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Can I do more to prevent common injuries in my dog?

As dedicated dog owners we often put a lot of pressure on ourselves to try to predict what our dogs will do and prevent them from getting hurt. But it's not always possible to stop our dogs doing silly things but it is sometimes possible to make simple changes to our and our dogs lives to help prevent some common injuries that I often see as a vet physio.

In this blog we will cover:

  1. Common injuries in dogs

  2. Changes you can make to help prevent these injuries

  3. What more can I do?

What injuries do dogs commonly experience?

Most dogs are not accident prone and live long and happy lives but there are some dogs who are not as lucky. So let's take a look at the most common injuries dogs seem to get.

  • Cruciate ligament ruptures- tears to the ligament within the knee joint are very common in dogs. As your dog ages these ligaments naturally become weaker and therefore are more prone to injury. These injuries often occur when dogs are running and jumping. Especially if there are lots of sharp turns (like during play) or if on slippery ground.

  • Fractures- breaks in the bones often occur after after road accidents or when dogs collide with things such as trees, walls or sporting equipment.

  • Cuts and scrapes- again often occur when our dogs run into things but are luckily usually minor unless sticks are involved and then they can be more serious.

  • Injuries to the spine and spinal cord- often occur when dogs run into trees or fall from a height.

  • Flare ups of OA- if your dog already has arthritis this is when the inflammation of their joints becomes worse for a short period of time usually after more exercise or high intensity exercise like jumping.

Some injuries like cruciate ruptures and OA flare ups are more commonly seen in older dogs usually starting at around 6-8 years upwards in my experience some breeds are more predisposed too such as labs, spaniels and border collies.

Can I make any changes to prevent injuries?

There are a few simple changes we can make as owners to help prevent injuries. This does not mean our dogs will never have an accident or get injured but it gives us the peace of mind that we have done everything we cna to prevent them. So what can you do?

  • Reduce high impact sports and exercises

  • Be mindful of where you allow your dogs to free run- nowhere near traffic, slippery surfaces like ice or laminate etc.

  • Keep dogs on short fixed leads when by cars

  • Don’t allow dogs to chase or carry sticks

  • Keep dogs on leads near cliffs, quarries and bridges

  • Ensure your dogs use all limbs equally and don’t favor one limb over the other

  • Ensure your dogs have good body awareness, movement and strength

Some of these you will be able to implement straightaway and some may take a little longer like increasing your dog's strength.

What more can I do?

As dog owners it can be easy to feel we aren’t doing enough. So is there anything more you can do?

  • Have regular physio and vet checks to keep on top of any small issues and to help you ensure your dog has good movement and strength

  • Stick to your dogs fitness plan

  • Regularly check your dog for cuts,ticks etc.

Not sure where to get started? Join me (Zoe Vet Physio at Fit-Pet Physio) and Jemma (Dog trainer at Ruffmutz) to go in depth into Fit Pups and Happy dogs. A new live series exploring the smart starts we can make now to give our dogs long and happy lives. Find out more now at:

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