Does your dog show
signs of a front leg injury?
The radial nerve is the largest nerve
in the front leg of the dog and is
responsible for movement in the
elbow, wrist and toes. This nerve
also provides sensation to the
upper-outside surface of the front
leg and upper surface of the paw.
The radial nerve travels down the underside of
the upper front leg and crosses over the outside
just above the elbow. From this point, the radial
nerve branches into the muscles of the lower
front leg. Dogs with radial nerve paralysis are
unable to use their front leg normally.
Trauma to the animal's front leg, where the
nerve is close to the surface, is a common
cause of paralysis.
Dogs with radial nerve paralysis lose the ability
to use the muscles that extend the front leg
and the affected limb can't bear any weight.
The upper side of the paw often drags on
When muscles lose their nerve connections
they begin to atrophy, or shrink, usually within
five days of the injury. Physical therapy may be
helpful to maintain blood flow in the atrophying
muscles. If the injured nerves begin to re-grow,
the animal may experience abnormal sensations
from the affected limb, and this may lead to selfmutilation
of the limb. If this behavior cannot be
controlled, amputation of the limb may have to
Nerve injuries are very mysterious. It can be
very difficult to predict if function will return
after injury. Therefore it is very important to
determine the extent of the injury. If the sheath
surrounding the nerve fibers is still intact, then
there is a chance that the limb function will
return. In these cases, time and good nursing
care are the best options.