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Groin Pain in Dogs

Groin injuries and groin pain in dogs are usually based in the iliopsoas muscle group, which is a combination of the psoas major and the iliacus muscles. These muscles work to move the pelvic limb forward. The femoral nerve, one of the major nerves of the leg, also runs in the middle of the iliacus and the psoas muscles. Injuries and strains to the groin muscles are often concurrent with other orthopedic problems.

Common Symptoms:

  • Hind limb lameness
  • Limping
  • Favoring one limb
  • Swelling around the affected area
  • Reluctance to jump and climb stairs
  • Panting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Vocalization of pain
  • Behavioral changes

Causes of Groin Pain

Dermatitis is the irritation of the skin often caused by mites, mange, allergies, seborrhea, fissures, or injury. This can result in intense itching, irritation, and pain for the affected dog. An infection can even occur if the dog has itched enough to break skin leading to the bacteria from their nails getting into the wound. Clinical signs you want to look out for include hot spots, hair loss, gastrointestinal discomfort, flatulence, red and raised skin, inflammation, greasy skin, self-mutilation from itching, and diarrhea. Dogs who are affected may also be sneezing, have watery eyes, scratch at the affected area, and have compulsive licking. While any dog can get dermatitis, there are certain breeds that are more prone to this condition including bulldogs, cocker spaniels, old english sheepdogs, poodles, golden retrievers, most terriers, dalmations, and irish setters. These breeds should be examined more often for the symptoms. If this goes untreated, there are risks of dermatitis spreading to other parts of the body, developing bacterial infections or yeast infections, and possibly even deafness in the case of chronic ear infections. The most common areas this can occur are the neck, groin, armpits, paws, and ears. To diagnose, a vet will take into consideration the symptoms the dog has presented and may run an intradermal allergy testing or a blood test to find the exact cause. Treatment varies per the cause.

Treatment: 

  • Avoidance and prevention of contact from allergins. 
  • Immunotherapy in the form of a hypo-sensitizing injection.
  • Bathing in a soothing medicated foam shampoo.
  • Implement a hypoallergenic diet if the allergen is food.

Iliopsoas muscle tears commonly happen when fetching a tennis ball or through extensive stretching (participating in agility training). Anatomically, the psoas muscle attaches along the underside of the backbones, and the iliacus attaches on the inner side of the pelvis. These two muscles join and form a tendon that attaches onto the femur. It’s function is to externally rotate and flex the hip joint. When an injury occurs at or near the muscle-tendon junction, many dogs experience pain when stretching the hip as well as lameness. Most dogs get injured through roughhousing with other pets, jumping from elevated surfaces, strenuous training, and slipping into a splay-legged position. Clinical exams help diagnose an Iliopsoas strain as well as ultrasounds, MRIs, and CT scans. 

 

Treatment:

  • Muscle relaxant medications.
  • NSAIDs.
  • Applying a cold compress to the groin.
  • Rehabilitation in the form of heat therapy, deep penetrating ultrasound, cold laser therapy, and massage.

Inguinal hernias are hernias that affect the inguinal canal in both male and female dogs. The inguinal canal is an opening of the muscle wall in a dog’s groin that allows passage of blood vessels and spermatic cord to pass through to the testes in a male and the vaginal process to pass through a female. When a hernia occurs, the canal widens, making way for abdominal contents to bulge/spill out of the opening. Causes of a inguinal canal are mostly congenital (present at birth) or acquired through physical trauma, pregnancy, or obesity. Symptoms include a visible protrusion (appears as swelling on one or both sides of a dog’s groin), noticeable pain, bloody urine, frequent urination, malaise, vomiting, warmth at the site, or lack of appetite. Hernias can present themselves as reducible (abdominal lining or fat that protrudes) or irreducible ( abdominal organs are protruding). With ridicule hernias, vets can manually push the protrusion in while irreducible hernias can cause severe trauma to the affected organs. Ultrasounds and X-rays are conducted to define any organ entrapment in irreducible hernias. 

Treatment: 

  • Surgery for irreducible hernias along with removal of any scar tissue along the site that may have formed.

Insect bites in pets are a common problem and while can sometimes be harmless, certain insects can cause serious health complications and pain. It’s important to note the three categories of insects that sting: Vespidae (yellow jackets, and wasps, hornets), Formicidae (i.e. fire ants), and Apidae (i.e. honeybees, African killer bees). While it can take 20 stings from one of these to be lethal in mammals, it can happen quickly if a pet disturbs a hive or colony. Clinical signs that your dog has been bit or stung by an insect include swelling and redness at the site of the bite, hives, swollen face or muzzle, localized pain at the site of the bite (can vary from mild to severe), puncture wound, and itchiness. Dogs experiencing anaphylaxis may have diarrhea, vomiting, weakness, seizures, respiratory distress, cardiovascular arrest, and collapsing. Initial diagnosis is based on the clinical signs being presented. Blood samples might also be taken to help determine an allergic reaction.

Treatment:

  • Treatment is based on type of bite, how many, and severity of clinical signs.
  • Removal of stinger or other insect parts (if applicable).
  • Antihistamines and anti-inflammatory agents such as corticosteroids.
  • Treatment for anaphylactic shock includes supportive measures such as intravenous fluids, corticosteroids, oxygen therapy, and epinephrine.

Leukemia is a form of cancer that affects the increase of white blood cells in both the bloodstream and bone marrow. Acute leukemia is malignant while chronic leukemia progresses slowly over time. There are two types of leukemia: lymphocytic and myelogenous leukemia. Lymphocytic leukemia is caused by cancerous cells in the lymph nodes and myelogenous leukemia is due to cancerous cells in the bone marrow. Symptoms vary depending on the type and condition of leukemia with acute leukemia developing and worsening quickly, usually affecting older dogs over the age of six. Acute symptoms include: pale gums, lethargy, fever, vomiting, dehydration, bruising or bleeding easily, pale tongue, lack of appetite, delayed healing or recurring infections, irregular breathing, behavior changes, and chronic diarrhea. Chronic leukemia symptoms are lethargy, anemia, bruising/bleeding easily, swelling of the lymph nodes, and loss of appetite. While there is no direct cause, vets believe spontaneous mutation in the bone marrow is largely the inhibitor. Leukemia is incurable but various treatments can be used to increase the quality of life and length of life.

Treatments:

  • Chemotherapy.
  • Various supplements.
  • Dietary Changes.
  • Alternative treatments to strengthen the immune system.

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an immune-mediated disease in which a dog’s immune system begins to attack its own tissue. Essentially, the dog’s body produces antibodies to antigens that are found in its body systems and tissues. Some breeds have a greater predisposition to SLE such as medium to large dogs that are over five years of age. This includes the Shetland sheepdog, Old English sheepdog, Beagle, German shepherd, Irish setter, Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever, Poodle, Collie, and Afghan hound. Signs of SLE can peak and slow over a period of time, with signs increasing as the disease progresses. These include lameness that moves from limb to limb, lethargy, fever, enlarged spleen, enlarged lymph nodes, ulcers at mucocutaneous joints (lips), muscle pain (or atrophy), skin abnormalities (such as thinning or loss of hair, ulcers, redness). Factors such as genetic, physiologic, and environmental elements can increase SLE development. 

Treatment: 

  • Dependent on which body system is affected:
    • Kidneys: modified prescription diet.
    • Joints: limited and restricted activity.