The outward signs of joint bruises, strains and sprains can be so similar that it's difficult to tell them apart. In fact, the first clue you may have that something's amiss--an obviously swollen joint that just hours before was normal--is identical in the case of each injury.
But all three injuries have distinct characteristics to help you distinguish between a minor problem and serious damage. Your veterinarian can make a definitive diagnosis but this chart can help you with an initial evaluation.
(The chart is in PDF format which can be viewed with the free Adobe Acrobat Reader program. If the program is not on your computer, please visit www.adobe.com to download your free copy. If you still have trouble opening the PDF file, email your name and fax number to firstname.lastname@example.org.)