A sprained ankle can occur in dogs as easily as it does in people. This is especially true for older or active dogs. A sprain can be caused by landing on a foot awkwardly, landing hard or being hit by an object causing sudden imbalance. Knowing how to treat a dog's ankle sprain is important to helping your dog heal quickly and properly.
Determine if the injury is an actual sprain. Observe the way your dog walks or stands. If the dog favours the leg, but can still walk on it, it is a sprain. If the dog drags the leg or foot it could be a broken bone. Look for bumps, bruises, red spots, or physical signs of trauma. These could be signs of damaged ligaments or muscles.
Set up an ice pack. Wrap ice cubes in a towel; then wrap the towel around the ankle loosely. Keep the area wrapped for 20 minutes. Keep the dog still during this time. This helps take down the swelling. Repeat six times daily until directed differently by your veterinarian.
Take your dog to a veterinarian. The only true method to ensure proper treatment of a dog's ankle sprain is to have the veterinarian confirm it. If it is a sprain, the doctor may prescribe antibiotics to relieve the pain while the sprain heals. If the sprain is serious, a wrap around the foot is also possible to immobilise the area from further damage.
Keep the dog and the house calm between veterinarian visits. This will be about two weeks time. During this time, keep the dog from getting exited, jumping or leaping over objects. Keep the children, if you have any, away from the dog when playing; also keep the dog from moving too quickly because dogs do not always think before they move suddenly.
Limit activities until the sprain heals. Walk the dog only as long as it takes for them to go to the bathroom. Avoid tug of war or other physical games during this time as this could exacerbate the injury. Keep the dog from jumping up on people, furniture or rough play. Use this time to spend quiet time with the dog as much as possible. Limit the times the dog will need to move up or down stairs because the weight put on the injured ankle for support could cause further injury or delay recovery.
Keep the second appointment with the veterinarian even if the sprain looks healed or the dog acts as though there is no pain. Dogs can hide pain. There could also still be weak muscle or tissue; this is especially true for older dogs. Tell your veterinarian if the sprain has not healed or improved during this time period; this could be a sign of a larger problem.