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Swollen ankle on dog.

Species: Dog
Breed: Chocolate Lab
Age: 2-5 years
I have a 3 year old chocolate lab. He is very active. His right hind leg has a swollen "ankle." I've noticed this before but it didn't seem to bother him. He would walk on it just fine. Now he's exercising (plays fetch) more often, up to twice a day. Today, I noticed he's limping. I've touched the "ankle" and he didn't give any indication of pain. Like I mentioned before, one "ankle" has always seemed larger than the other but he hasn't limped on it before. What might this be?


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

Hi Jorge. Thanks so much for your question!

It sounds like the joint you are describing is the hock joint. It's not terribly common to have swelling in this joint. There are a few possible reasons for it and often it can be hard to determine what the cause is.

In a young dog we worry about some kind of injury. It could be a sprain. If so, this usually resolves within a few weeks. However, it could be a severe ligament sprain which sometimes needs surgery.

Young labs can sometimes be prone to a condition called Osteochondrosis Dessicans (OCD) in which a chip of cartilage breaks off inside of the joint. This is more common in labs under 2, but still possible. OCD will occasionally get better on its own but often needs surgery.

It is also possible that there is an infection in the joint. It could be a bacterial or a fungal infection. These need prescription meds prescribed by the vet. Occasionally they need an injection into the joint in order to heal.

While we do sometimes see tumors affecting the joint these are not at all common in a dog this young.

If this were my case I would likely do some xrays to see if we can see evidence of a sprain or even a tiny fracture. If not, I would likely do a joint tap to look for infection.

While some sprains and strains can heal on their own, if this has been going on for a while a vet visit is a good idea. Until then, you can try applying an ice pack several times per day and limit his activity as much as possible.

I hope he does ok! If you have more concerns, just hit reply.

Dr. Marie.


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.