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.

Front Leg Injury Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$2,500

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

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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

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

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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17 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

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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17 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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Front Leg Injury Average Cost

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

Average Cost

$2,500

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