Anyone who has ever had sore muscles after an intense physical activity, such as sport, will know only too well the sometimes enormous pain and the possible restrictions in movement. But what about our beloved dogs? Can a dog get a sore muscle and if so, how does it manifest itself? How can the symptoms be alleviated and is there anything that can be done to prevent sore muscles in dogs?
Can a dog have sore muscles?
Opinions are divided on the question of whether or not dogs can get sore muscles. Some experts are of the opinion that sore muscles are foreign to man’s best friend. Others assume that dogs can suffer from sore muscles to the same extent as we humans. This is because in dogs, the so-called lactic acid can build up in the muscle cells during excessive exertion, leading to the typical muscle soreness symptoms. Assuming it is not muscle soreness in the classic sense, it is definitely overstraining of the muscles. Our beloved furry friends can also have muscular complaints after too much physical exertion.
When can a sore muscle occur?
If the dog’s body is put under more strain than normal, this can have consequences. On a day, he romps around more than usual with his four-legged friends and runs back and forth like crazy. Your pet learns new exercises or movements that he is not used to. For example, he accompanies you on a long hiking tour for the first time.
Do you see a change in your pet the next day? Does he limp the next day? Is he reluctant to be touched? Does he not like to sit down or has a harder time getting up? Will he walk with you the next day just as happily and unencumbered?
If your darling shows the following symptoms after unaccustomed physical activity, it may be that his muscles have been overworked and he simply has “muscle soreness”.
What signs indicate that the muscles have been overworked?
A “sore muscle in a dog” can manifest itself as follows:
- The dog is tired.
- He does not want to move around or go for a long walk.
- Certain touches hurt him.
- He avoids certain exercises, such as “sit”.
- He is in pain.
- His movements are quite stiff.
- He limps.
Normally, the symptoms of muscular strain are over in 2 days. If it takes longer or the pain increases, then go to a veterinary clinic. In this case, other causes may be behind it.
What helps the dog against sore muscles?
If your dog shows the symptoms listed above after intense physical activity, here’s what you can do to help him:
- Rest, rest, rest!
- Heat (for example an infrared lamp) can help circulation (be careful not to hold it too close to the dog and allow the dog to move away).
- Careful massages help to relax the muscles.
- Slow walks, no further exertion.
Tip: Choose exercises that are adapted to your dog. Not every breed is suitable for long walks and not every dog likes to do dog sports. So base the activity on what your dog enjoys. In the meantime, always keep an eye on your pet. If he shows signs of exhaustion, stop in time. You should also always give your dog enough water.
How do you prevent sore muscles in dogs?
It is better to take preventive measures than to treat the symptoms:
- Always warm up the dog before exercising. To do this, the dog can slowly start trotting alongside you from a walk. After about ten minutes of warming up, you can start the actual exercise.
- Slowly get used to the load and increase the performance. First do short sessions and then slowly increase the time and effort.
- The “cool down” after exercise is also important. After an effort, the dog should not stop abruptly. Let him walk next to you again for about ten minutes (walk or trot) to come down. Light stretching exercises can also be incorporated.
Sore muscles can be a pretty unpleasant thing, and not just for us humans. In summary, whether or not a dog has sore muscles in the classic sense, over-exerting or overloading the muscles is not good. The symptoms are similar to those in humans, as are the treatment options. Always remember, prevention before symptom control!