Muscle Cramps In Canines

Two labs sit for a photo in front of the successful bounty of a goose hunt.

Yes, our dogs can experience muscle cramps and for many of the same reasons we do. However, duck dogs tend to be a lot tougher than we are, so they generally don’t go hopping around crying like a baby!

Most often cramps show up after strenuous exercise, typically during or following a nap. The signs usually include refusal to use a limb. When you examine the muscles gently with your fingers, the dog may yelp or even snap (you know how much a muscle cramp can hurt!) You may feel the knotted muscle.

In such cases, dehydration is generally the primary cause, so make sure your dog has plenty to drink during and after strenuous activity. Plain water will do just fine.

To ease the spasm, apply a warmed towel to the cramped area. After a bit, massage gently and slowly stretch the dog’s leg—pretty much the same steps you take to relieve your own charley horses.

As you sense the dog is relaxing and more at ease, snap on the leash and take a slow walk for a reasonable distance.

If your dog experiences muscle spasms often, it’s worth checking out with your veterinarian. Frequent muscle cramps can be a symptom of other, more serious health issues. —Bill Miller