vets. Does anyone have any suggestions.

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Lily

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Chihuahua

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9 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Limping

I have a 9 year old Chihuahua that jump out of the car going about 15 mph (landed on grass). She seemed fine for a few days, and even went for a short walk. Then she started walking on the side of her front paw. I brought her to the vet, had x-rays done, and I was told it's probably just a sprain. 5 months later, I took her back to the vet since she hasn't stopped walking on the side of her paw yet. They told me she has severe arthritis, and may not be a surgical candidate to fuse her leg, and in most cases dogs like that get put down in about 6 months. This is too hard to believe it's not an injury related to the accident since the weekend before we went for a walk over a mile long with no issues. She hasn't lost her appetite. She's completely fine if she's playing with the cat. I can touch it without her yelping in pain.

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Star

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pit lab mix

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1 Year

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Disfiguration

For the past few days, my family and I have noticed that on my 40-50ish lb pit-lab mix, behind her right front leg, there is something that seems to be poking out. It feels more like bone than skin, and when we've lifted up the fur, there doesn't seem to be any bump or anything on the skin itself. She doesn't limp or act like it hurts unless we touch it, just making her tail go in between her legs and to just kind of feel uncomfortable. She is ~1 year (rescue).

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Cricket

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Toy Pomerainan

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12 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Front Leg Weakness,

My toy Pom is 12yrs old and has a couple of medical issues. Her name is Cricket. She has a 6/6 heart mur mur and has these spells where she will just collapse and fall over, she screams and loses bodily functions. She never completely passes out. The vets thinks it possible that they are mini stroke and she is taking liquid copper in case there are any brain bleeds. There are never any lasting effects, it does take alittle out of her and sometimes it takes alittle longer for her to recover, usually it takes from 30 mins to a couple of hours for her to come back to normal. One time she had 2 one right after the other and it took her about a 3 weeks or so to get back to normal. But she started doing this weird thing with her left front leg right about the first time she started having these episodes and we started tracking them and its about every 3-4 mons. she lifts it up and it shakes abit and she acts like it doesn't work, its real hard for her to get in a laying position when its occurring and she does act like it is weak also when she is laying down its always folded under instead straight out like her right front leg.. She has not been very active for quite some time since i found out about the mur mur and her heart being so enlarged. It has gradually gotten worse over the last few months and we really thought it is associated with her spells but i just don,t know. i cant stand to see her struggle to get up and down. She takes Enalapril for blood pressure and vetmedin for her heart and furosumide for any fluid build up. If there is anyone that can help me know what to do for her please let me know. She still eats and drinks and had a good quality of life, shes happy and knows she is so loved. I take her everywhere i go cuz i am not about to be there for her if she needs me. I got her when she was the size of my hand and i vowed to love and protect her for her entire life. She is my world.I am going to try glucosamine, my vet said it was okay to give to her with her other meds. Please help me help my baby! Thanks so much for reading my issue!

Front Leg Injury Average Cost

From 214 quotes ranging from $500 - $6,000

Average Cost

$2,500

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