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Muscle Contracture in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Muscle contracture is a condition in dogs that occurs when the muscle fibers become stiff and rigid. This is often caused by a lack of mobility or exercise and can lead to a variety of discomfort and even pain. Muscle contracture can occur in any muscle group and can be found in both small and large dogs alike. In this article, we will discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for muscle contracture in dogs.

Causes of Muscle Contracture in Dogs

Muscle contracture can be caused by a variety of factors, which include:

1. Lack of Exercise: Dogs that live a sedentary lifestyle or are confined in a small area may experience muscle contracture as a result of decreased activity levels.

2. Trauma: Traumatic injuries such as muscle strains or sprains can lead to muscle contracture.

3. Systemic Diseases: Some systemic diseases such as hypothyroidism, diabetes mellitus, or liver disease may lead to muscle contracture.

4. Neurological Disorders: Certain neurological disorders such as spinal cord injuries or degenerative myelopathy can lead to muscle contracture.

Symptoms of Muscle Contracture in Dogs

The symptoms of muscle contracture in dogs may differ based on the severity and location of the condition. Some common symptoms include:

1. Stiffness: Dogs with muscle contracture often experience stiffness in the affected muscle group.

2. Pain: Dogs may experience pain in the affected muscle group, which may be more pronounced during exercise or movement.

3. Reduced Range of Motion: Muscle contracture may limit a dog`s ability to move or extend the affected limb, resulting in reduced range of motion.

4. Muscle Atrophy: Over time, muscle contracture may lead to muscle atrophy or a decrease in muscle mass.

Treatment of Muscle Contracture in Dogs

Treatment for muscle contracture in dogs often involves a combination of exercise, physical therapy, and medication. Your veterinarian may recommend the following:

1. Exercise: Regular exercise can help to prevent muscle contracture and promote muscle flexibility. Conditioning exercises can also help to increase a dog`s range of motion.

2. Physical Therapy: Physical therapy can help to reduce muscle stiffness and pain, and improve a dog`s range of motion. Massage, stretching, and joint mobilization techniques can all be used to treat muscle contracture.

3. Medications: Pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation in the affected muscle group.

4. Surgery: In severe cases, surgery may be required to release the affected muscle group and promote healing.


Muscle contracture can be a painful and debilitating condition for dogs. However, with proper diagnosis and treatment, dogs with muscle contracture can go on to live happy and healthy lives. If you suspect that your dog may be suffering from this condition, it is important to consult with your veterinarian immediately. By working together, you can develop a customized treatment plan that addresses your dog`s individual needs and promotes long-term healing.