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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 qualified professional (i.e. surgical specialist) 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

Symptoms of Front Leg Injury in Dogs

Dogs will exhibit the following symptoms as the result of a front leg injury. (Please note that the symptoms listed here may also mean a shoulder injury or developing arthritis, which verifies the reason that a limp must be diagnosed in order for the issue to be treated properly.)

  • 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 a splint or wrap for 6 to 8 weeks. Grade 3 usually requires 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 often due to a compression injury or a blunt force impact at the tendon. Fractures often warrant a surgical repair, though some injuries may heal through the use of a splint or cast. In cases of small bone fractures, surgical repair sometimes is not an option because the bones are so small.

  • 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 is generally 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 veterinarian follow up, and home management strategy will depend on the type and severity of front leg injury. The recovery of many limb injuries will 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 $55 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 around $145. 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 $30 and $60. If it would require a cast, it could cost $100 or more depending on the size of the dog. The doctor may determine that the injury cannot heal with a splint or cast and, therefore, would require surgery. This surgery will cost anywhere between $540 and $1,230 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 $800. 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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Morkie

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10 weeks

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Slight Limp Front Leg

He just jumped out of my arms onto the sidewalk. Didn’t fall far. Was limping but seemed to walk it off. Playing and running fine.

Sept. 4, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. It sounds like your dog may have hurt himself temporarily, but if he is walking normally and acting like himself, you may be fine to continue to monitor him and he may be okay. If he continues to limp, or is crying or doesn't want to eat, then it would be best to have him seen by your veterinarian, but otherwise it seems that he is okay. I hope that all goes well for him.

Sept. 5, 2020

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Ori Pei

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Front Leg Tender To Touch And Swollen But Able To Walk

She has been being tx’d for atopic derm sinc beginning of summer. This yr has been the worst. Ive noticed her paw becoming more swollen, i wasnt sure if it was her pads or leg and then i noticed that in bw her toes. She pulls away her leg and guards it. There seems to b fine tremors when she has it pulled close to her but she doesnt cry. She frequently licks her leg. Ive soaked her foot in apple cider vinegar/water. Nyststin powder. I gave her arnica that seemed to help w the pain/inflammation Ive noticed shes been more fatigued (thght it was from the weather)

Aug. 24, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I'm sorry that your dog is not doing well. The swelling that you described may be related to allergies, but it may be related to an underlying problem with a bone or joint as well. Since you have tried treating it and has not gotten better, it would probably be best to have her seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine the leg and see what might be causing this problem and get treatment. I hope that she is okay and everything gets better soon.

Aug. 24, 2020

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German shepherd husky mix

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Two Years

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Limping

My dog was playing pretty hard all weekend. Last night she was walking around fine and this morning she got up and whined right away and was limping when moving.. she refused to come all the way down the stairs so i carried her to the couch. She hasnt got of the couch all day she did drink and eat but im not sure if i should bring her in or not.

Aug. 17, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Hello- Thank you for your question. I would recommend keeping her quiet overnight and limiting activity. If she is still limping tomorrow I would recommend scheduling an appointment with your veterinarian so they can examine her and take x-rays. They will also be able to prescribe appropriate pain medication for her. It could be a muscular injury, neck pain leading to concurrent leg pain or elbow dysplasia to name a few possibilities. I hope she feels better soon!

Aug. 18, 2020

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Beagle Mix

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Two Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Limping

Our dog jumped off the ottoman in play and instantly yelped. Instant limping. After an hour she can put a bit on weight on her front right leg and then lifts her paw and lays down. No whimpering or other yelps. She knows she hurts but she is bored too. It's like when she goes to put weight on it, her toes want to bend under her paw. It hurts our hearts to see her hurting. This happened late at night so we need to wait until the morning to find a vet.

Aug. 7, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If she landed badly on her foot, she may have strained or sprained the foot, and it may improve over 24 hours with rest. If it is still bothering her in the morning, and not improving, it would be a good idea to have a veterinarian look at it. If she is back to normal in the morning, she likely strained it and it will be okay.

Aug. 8, 2020

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Beagle

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Four Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Yelping In Pain, We Believe It’S Her Left Front Leg And We Have Put Hest On It And Given Her Aspirin With No Help.

We don’t know how to help her and aren’t sure if we should take her to the vet

Aug. 6, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If her leg is not feeling better after 24 hours, and she is crying in pain, she does need to see a veterinarian. Make sure that you let them know that she was given aspirin, as that can interact badly with many medications that they may want to give. I hope that she is okay.

Aug. 6, 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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pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

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

dog-age-icon

12 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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

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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Joint supplement for dogs

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