Tips to Help Your Dog Heal from a Pulled Muscle

It can be heartbreaking to see your best furry friend in pain, and luckily it is not too difficult to help your dog heal from a muscle pull. So, what is a muscle Pull? A strain in the muscle that leads to a soft tissue injury is common. Overuse, misuse, or tiredness can overstretch the muscle or tear the tendons.

Can dogs experience muscle pull?

Yes! Just like human beings, they can also strain and pull their muscles. Since dogs love to play and are active, they can overstretch their muscles during horseplay activities. They can suffer a muscle pull even when going for a gentle walk. A dog can sustain a minor injury or a muscle strain anytime. Dogs and puppies are excitable and bring a high level of energy. Sometimes they can get into trouble because too many long days in the dog park can strain their muscles or lead to an accidental leg twist.

Some dogs and pups are more prone to suffer muscle sprains due to being overweight. Since dogs cannot tell us what problem they are facing, we must be careful and look for distress signs or muscle symptoms to give proper treatment.

A back or neck hurts mostly because of the ways mentioned above, which is overuse. Neck muscle pulls also happen when the collar is pulled too much.

Risk factors for a dog muscle strain

Certain risk factors make a dog more prone to muscle strain than others, such as

  • Obesity

·         Arthritis disease

  • Couch potato pups who are inactive
  • Dogs active only during weekends (weekend warriors)

Common muscle pulls in dogs.

A dog can pull muscles anywhere in the body, but the most common strained areas are

  • Neck muscle pulls   A wobbly gait is a sign of neck sprain in dogs—other symptoms include postural change with back curled upward, swelling, and pain touching the neck area. The dog also exhibits lethargic behavior.
  • Front leg muscle pulls A hesitancy to walk, pain when touched, and a limp are front leg muscle pull symptoms.
  • Back leg muscle pulls Limping, swelling, pain on touch, and inability to walk and sit on hind legs are symptoms of back leg sprain.

What steps to take if the dog pulls a muscle?

Among the pets, dogs are the most active animals, and their bones and muscles get stressed out due to prolonged walking or playing—bad landings on the feet and degenerative change in the muscle results in injuries and sprains. Most common, however, is a muscle pull.

Knowing the symptoms of the muscle strain is the first step toward understanding the issue. It is a common misconception that a dog can suffer muscle strain only after a strenuous workout, and a light walk can also cause muscle strain.

A mild or moderate muscle strain will have stiff muscles that are still flexible. A more severe strain will have extreme pain and limited muscle movement.

If you notice the dog is limping, it is a sign of a bone injury or muscle pull. You should immediately show the dog to a veterinarian and ensure that the dog does not put pressure on the injured leg. Taking advice from the veterinarian is important, but the easiest step is to make the dog rest as more physical activity may aggravate the problem.

Diagnosing a limp is a challenge, and a physical examination by the Vet or an X-Ray or MRI can help determine the muscles’ actual condition and the severity of the injury. Based on the veterinarian’s advice, one must follow the instructions as directed and not overdo the treatment.

How to heal a Dog with a pulled muscle?

Muscle strains are normal and minor and easily be treated at home. However, before starting treatment at home, it is important to know if the dog suffers from a minor muscle pull, a pup hairline fracture, or a leg sprain.

Treatment of pulled muscle involves using anti-inflammatory medicines and pain relievers to reduce swelling and pain. Only in severe cases is surgery necessary. It is seen that muscle injury in dogs occurs at the point where the nerve fiber is attached to the muscle or nerves that serve the muscles. Tearing, stretching, or tingling muscle fibers is difficult to observe because thick hairs cover them.

You can see the damage by spreading the dog’s hair and will notice the redness on the skin caused by muscle damage. If the damage is more severe, it usually takes three weeks to heal, and in some cases, a few months are needed to restore the muscles to normal. It heals by itself in a week or two for a mild muscle strain.

Recovering from a muscle pull at home

After diagnosis and treatment instruction from the Vet, you can treat your dog at home. Here are some of the recovery protocols that need to be followed:

Complete Rest

This is the best way to get your dog to recover from a pulled muscle. Your dog needs plenty of rest, and they should not tire out, especially if the movement makes the muscle causes pain. Getting them to rest can be a struggle, so giving them the best possible care and making it easy and comfortable is required. Setting up a comfortable bed near you will help you keep a close watch for the first few days. This is the time to comfort the dog and ensure they stick to the rest area and do not move around when you are not there.

Keeping the dog on a leash for the first one or two weeks helps to restrict movement. Later should be limited to necessary visits to the Vet only, and they should be slow. Another way to restrict the movement is to get a ramp for the bed that prevents the dog from jumping out.

Too much rest can also cause muscle atrophy or muscle weakness which makes the recovery time longer. After the necessary weeks of rest, take the dog for easy and short walks to move the affected muscle.

The muscle recovery time

Keep your dog on complete rest for a week or so, and after that, allow small controlled movement that helps the dog recover. If you find that they are tired from their behavior, let them rest. Pushing too fast into activity will prolong the healing process. Depending on the severity of the muscle strain, it may take several weeks to a month for the dog’s strength to return. Physiotherapy and massage can help to rejuvenate the affected areas.

Applying Ice Pack 

Whether it is human beings or dogs, applying ice is a proven and effective way to deal with acute injuries. In the first 48 hours, regular icing goes a long way to reduce inflammation and swelling. Ice should be wrapped in a towel, applied on the affected muscle area for 10 minutes, and then reapplied every 15 minutes to prevent ice burns and provide relief. Repeating the application of ice three times a day for the first week is helpful.

One should not apply heat to acute injuries as it causes more inflammation. Instead of applying ice directly on the skin muscle, an ice pack will be better. It is also possible that your pet care first aid kit will have one ice bag. When applying the ice pack to the affected muscle area, you should make your dog calm and still.


A vet may prescribe your dog some anti-inflammatory medicine to be taken in the first few days of the injury, depending on how severe the pain and swelling are. These pills will help the dog relax and allow faster healing by reducing inflammation.

Another option is anti-inflammatory supplements made from natural ingredients such as turmeric, quercetin, and arnica if you do not want to use standard medication.

First Aid Assistance

Sometimes a muscle injury in a dog happens due to playing rough only. These are not serious injuries; they can easily be treated at home with first aid assistance. The first aid kit for pets will include tools, including elastic bandages with manuals on how to administer them to the dog. Bandaging the affected muscle around the leg not too tightly helps reduce the swelling.

Use of light therapy

Damaged tissues can be healed with light therapy. It helps reduce swelling and pain and promotes healing without any side effects. This makes your pet dog feel better a recover faster.

Massaging the muscles

Massaging the muscles can help to alleviate pain and make the muscle heal faster. One can refer to many pet massage techniques. Massaging your dog’s affected muscle area will help improve mobility, reduce discomfort and pain and help the dog move its legs more comfortably. One can check out the many online resources that tell on how to massage your dog. The other feasible option is to consult your Vet.

Using heat pads

In some cases, heat application is recommended. They can be used several days after the injury by using heat pads several times during the day, and this helps to improve the injured muscles’ blood circulation.

How to prevent your dog from getting a pulled muscle

Food –

To Prevent your Dog from getting muscle pulls, it is important to provide correct nutrition and supplements. For example, if your dog does not get the essential nutrients from proteins such as amino acids, the muscles will not have enough energy for contraction, leading to strain and injury.


Supplements –

Essential supplements like vitamins and minerals are important for your dog as they keep them healthy and prevent injuries like muscle sprains and arthritis. Most high-quality foods for dogs have essential nutrients. However, if you are feeding your homemade dog food, you need to include certain vitamins that can be added to the diet after consulting with the Vet.


Calories restriction –

Too much feeding the dog can lead to obesity, one of the top risks for a dog to pull a muscle. Also, it is seen that overweight dogs have weaker heart muscles, which affect the liver and other organs, and these cause muscle strains. When a dog is overweight, if it runs or jumps from the couch, its legs cannot sustain the weight of the body, making the animal prone to muscle or ligament pull.


Exercise –

Finally, if your dog does not have enough physical activity, it can be vulnerable to injuries. Taking your dog for a walk only may not be enough. Depending on the dog’s lifestyle and breed, some may require playtime and strenuous exercise regularly. If a dog does not get enough playtime, physical activity, or exercise and all of the sudden jumps around, it is possible to get a muscle pull or injury.


Summary – A few things to note

If you notice your dog is limping, it should not be ignored as a minor thing. The immediate thing is to fix an appointment with a veterinarian. If the diagnosis is a pulled muscle, certain steps can be taken to help the pet recover faster without any permanent damage. Incorrectly treating injuries may aggravate the problem. Another type of injury diagnosed by the Vet also requires braces, surgery, or more aggressive treatments.

Working to heal a muscle strain in a dog is not an easy task. Even after the recovery, when the dog moves around normally, it is important to maintain a healthy, anti-inflation-centric diet for the dog. Plus, keeping the dog active helps to prevent injuries from happening again.


The road to recovery from the pulled muscle of your dog can be long and challenging, and these tips in this article can help in a smooth, fast recovery.

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