At VRCC, summer offers up a season of different injuries for the emergency and surgical veterinarians to evaluate. June, July and August are prime time for outdoor activities with man’s best friend and there are five main activities that veterinarians at VRCC see that may cause painful shoulder injuries in your dog.

In canines, the shoulder joint is a ball and socket and one of the most important to your pet and its good health. The joints are jam-packed with bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles, and are also one of the most challenging for veterinarians to work on and repair.

Here are the top 5 shoulder injuries in dogs this summer:

  1. Hiking on steep inclines. We all love to climb Fourteeners in Colorado, and so do our dogs!  However, getting there isn’t always easy and uneven surfaces can be tough on your dog’s shoulder.  These hikes may cause muscle strain and sprains so be sure to check in with your dog often on hikes and rest when needed!
  2. Vigorous and long running. The semi-arid, dry climate in Colorado is a dream for distance runners, but can be tough on your dog’s joints. During very vigorous or long duration running, the muscles can become very sensitive to “over doing it” and the muscle fibers get torn and stretched.  Be sure to warm up a bit before going on long runs with your K9 companion – it will be good for you and your pooch!
  3. Obstacle courses/dog competitions. This is the season for obstacle course and dog pool jumping competitions.  While it is very good training for dogs and the list of benefits is quite large, these types of repetitive activities can also cause shoulder instability, which is a common problem in dogs. The primary cause is chronic, repetitive activity or overuse and these activities place a high stress on their shoulder joints.
  4. Dogs riding in the back of pickups.  This type of activity is seen not just in rural areas, but on metro area highways and side streets as well.  While this is not illegal in Colorado, it is dangerous. A fall from heights off the back of the flatbed or being thrown out of the vehicle can cause shoulder dislocations, fractures and twisting injuries.  We always recommend having your dog ride in the cab of your truck, or purchasing a kennel to strap in the bed.
  5. Weekend Warrior Syndrome: People do it all the time and it’s no different for pets! A pickup game of basketball resulting in a torn Achilles tendon or a back pulled out after a rare game of golf are what happen to people. Dogs are no different if they aren’t conditioned to a level of activity that their owner suddenly decides on doing, they can also be injured.  You and your dog need to build up stamina in activities, which is a fun activity together all on it’s own!

Here are some symptoms everyone should be aware of that may indicate a shoulder injury:

  • Lameness
  • Refusal to turn a specific direction
  • Shorter gait (smaller steps)
  • Inability to put shoulder in normal position

Finally, it’s important to note that diagnosis of shoulder injuries can be challenging. If your family veterinarian suspects that your dog may have a shoulder injury, come visit the surgery specialists at VRCC to have your dog’s injury assessed and discuss options.

Here’s to a fun, activity-filled, and SAFE summer with your furry companions!