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What is an Achilles Tendon Injury?

What is an Achilles Tendon Injury?

Achilles Tendon injuries occur in your dog’s back legs and can make your dog limp, unable to weight-bear or completely change the angle of your dog’s back leg, often called a ‘dropped’ hock. A dropped hock is a complete Achilles Tendon rupture, causing your dog to walk flat-footed. When this happens, it is important that you give your dog as much as possible.

Best Achilles Tendon Braces

Dog Achilles Tendon Injury

An Achilles Tendon Injury

The Achilles tendon (or the common calcaneal tendon) is a large band of fibrous tissue, that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone on your dog’s hind leg, it involves five different muscles. It plays a crucial role in allowing the extension of the hind leg, facilitating running, jumping and other every day activities of your dog. Tendon injuries in dogs can range from mild strains to complete tears.

Signs and symptoms of an Achilles tendon injury

Common symptoms of an Achilles tendon injury in dogs are:

  • Limping on the affected leg or reluctance to put weight on the leg
  • A Crab claw stance (dogs foot become ‘claw’-like with the toes curled down)
  • A flat-footed stance or plantigrade (walking with a ‘dropped’ hock)
  • Swelling and tenderness around the tendon area
  • Reduced range of motion in the affected leg

What causes Achilles injuries in dogs?

Achilles tendon injuries in dogs can occur due to various reasons, including trauma, such as sudden twists or falls, overexertion, repetitive stress or degeneration over time. Sometimes classed/divided into ‘traumatic’ or ‘atraumatic’ Achilles injuries. Breeds that are more prone to these types of injuries include larger or more active breeds.

What age does a dog get an Achilles Tendon Injury?

Any age of dog can sustain an Achilles tendon injury however younger dogs are more likely to sustain traumatic tendon injuries from things such as severe stretching/pulling, repetitive strain, lacerations, overexertion etc. In contrast older dogs are more likely to have atraumatic Achilles tendon injuries from chronic and degenerative causes. Some breeds of dogs are more prone to this (Labradors, Retrievers, Dobermans).

Help Around the House?

Try and restrict the amount of activity your dog is doing, encouraging them to rest. If you have a young and active dog which find this difficult, you can try something such as a snuffle mat, which can help to mentally stimulate them while keeping them less mobile.

Applying an appropriate brace to help support your dog’s joint. Whether your dog has surgery or can be treated conservatively, recovery can be very slow, sometimes taking years, so often a supportive brace needs to be applied for long periods. Try and restrict activities such as going up or down the stairs or jumping on or off furniture.

Treatment for Achilles Tendon Injuries

Treatment for Achilles tendon injuries in dogs will depend on the severity of the injury. In some cases, conservative management may be all that is needed. This involves rest, restricted activity, pain medication and also the use of a splint or brace to help support the leg and joint.

More severe cases, such as complete tendon tears, may require surgical intervention. Surgery aims to repair or reconstruct the damaged tendon to restore function and stability. Post-surgical rehabilitation, which can involve wearing a brace, which can aid in the healing process, providing support and help to regain strength and mobility.

If you suspect that your dog has injured their Achilles tendon, it's essential to consult a vet who can assess the extent of the injury, and make a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

How to Help Your Dogs Achilles Tendon Injury

Q&As from Zoomadog Customers

Q: "Hello, my dog is 13yrs old and too old for an operation although is in very good health otherwise however he has a fully ruptured Achilles tendon and his back hock is flat on the ground when walking. Would the Walkin' Full Dog Leg Splint be suitable? My only concern with the splint, is that my dog is a whippet lurcher with very thin and rather fragile legs!"

A: Yes the Walkin' Full Dog Leg Splint will be great for this. It will support his leg by holding it completely still and motionless, giving the highest level of support. There is also foam that you can buy to pad out the splint, to protect your dog’s thin and fragile legs. Let us know if you need any further assistance or would like guidance with sizing.

Q: "I have looked at your website and would like to order a leg brace for my ex-racing greyhound. I was wondering if the Maximus PawsUp Knuckling Custom Brace would be best but I am unsure?"

A: I can see that your dog’s hock on his right leg is dropped and he needs support for this. My concern with the Maximus Paws Up is that he might not have enough strength in the hock for the boot to work with and that it might not be the right product.

We have a couple of braces which would help support the hock. There is the Balto Hock which has splints and will help support the joint. It can be worn for short periods of time but wouldn't be strong enough for a lot of use where a dog is running or walking on very hard surfaces, such as concrete.

Another support for dogs that are able to be more active is the Therapaw Tarso Flex X Wrap. This is a strong neoprene wrap and can be worn for all activities and can also be worn for longer periods of time than the Balto Hock splint.

We have various different boots which can provide protection to the paws if needed but one of the best boots for Greyhounds is the Hunnyboots as they are specifically designed for their hare feet.

A: "Would the Full Dog Splint suitable for a ruptured Achilles tendon?"

Q: Yes the Full Dog Splint will help with a ruptured Achilles tendon. It's also good to build up the amount of time that a splint is worn. Begin with 10 minutes a few times a day to let them become used to it and to avoid rubbing.

Have questions about your dog and their Achilles Tendon?

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