Soft tissue damage is a broad condition and one of the commonest non-infectious diseases of the foot that includes multiple injuries. Animals are affected by soft tissue damage due to everyday handling that causes injuries limb injuries more often than we think. This can range from rupture of tendons e.g. superficial and deep digital flexor, rupture of muscles e.g. peroneus tertius muscle, rupture of ligaments e.g. cranial cruciate ligament, damage to nerves e.g. radial nerve to luxation of the knee cap. It is therefore necessary to know how to identify which specific injury has caused the damage in order to correctly remedy the condition.
1. Rapture of tendons
This injury is normally caused by a tight rope wound around the leg during tethering. Tethering is where an animal is fastened by a chain or rope to a central anchor point, causing it to be confined to a specific area. Tethering is sometimes used as a method of confining grazing farm animals (such as horses, donkeys, sheep, goats or cattle) under conditions which may otherwise cause them injury, endanger them in some way or permit them to stray. Tethering is often used on an individual basis to allow a grazing animal to access pasture/feed in unfenced areas. The rope cuts into the skin forming a wound that later gets infected.
- Severe lameness if the superficial and deep flexor tendons are cut
- The animal refuses to bear weight because the hock is over flexed.
- Over flexion of the fetlock joint which touches the ground as a result.
- Only sight lameness if only one tendon is ruptured.
- It is wise to consult with a veterinarian
- The animal may heal if it is only the superficial tendon affected.
- The leg can be immobilized with a plaster cast after a month.
- Supplementary feeding with concentrates, mineral licks and a good source of protein to speed up the bone healing process. Zero grazing is essential since the animal is immobilized.
2. Rupture of muscles
In this case the most commonly ruptured muscle in the leg is the peroneus tertius muscle.
- Dragging the foot
- Limb pulled backwards
- Hocks extended
- Stifle joint flexed and Achilles tendons slack and loose
- Painful swelling on the lateral side of the stifle joint.
- Complete rest for 6 weeks. Recovery is uneventful.
3. Rupture of ligaments supporting the knee
This happens due to injury to the knee region.
- When the animal walks, the stifle is fixed
- The heel is raised from the ground
- The weight is carried on the tip of the toe.
- Take animal to the district veterinary officer or a veterinarian to assess the condition and advice accordingly.
4. Luxation of patella
Luxation means displacement of the knee cap out of its place or “house”. It is caused by any injury to the inner (medial) side of the knee.
- Dislocated knee
- Painful sounds made by animal
- Inability of the limb to bend
- Contact a vet immediately for surgical assistance
- Take good care of the animals post-surgery.
5. Injury to the nerve
Most of the time the radial nerve is the one that gets injured. It is caused trauma to the upper limb and also lying on the side (recumbency) for a long time.
- Dropped elbow
- Flexed carpus and fetlock joint.
- Dragging of the foot. The carpus and the fetlock cannot be extended.
- Refer the case to a veterinarian
- Corticosteroids and diuretics could be used to reduce the inflammation.
- Proper handling of animals is vital to prevent this condition, when handling animals it is advisable to make sure that whatever is used or done on the animal’s limbs does not cause any harm.
- Injuries to animals must be avoided at all
- Regular check up’s of the animals’ being as well as body condition score is important for early diagnosis of the condition.