Pulled Muscles in Dogs: Symptoms & Tips for Healing

Have you ever noticed your furry friend limping or favoring a certain leg? It’s possible that they have pulled a muscle or tendon. Pulled muscles, also known as muscle strains, are common myopathy injuries that affect the soft tissue in an animal’s body. These injuries can occur in any muscle or group of muscles and can be caused by various factors such as overexertiontrauma, or even genetics. If you suspect your pet has a pulled muscle or tendon, it’s important to take them to the vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Diagnosing a pulled muscle or myopathy in dogs can be challenging as it may be difficult to differentiate from other types of injuries like bone fractures or tendon issues. A thorough physical exam is necessary to diagnose the injury accurately and identify clinical signs. Treatment for pulled muscles typically involves rest, pain management, massage, and physical therapy to help the affected muscle or tendon heal.

If you notice clinical signs of a pulled muscle in your dog, such as limping or reluctance to move, it is essential to seek veterinary care promptly. The diagnosis process may involve ruling out other conditions like myopathy or tendon injuries. Treatment options may include massage therapy and other forms of physical therapy to help your dog recover.

Let’s dive into what exactly a pulled muscle is and how it affects our furry animal friends! Massage can be a helpful treatment for this type of myopathy, reducing swelling and promoting healing.

Symptoms of Pulled Muscles in Dogs

Dogs are active animals that love to run, jump, and play. Unfortunately, all this activity can sometimes lead to injuries such as pulled muscles and tears. A pulled muscle is a common injury in dogs, particularly those that engage in high-impact activities like agility training or hunting. The symptoms of a pulled muscle can vary depending on the severity of the injury and the location of the affected area, including swelling. To alleviate the pain, it is recommended to use an ice pack.

Limping or Favoring a Limb

One of the most obvious signs that your dog has pulled a muscle or experienced tears is limping or favoring a limb. Your dog may hold their leg up off the ground or limp when they walk. They may also avoid putting weight on the affected limb altogether.

Decreased Activity or Reluctance to Move

Another symptom of a pulled muscle in dogs is decreased activity or reluctance to move. If your dog suddenly becomes less interested in playing, going for walks, or running around outside, it could be an indication that they’re experiencing pain from tears in their muscle fibers.

Swelling or Bruising in the Affected Area

Swelling, bruising, and tears are also common symptoms of a pulled muscle in dogs. You may notice swelling around the affected area, which could be accompanied by redness and warmth to the touch. In some cases, you might even see tears on your dog’s skin.

Vocalization or Signs of Pain When Touched

Dogs are stoic animals that often hide their pain well. However, if your pet has pulled a muscle or suffered a tear, you may notice signs of discomfort when you touch them near the affected area. They may yelp, whimper, growl or show other signs of pain.

If you suspect your dog has pulled a muscle or torn it based on these symptoms, it’s essential to take them to see their veterinarian as soon as possible for proper diagnosis and treatment options.

Causes of Pulled Muscles in Dogs

Pulled muscles, also known as muscle tears, are a common injury in dogs that can be caused by various factors. Understanding the causes of pulled muscles or tears in dogs can help pet owners take preventive measures to protect their furry friends from such injuries.

Overexertion during exercise or playtime can cause pulled muscles in dogs.

One of the most common causes of pulled muscles or tears in dogs is overexertion during exercise or playtime. Dogs that engage in intense physical activities without proper warm-up and cool-down routines are at risk of developing pulled muscles or tears. This is especially true for high-energy breeds like Border Collies, Jack Russell Terriers, and Australian Shepherds that require plenty of exercise to burn off excess energy.

Pet owners should ensure that their dogs get enough rest between activities to prevent muscle strains, tears, or injury, and avoid pushing them beyond their limits. If your dog shows signs of fatigue or discomfort during exercise, it’s best to stop immediately and let them rest.

Sudden movements or changes in direction can also lead to pulled muscles in dogs.

Dogs that make sudden movements or changes in direction while running or playing are also at risk of developing pulled muscles. This is because these abrupt actions put a lot of strain on the dog’s muscles, which may result in tears or strains.

Pet owners should supervise their pets during playtime and avoid letting them engage in rough play with other dogs to prevent muscle injuries and tears. Training your dog to respond to basic commands like “stop” or “slow down” can also help prevent sudden movements that may cause tears.

Certain breeds and older dogs may be more prone to pulled muscles due to their physical characteristics and age.

Some dog breeds are more prone to muscle injuries such as tears than others due to their physical characteristics. For example, brachycephalic breeds like Pugs and Bulldogs have shorter legs, which puts more stress on their joints and makes them more susceptible to muscle tears. Similarly, older dogs may be more prone to muscle tears due to age-related muscle weakness and stiffness.

Pet owners should be aware of their dog’s breed and age-related vulnerabilities, including tear injuries, and take appropriate preventive measures. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, and supplements like glucosamine can help keep older dogs’ muscles healthy and reduce the risk of tear injury.

Diagnosing Pulled Muscles in Dogs

When a dog experiences a pulled muscle or tear, it can be difficult to identify the cause of their discomfort. However, with proper diagnosis and treatment, dogs can recover from this painful condition.

Physical Exam

The first step in diagnosing a pulled muscle or tear in a dog is through a physical examination by a veterinarian. During the exam, the vet will look for signs of pain or discomfort and may use palpation to identify areas of soreness, swelling, or tearing. They will also check for any changes in gait or movement that could indicate an injury.

Imaging Tests

In some cases, imaging tests such as X-rays or ultrasounds may be used to confirm the diagnosis of a pulled muscle or tear. These tests can help identify any damage to the muscles or surrounding tissues and help determine the extent of the injury.

X-rays are typically used to evaluate bones and joints and may be useful if there is concern about an underlying fracture or other bone-related issue. Ultrasound uses sound waves to create images of internal structures and is often used to evaluate soft tissue injuries like muscle tears.

Rest and Physical Therapy

Once diagnosed with a pulled muscle or tear, rest is essential for your dog’s recovery. This means limiting activity levels and avoiding activities that could further aggravate the injury.

Physical therapy can also be helpful in treating pulled muscles in dogs. A veterinary rehabilitation specialist can work with you and your dog on exercises designed to improve range of motion, strength, flexibility, balance, coordination, and endurance while minimizing pain.

Treatment Options for Pulled Muscles in Dogs

When our furry friends experience pain, it can be tough to see them suffer. One common injury that dogs may experience is a pulled muscle. A pulled muscle occurs when the fibers of a muscle are stretched too far or torn due to excessive use, overexertion, or sudden movements. Fortunately, there are various treatment options available to help alleviate your dog’s discomfort and aid in their recovery.


One of the most important things you can do for your dog when they have a pulled muscle is to provide them with plenty of rest. This means limiting their physical activity and preventing them from engaging in activities that could cause further damage to the affected area.

  • Encourage your dog with muscle tears, strains, or injury to rest by providing them with a comfortable spot to lie down.
  • Limit their exercise and playtime until they have fully recovered from muscle strains or tears.
  • Avoid any activities that require jumping or running.


In some cases, medication may be necessary to help manage your dog’s pain and inflammation caused by a pulled muscle. Your veterinarian may prescribe:

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as carprofen or meloxicam can be used to treat muscle tears.
  • Pain relievers like tramadol
  • Muscle relaxants such as methocarbamol

It’s important to follow your veterinarian’s instructions when administering medication as dosages will vary depending on the size and weight of your dog. This is especially crucial when treating muscle tears.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can be an effective way to help improve range of motion and prevent future injuries in dogs who have experienced a pulled muscle. Your veterinarian may recommend working with a veterinary physical therapist who can develop an individualized plan based on your dog’s specific needs.

Some common physical therapy techniques used for dogs include:

  • Stretching exercises: These exercises can help prevent muscle tear and improve flexibility and range of motion.
  • Massage: Massaging the affected area of a muscle tear can help increase blood flow and promote healing.
  • Hydrotherapy: This involves using water to help reduce pain and inflammation while increasing strength and mobility.


In severe cases where a pulled muscle has resulted in significant damage, surgery may be necessary. Surgery can help repair the damaged muscle fibers and promote healing.

If your dog requires surgery, it’s important to follow your veterinarian’s post-operative care instructions carefully. This may include providing your dog with medication, restricting their activity level, and attending follow-up appointments.

Helping a Dog Heal from a Pulled Muscle: Tips and Guidance

If your furry friend is limping or showing signs of discomfort, they might have pulled a muscle. This can happen when dogs overexert themselves during physical activity or engage in sudden movements. While this injury can be painful, it’s not usually serious and can heal with proper care. Here are some tips and guidance on how to help your dog recover from a pulled muscle.

Rest is Key

Rest is essential for helping your dog heal from a pulled muscle. Limit their physical activity for at least two to three days after the injury occurs. During this time, avoid walks, runs, or any other activities that could strain the affected area. Instead, encourage them to rest and relax.

Consult with Your Veterinarian

If you suspect that your dog has pulled a muscle, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian. They will examine your pet and determine the severity of the injury. Depending on the extent of the damage, they may recommend physical therapy or light therapy as part of their recovery plan.

Physical therapy involves exercises that help improve mobility and flexibility while reducing pain in the injured area. Light therapy uses low-level lasers to stimulate healing in damaged tissues.

Engage Your Pet in Light Games and Activities at Home

As your dog begins to recover from their injury, you can gradually increase their activity level by engaging them in light games and activities at home. This will help them regain strength in the injured area without putting too much stress on it.

Some examples of light games include hide-and-seek or playing fetch with soft toys instead of hard ones. You can also try practicing simple obedience commands like “sit” or “stay” to keep them mentally stimulated while they recover.

Give Them Time to Heal

It’s important to remember that every dog heals differently from an injury like a pulled muscle. Some may take longer than others to recover fully. So, be patient and give your pet the time they need to heal.

During this time, make sure they have a comfortable place to rest and avoid any activities that could cause further injury. You can also try using heat or cold therapy to help reduce inflammation and ease pain.

Pack on the Love and Attention

While your dog is recovering from their pulled muscle, it’s important to give them plenty of love and attention. Spend some extra time cuddling with them or playing gentle games that don’t involve too much movement.

You can also try giving them treats or toys that are designed to keep them occupied while they rest. This will help keep their spirits up and prevent boredom during their recovery period.

Warning Signs that a Dog May Have Pulled a Muscle

Dogs are active animals, and they love to run, jump, and play. However, just like humans, dogs can suffer from muscle injuries such as pulled muscles. A pulled muscle is a common injury in dogs that occurs when the muscle or tendon is overstretched or torn.

Limping or favoring a limb

One of the most common signs that your dog has pulled a muscle is limping or favoring one limb over another. You may notice your dog holding its leg up while walking or running. Your dog may also be reluctant to put weight on the affected limb.

Swelling or bruising around the affected area

Another sign of a pulled muscle in dogs is swelling or bruising around the affected area. You may notice that the area around your dog’s leg or shoulder is swollen and tender to the touch. Bruising may also occur due to bleeding under the skin.

Pain or discomfort when touched or moved

If your dog has pulled a muscle, it may experience pain or discomfort when touched or moved. You might notice your dog flinching when you try to touch its leg or shoulder. Your dog may also yelp when you try to move it.

Clinical signs such as myopathy and decreased range of motion

In some cases, dogs with pulled muscles may exhibit clinical signs such as myopathy and decreased range of motion. Myopathy refers to weakness in the muscles, which can cause difficulty standing up and walking properly. Decreased range of motion means that your dog’s movement will be limited due to pain and stiffness.

Other possible signs of pulled muscles in dogs

There are other possible signs of pulled muscles in dogs that you should look out for:

  • Lethargy: If your dog seems tired all the time, it may be a sign of a muscle injury.
  • Loss of appetite: Dogs with pulled muscles may lose their appetite due to pain and discomfort.
  • Shaking or trembling: Your dog may shake or tremble due to pain and discomfort caused by a pulled muscle.

Caring for Your Dog’s Pulled Muscles

In conclusion, pulled muscles in dogs can be painful and uncomfortable. It is important to recognize the symptoms, causes, and warning signs of a pulled muscle in your dog. If you suspect that your dog has a pulled muscle, it is crucial to seek veterinary care for proper diagnosis and treatment.

To care for your dog’s pulled muscles, follow the advice of your veterinarian regarding treatment options such as rest, medication, physical therapy or surgery if necessary. Providing a comfortable environment for your dog during recovery can help them heal faster.

Remember to pay attention to your dog’s behavior and movements after they have recovered from their injury. Dogs who have had a pulled muscle are more susceptible to future injuries.


1. Can I give my dog pain medication for their pulled muscle?

Yes, but only under the guidance of a veterinarian. Some human medications can be toxic to dogs and cause serious harm.

2. How long does it take for a pulled muscle in a dog to heal?

The healing time varies depending on the severity of the injury and the type of treatment used. In most cases, it takes several weeks or months for complete recovery.

3. Can I still exercise my dog while they are recovering from a pulled muscle?

No, it is important to restrict activity during recovery to avoid further injury or delay healing.

4. What are some signs that my dog may have re-injured their previously pulled muscle?

Limping or favoring one leg over another could indicate re-injury. Consult with your veterinarian immediately if you notice any changes in their behavior or movement patterns.

5. How can I prevent my dog from getting another pulled muscle in the future?

Regular exercise and stretching routines can help keep your dog’s muscles strong and flexible which can reduce the risk of future injuries. Avoiding activities that are too strenuous for your dog’s fitness level can also help prevent pulled muscles.