Hind Limb

What are Hind Limb (Back Leg) Injuries in Pets?

Your pet's rear legs, or hind limbs, require strength, stability, and flexibility in order for the animal to function normally in its day-to-day life. Like humans, cats and dogs can sustain injuries to any one of the major anatomical structures within the hind limb, including the hip, stifle (akin to the knee joint in humans), tarsus (ankle), and digits (toes). Hind limb injuries may also include soft tissue abnormalities with or without joint involvement.

Dog with recent hind leg surgery.

Hind limb injuries can present suddenly or develop gradually over a long period of time. If left untreated, a hind limb injury can lead to serious complications that drastically disrupt a pet's quality of life.

How Can I Tell if my Pet Has A Hind Limb Injury?

Your pet can't exactly tell you if one or both of its back legs are hurting, but you can often tell something is wrong simply by observing the way your animal moves. The symptoms of a hind limb injury will vary significantly depending on your cat or dog's breed, size, the severity of injury or illness, and the exact cause of the problem. Some of the most common signs and symptoms to look out for include:

  • Muscle weakness and/or atrophy (the muscle may appear smaller)
  • Lameness and limping (the hind limb may shake or collapse under the dog; or your dog may avoid putting weight on the limb)
  • Swelling, bruising, and/or increased warmth around an affected joint
  • Pain, often evidenced by reflexive guarding or vocalization when the affected joint is touched (your dog may whine or howl)
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Audible clicks or crepitus in the limb during gait or movement

Types Of Hind Limb Injuries In Pets Diagnosed By Our Orthopedic Veterinarian Team

There are a variety of different hind limb injuries that can affect pets, and unfortunately, they are not all that uncommon. Certain breeds are more at risk for specific conditions affecting the rear leg, especially if the condition is congenital in nature (such as hip dysplasia).

Our veterinary surgery team diagnoses and treat conditions affecting joints, bones, muscles, tendons, or ligaments in the hind limb, including:


  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Hip Luxation
    • Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis (JPS)
    • Double/Triple Pelvic Osteotomy (DPO/TPO)
    • Femoral Head and Neck Excision (FHO)
    • Total Hip Replacement (THR)
    • Iliopsoas Strain

Stifle (Knee)

Tarsus (Ankle)

  • Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD)
  • Achilles’ Tendon Injury
  • Collateral Ligament Damage
  • Tarsal Fractures

Common Causes of Hind Limb Injuries

Cats and dogs are athletic by nature; they are constantly running, jumping, leaping, rolling around, and in general being the active, sweet, live-in-the-moment pets we know and love. As in humans, a pet's physical activity can and does impose a risk of injury. This may include progressive, repetitive injuries or acute traumatic accidents that can lead to impairment.

Other causes of hind limb injuries include the inheritance of a congenital abnormality or the presence of another underlying health condition, such as osteoarthritis or parasite-borne illnesses (which often affect a cat or dog's joints).

How Are Hind Limb Injuries Diagnosed?

If you've been referred to our orthopedic veterinary team by your primary veterinarian, then we invite you to read this page to learn more about how to prepare for your first visit. During the initial consultation, our veterinary surgery team will thoroughly inspect your pet's affected rear limb. We'll feel the limb, test its strength, observe your pet's gait, and ask questions about your pet's recent behavior. Depending on our clinical insight, we may request specific tests and screenings including diagnostic imaging and lab work.

Once our evaluation is complete and a diagnosis has been made, we'll explain to you in detail what we've determined to be the likely cause of your animal's hind limb injury. We'll also make our recommendations for the most appropriate course of treatment, which may include veterinary surgery, rehabilitation, or regenerative medicine, depending on the type, severity, and duration of your pet's injury.

Wondering If Your Pet is Suffering from a Hind Limb Injury? Request a Referral to an Orthopedic Veterinarian at Sirius vet. 

At Sirius Veterinary Orthopedic Center, we can connect you with an orthopedic veterinarian who cares about your pet's health and well-being as much as you do! If you believe that your pet is showing signs and symptoms of a hind limb (rear leg) injury, then consider requesting a referral to us from your primary veterinarian. Our orthopedic veterinary surgeons can help you get to the bottom of what's affecting your four-legged family member and help your pet experience effective pain relief and improved mobility. Click here to learn more about what to expect as a pet parent or call (402) 934-1332 now.

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