Lameness in dogs & tendonitis

Written by lori gordon
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Lameness in dogs & tendonitis
Tendons are the tissues that connect muscle to bone. (funny dog puppy playing with toy in mouth running image by Paul Retherford from

Tendinitis is an inflammation of the tendons that causes lameness in dogs. The most common tendons affected are the biceps tendon (front leg) and the supraspinatus tendon (shoulder). It can be difficult to diagnose, but there are several treatment options.

Risk Factors

Medium to large breed dogs, especially those who are very active (i.e., agility dogs, racing dogs and working dogs) are at highest risk for tendinitis.

Lameness in dogs & tendonitis
Racing greyhounds have a higher risk for tendinitis. (Italian greyhounds racing image by Alexander Kosenkov from


Tendinitis can be acute (caused by an injury) or chronic (caused by repeated, high impact activity, especially running and jumping).

Lameness in dogs & tendonitis
Dogs who compete in agility events are in the high risk group. (dog show image by agno_agnus from


Most dogs with tendinitis will present with front leg lameness. It can be constant or intermittant. The leg will be painful and the dog will have limited range of motion. Signs will worsen after exercise.

Lameness in dogs & tendonitis
A dog with tendinitis will be lame on the affected front leg. (dogs image by rufar from


Diagnosis by radiography can be difficult because tendinitis is a soft tissue injury. Other diagnostic tests like ultrasound, arthroscopy and MRI can be more useful.

Lameness in dogs & tendonitis
Soft tissue damage doesn't show up well on radiographs. (x-ray of bones image by Tammy Mobley from

Treatment Options

Treatment for tendinitis might depend on the severity. Medical management including rest for several weeks, cold and heat therapy and anti-inflammatory drugs may be enough for a minor case. Some therapies used for cases that don't respond well to simple medical management include laser therapy, ultrasound, cross fibre massage, magnetic therapy and acupuncture.

Lameness in dogs & tendonitis
A dog with tendinitis may need to be confined to a crate for 4 to 6 weeks. (dog in a cage image by igor kisselev from

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