The Complete Guide On How To Tell If Your Dog Has Pulled A Muscle
Stacy Reed
Author: Stacy Reed
Stacy is a freelance writer who has always shared her life with dogs, especially German Shepherds.
Published date: September 30, 2021
Updated date: October 20, 2021
This article was reviewed and fact checked If you have found any errors, please contact us!

The Complete Guide On How To Tell If Your Dog Has Pulled A Muscle

If you’ve ever pulled a muscle before, then you know how painful it can be. Especially when it is a leg muscle, as this can cause a lot of discomfort and frustration.

Unfortunately, dogs can also pull a muscle, and as they have four legs unlike our two, it can happen rather often and easily.

Think about your dog. They love to run around, play, jump, chase you, run after a ball, you name it.

It is all too easy for a dog to pull a muscle as they can be so energetic and active, that it places a strain on their muscles and joints. This is why dogs can pull a muscle in their legs!


If you think that your dog has pulled a muscle, then read on to spot the warning signs, how to tell if your dog has pulled a muscle, what to do and how long it takes to heal. 

Can Dogs Pull A Muscle?

Yes, just like us, dogs can pull a muscle. Due to their active nature, dogs can pull a muscle in their legs quite easily.

Pulled muscles are often a result of an exercise induced injury, and can happen to dogs that are prone to high energy levels, or those that are very agile and energetic. 

A pulled muscle is simply a muscle strain, overstretch or tearing in the fibers of your muscles, which can happen if you overuse the muscle or put too much pressure or force on it.

Most pulled muscles happen in the legs or back due to active movements. 

Dogs are prone to pulling muscles in their legs when they are jumping, running or leaping around.

However, some dogs can pull and strain muscles if they are overweight, or do not exercise regularly, as this puts a strain on their bodies. 

How Do I Know If My Dog Pulled A Muscle?

There are a few signs that you may notice when a dog pulls a muscle. The most common and notable of these is limping.

Depending on the severity of the injury, your dog may limp a little bit for a while, whereas others may become lame due to the pain they are in. 


It is important that you pay close attention to your dog, and take a look at their behavior, body language and mobility to see if there are any changes or signs that your dog is in pain and needs medication. 

If a dog has pulled its muscle, it will most likely limp on that leg, and will not want to put any weight on it to avoid pain or strain.

If your dog is not limping, this does not mean that they have not pulled a muscle, as they may instead become less mobile than normal, or walk more slowly and avoid trying to run or climb the stairs.

Other dogs will let you know that they are in pain by whining or whimpering when you touch the affected muscle. They may try to growl when you examine them, or try to pull the leg away from you. 

It is vital that you take your dog to the veterinarian for treatment if you think that your dog is in pain, or if they have pulled a muscle. The veterinarian can offer the best course of treatment for your dog. 

What Happens When A Dog Pulls A Muscle?

When your dog pulls a muscle, they may become inactive, or they may refuse food, which is a sign that something is not right.

Trust me, if my German Shepherd refused food one day I would instantly know something was up! 

Dogs can convey that they are not feeling themselves by changing their behavior, or retreating within themselves, uninterested in playing, going for walks or eating.

If this is the case, then take them to the veterinarian. 

The good news is that a pulled muscle is not a serious injury, and should resolve itself in a few weeks with some rest, recovery and recuperation.

However, we do recommend that you take your dog to see a vet, just to rule out any more severe injuries.

In addition, the veterinarian can offer pain medication or anti-inflammatories to make sure that your dog recovers much more quickly. 


How Long Does It Take For A Pulled Muscle To Heal In A Dog?

If your dog has indeed pulled a muscle, then they will need to recover fully. Recovery may involve minimizing exercise for a while until the strain heals, or using ice packs to reduce swelling.

You may also have to use heat packs to decrease any stiffness in the muscle, or even hydrotherapy to heal the muscle.

Most veterinarians will suggest that your dog only does low impact exercise, and you keep them on a leash for walks for the time being, so that they do not run off, jump or chase anything and further damage the muscle.

A pulled muscle in a dog can have a minimum recovery time of about four to six weeks, and it can be a very slow process. 

For most dogs, after the pulled muscle has healed, they can return to their normal lives, however for some working breeds, or sporting dogs, they may not have the same level of ability in that muscle as they did before the injury took place. 


To summarize, dogs can pull a muscle, and this can happen fairly easily as dogs are very active creatures, always jumping around, running and chasing after something!

Whilst a pulled muscle is not a severe injury, it is important that you know how to spot the symptoms, and what to do if your dog does pull or strain a leg muscle. 

Luckily, with advice from a veterinarian, proper treatment and a few weeks of recovery, your dog will be back to its old self in no time! 

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