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What is Soft Tissue Trauma?

The term 'Soft tissue' can refer to any tissue that is not bone, including oral tissues such as the lips, tongue, muscles or tonsils. Soft tissue trauma is generally understood to be any damage that is causing symptoms such as pain, but that do not involve the bone or skin. As dogs are often quite active and athletic, this type of injury is relatively common and usually resolves completely in all but the most severe of injuries.

Damage to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments are common in dogs but can take some time and patience before they can be repaired.

Soft Tissue Trauma Average Cost

From 392 quotes ranging from $500 - $1,000

Average Cost

$600

Symptoms of Soft Tissue Trauma in Dogs

Soft tissue trauma like strains, sprains, and muscle damage have many of the same symptoms as minor fractures, bone degeneration, infections and even cancerous conditions. This makes a confirmation of the condition by a veterinary professional crucial.

  • Depression
  • Excessive licking of joints or legs
  • Lethargy
  • Limping
  • Limp tail
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pain
  • Reddened joints
  • Exercise reluctance
  • Swollen joints
  • Swollen paws
  • Unexplained crying out
  • Yelping when touched

Types

  • Medial shoulder instability (MSI) - This is one of the most common forelimb problems in dogs as it relies almost entirely upon soft tissue fibers for stability as it does not have a stable socket; along with the standard symptoms of soft tissue damage, you may see your dog refusing tight turns
  • Sprain - A sprain in an injury that tears or stretches the ligament; ligaments connect bone to bone and are a primary component to joints 
  • Strain - A strain refers to the tearing or stretching of either the muscle or of the strong bands of fibrous tissue that connects the muscles to the bones, called tendons
  • Ligament rupture. One very common injury in dogs, especially larger breeds, is a ruptured cruciate ligament of the knee.
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Causes of Soft Tissue Trauma in Dogs

Sprains, strains, and muscle damage are most often caused by trauma or injury. This can occur through traumatic incidents such as an automobile accident or a dog fight, or through a more mundane situation such as slipping on ice or attempting too ambitious a jump. Fast growing breeds and overweight dogs are more prone to sprains of all sorts and dogs with long backs, like Dachshunds and German Shepherds, are more likely to develop strains and sprains in the back and neck area.

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Diagnosis of Soft Tissue Trauma in Dogs

Symptoms of anything more than an extremely mild injury should be evaluated by a veterinarian as soon as possible, and even mild limping should be treated if it lasts more than 48 hours. Muscular strains and damage, minor fractures, bone degeneration, and even cancerous conditions have nearly identical symptoms in the initial stages and often require imaging technology to differentiate between them. 

A thorough physical examination, paying particular attention to the joints and musculature, will help to pinpoint the area of pain as well as assess the severity of the injury. Radiographs (x-rays) will usually be employed to visualize the joints and bones in the area, in order to rule out other disorders such as fractures and osteoarthritis. Arthroscopy is an imaging technique that allows the examiner to get a clear visual image of the ligaments and tendons of any affected joints. An arthroscopy is a surgical procedure, performed by inserting an endoscope into the joint using a small incision.

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Treatment of Soft Tissue Trauma in Dogs

There are some steps that you should take while you are contacting your dog’s doctor, such as placing a covered ice pad on the affected area to help reduce pain and swelling and making sure that the animal doesn’t aggravate the injury any further by resting them. Severe damage almost always entails some sort of surgery to remove or repair ligaments, tendons, and muscles, and if complete healing is accomplished, it will require more extensive healing time. 

Even soft tissues such as tendons, ligaments, and muscles that do not require surgical intervention take some time to heal properly and go through predictable stages of healing.

Stage 1

This is the more acute stage of the injury, usually within the first few hour hours after the injury up until around five days of healing. Treatment care at this point is focused on reducing pain, swelling, and inflammation and activity should be extremely restricted.

Stage 2

This occurs between around five and twenty-one days and is when active healing is starting to take place. Some light activity such as short, on leash walks and gentle stretching would be tolerated well at this point. 

Stage 3

This stage can be as short as three to six weeks, or it could last up to a year, depending mainly on the severity of the damage as well as the quality of care.

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Recovery of Soft Tissue Trauma in Dogs

If the soft tissue damage is minor and does not require surgery, aftercare should be fairly simple. Keep your dog as inactive as possible during the first stage of the healing period to avoid causing the sprain to reoccur. Continue with the prescribed pain relief and anti-inflammatories and add in new exercises as recommended by your veterinarian. 

After any surgery, it is essential to keep the site clean and free from dirt and debris. You will need to keep your pet from interfering with the site and examine it often over the next two or three weeks for swelling, bleeding or pus. Keeping your recovering dog in a calm, quiet environment will help encourage healing, as will having appropriate food and water within his reach. A buster collar may be required, as may crate rest. For many, physiotherapy and hydrotherapy will be important for long-term recovery.

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Soft Tissue Trauma Average Cost

From 392 quotes ranging from $500 - $1,000

Average Cost

$600

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Soft Tissue Trauma Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Chiweenie

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Five Years

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Unknown severity

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20 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Muscle Tremors

My dog was diagnosed with a soft tissue injury on her right hind leg. She was yelping out in pain constantly and couldn’t get comfortable. She was sent home with gabapentin and rimadyl. She didn’t have an X-ray taken. She is having muscle tremors on that right leg. Is this normal ?

Sept. 5, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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20 Recommendations

Hello- If she is unable to get comfortable I do think it would be a good idea to have her rechecked and have an x-ray, just to rule out a fracture or hip luxation. Muscle tremors can occur when they are in pain. She also may need an injection of pain medication to help make her more comfortable. I hope she feels better soon!

Sept. 5, 2020

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Great Dane

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Two Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Limping

He was limping for 2 days, he still is but not as heavily. But today a lump appeared in back leg under the skin behind the knee. It's not hurting him.

July 31, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Large breed dogs are a little bit more prone to joint and Bone injuries than are smaller dogs, and if this problem has been going on for a couple of days and not really improving, it would probably be best to have him seen by a veterinarian. I'm not sure what the lump might be without being able to see him, but it may be related, and they will be able to look at him and see if there is anything that needs to be done or what treatment he might need. I hope that everything goes well for him and he feels better soon!

July 31, 2020

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Soft Tissue Trauma Average Cost

From 392 quotes ranging from $500 - $1,000

Average Cost

$600

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