Call Us


Have a Question?

Achilles Tendinosos Rehab with Dog Treadmill

DogTread Treadmill work rounds out Jazz’s Canine Rehabilitation Plan


Jazz recently injured her Achilles Tendon

Jazz is a “full-speed ahead” 7 ½ year old lab. She is an amazing pheasant retriever and loves to hike, run, swim and play ‘chuck-it’. When she was about a year old she tore her Cranial Cruciate ligaments in both legs and had bilateral TPLO. A few weeks ago, she came up lame after playing hard. Her right hind hock was swollen and tender. Her diagnosis? Achilles tendon injury.

 What is the Canine Achilles?


You may have heard of Achilles Tendon also called the Common Calcaneal Tendon (CCT) or the Gastrocnemius Tendon. This tendon is the convergence of 3 distinct musculotendinous units at the calcaneus (the back point of the hock) :the gastrocnemius tendon (GT), the superficial digital flexor tendon (SDFT), and the common tendons of the biceps femoris, gracilis, and semitendinosus muscles. The gastrocnemius muscle originates as both lateral and medial heads on the caudal aspect of the lateral and medial femoral condyles, then spans the stifle joint (canine knee) before inserting on the calcaneus. The gastrocnemius tendon is the largest and most powerful extensor of the hock joint. The Achilles Tendon acts as the major extensor of the hock.

 Do Humans have an Achilles Tendon?

Yes. You’ve probably heard the term “Achilles Heel”. Over 230,000 humans experience injuries of the Achilles tendon per year in the U.S. alone. The undue strains are caused by a variety of factors, including: tightness or weakness of the leg, knee, hip, or back; high or low arches; uneven leg lengths; alternating between high (2”) heels and exercise shoes; and/or sudden (rather than gradual) increases in training, such as running faster, further, or up steeper hills.

How does a dog injure their Achilles tendon?

Many types of injuries can occur in the Achilles’ tendon. The most common Achilles tendon injuries are Achilles tendinosis (also known as Achilles tendinopathy) and Achilles tendon rupture.

The most common causes of Achilles injuries:

  • traumatic (lacerations, blunt force trauma, severe stretching/pulling)
  • atraumatic (chronic and degenerative in nature)

Any dog (or cat) can injure the Achilles’ tendon by external trauma (for example, smooth or barbed wire fence lacerations, getting kicked by a cow or horse, chain link fence climbing with entangling the hind foot into one of the holes and falling, or a multitude of other mishaps.

Degenerative cases of CCT rupture have not been well-described. This may be due to long-term “wear and tear” or perhaps genetic. In humans, use of fluoroquinolones or chronic use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs has been implicated. In dogs, an association with obesity, diabetes, or Cushing’s disease has been noted.

 Are there canine breeds prone to chronic Achilles problems?

Atraumatic injuries can be seen in any breed of dog, but Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds and Doberman Pinschers are overrepresented. Usually Achilles Tendon injuries occur in dogs 5+ years of age. Jazz fits right in this category!

 How is an Achilles injury diagnosed?

Signs vary from lameness with swelling around the Achilles to walking flat-footed (with complete rupture). Physical exam, radiographs, ultrasound and MRI are used to diagnose this serious condition.

 How is a Canine Achilles injury treated?

Complete rupture of the Achilles is a veterinary emergency situation requiring immediate care and surgery. Sprains/strains are usually treated with rest and rehabilitation. Return to full function usually has a good prognosis.

 What about Jazz?

IMG_6124Jazz rested for about 8 weeks with leash walking only – most done inside on the DogTread treadmill. Her chuck-it days of wildly chasing the tennis ball, flipping and maybe standing on her head then rushing back to drop the ball for her next throw are over. During her restricted activity time, the area was iced several times/day and she received twice weekly acupuncture treatments to reduce inflammation. Treadmill walking has been gradually increased; now she is walking for 20 minutes/ twice a day.


With her bilateral stifle conditions, Jazz prefers to walk with most of her weight on her forelimbs. The recent Achilles injury has caused her to prefer laying down rto standing. When she does sit, she has trouble sitting square.




What’s next?

Jazz will keep working on the dog treadmill as her gait can be monitored while treading rather than walking outside. I can encourage her to raise her head to increase weight bearing on her hind leg while she treads; this is impossible to do while leash walking.

She will be starting in with some floor exercises and progress to balance exercises using FitPAWS equipment. The goal is return to full activity and pheasant hunting by October.

For additional information:’_heel



Dr-Kerry_FisherAbout the Author: Kerry Fisher, DVM, CCRP ~ your Canine Fitness Expert. Throughout her career as a veterinarian, Dr. Fisher has focused on “Pre-hab and Rehab” for animals, pioneering therapeutic & conditioning exercises with FitPAWS Equipment. She owns Canine Rehab ~ Canine Fitness Unleashed!, a Colorado based Canine Gym with Injury Prevention and Canine Rehabilitation services. She has a passion for and experience with Sports Medicine for sporting, search & rescue, performance, working and hunting dogs. Dr. Kerry also has unique concepts for working with senior canine fitness, weight management, pain management, and behavior modification through exercise. She provides educational hands-on seminars and workshops worldwide. Do you want to take your dog’s fitness to another level? Let’s Get in Touch for a Fitness Assessment and Coaching for your dog. Dr. Kerry uses the DogTread Treadmill-Gait4Dog integrated software system for early Lameness Detection and monitoring the progress your dog is making during the course of rehabilitation. Injury prevention is key! Dr. Fisher is an athlete herself, enjoying endurance triathlons, mountain biking, bicycle touring, backpacking and telemark skiing. She biked, camped and toured 4,000 miles across the Northern Tier of the USA with her yellow Labrador, Mr. Mitchell. 2015 brings some challenging events to her plate: Ironman Arizona (140.6 mile event) and Leadville 100 mountain bike race (103 mile race at 10,000 feet+ elevation). As founder of Grit Gals, Kerry blogs to share her training tactics for these intense races. Human Fitness and Canine Fitness intertwined – to help you and your dogs reach your goals.

Comments are closed.