Home » dog » Orthopedic diseases in a dog: symptoms and treatment [medicine wet Piotr Smentek

Orthopedic diseases in a dog: symptoms and treatment [medicine wet Piotr Smentek

With many orthopedic diseases in young, growing dogs there are lameness.

Orthopedic diseases of young dogs

The young, growing animal is probably associated with the constant movement, natural willingness to play, nibble and constant harassing of its guardian, thus provoking him to take an interest in the puppy.

It is full of energy that benefits from typical puppy behavior.

Strangely calm, effortless, apathetic and lying dogs are probably associated with an abnormality, some disease and quite quickly they are the reason for a veterinary consultation.

Movement and physical effort is an external expression of the animal's vitality and generally understood health when it is just entering its full life, it allows for the proper growth and development of muscles, bones and the entire system.

Anyway, even laymen, the image of a healthy dog ​​is undoubtedly associated with its rather high activity and mobility, which, however, also depends on the breed.

We decide to take care of the dog for various reasons.

Some choose him as a companion in life, others for the possibility of taking walks with him and being outdoors.

It is the ability to move, run, retrieve or sometimes take a leisurely walk at the guardian's leg that is often the reason for pride in your pet.

Systematic physical exertion in the fresh air obviously brings mutual health benefits for humans and dogs, and at the same time has a positive effect on the psyche of both organisms.

So all disorders related to improper movement, apathy or avoidance of activity, especially in a young and still growing dog, immediately constitute a reason for a quick veterinary consultation.

We cannot speak of a regularity in the case of lameness manifested in a young, so far active, individual who suddenly completely changes his behavior.

Even after intense exercise, a fully healthy body should not show any musculoskeletal dysfunction. For this reason, we should never underestimate the orthopedic symptoms in young puppies in the hope that they will recover on their own.

A young organism can also suffer from some osteoarticular diseases, which, even if only superficially, may come in handy.

In nature, only the ability to move properly determines survival expressed by the possibility of escaping from a threat or an effective and successful hunt, also in the period of growth.

So let's get acquainted with some of the orthopedic diseases that can occur in growing dogs.

  • How to recognize orthopedic diseases?
  • Causes of orthopedic diseases in young dogs
  • The most common orthopedic diseases of young dogs
    • Orthopedic disease in a dog: generalized osteomyelitis
    • Orthopedic disease in dogs: isolated elbow
    • Hypertrophic osteodystrophy
    • Orthopedic disease: osteochondrosis
    • Orthopedic diseases in dogs: avascular necrosis of the femur
    • Orthopedic diseases of dogs: dislocation of the kneecap
    • Orthopedic diseases in dogs: hip dysplasia

How to recognize orthopedic diseases?

How to recognize orthopedic diseases?

First of all, probably every dog ​​or cat guardian is able to quickly notice that his pet is limping or otherwise, "weird " is walking.

In most cases, of course, we are not able to identify the exact cause of this state of affairs, but the movement of our animal is what catches the eye immediately.

The change in the way we travel is so evident that in most cases it is difficult to say that we have not noticed it.

Many times, this sudden symptom is the reason for an immediate and urgent veterinary consultation, the more so when it suddenly appears after a walk and the dog from healthy becomes suffering in an instant.

Orthopedic diseases at any age may be accompanied by lameness in various ways.

Lameness is defined as an uneven movement resulting from the load on one or more sore limbs or from stiff limbs.

In other words, it is a impairment of the proper function of the limb, manifested in a different degree of impairment of the movement performed due to various reasons, which will be discussed in a moment.

Lameness is a symptom that informs the caregiver that something bad has happened within the limb and requires careful diagnosis each time to find the cause.

During its duration, the way of moving is disturbed, the animal, in most cases, simply does not want to exercise, and when forced to do so, it may even react with aggression.

The lameness gives the animal a great discomfort caused by the pain of the spared limb.

For this reason, the growing dog tries not to use a given limb, because normal loading it, i.e. standing on it, is associated with various degrees of pain.

And since it hurts involuntarily, it is better not to experience such an unpleasant sensation.

Failure to use the diseased limb brings some kind of relief from suffering, although in most cases it can not be completely tolerated.

Depending on the time of occurrence, lameness can be divided into:

  • sharp, i.e. those that appeared suddenly,
  • chronic, aggravating over time and lasting much longer.

It can happen at any age, in any breed and regardless of the physiological condition, size of the animal or its current health condition.

Causes of orthopedic diseases in young dogs

Causes of orthopedic diseases in young dogs

We already know from the introduction that lameness is a general symptom of the disease informing us that some pathology affects the musculoskeletal system, i.e. the limbs.

I would like us to realize and remember from the very beginning that virtually every disease of the osteoarticular system and a huge number of causes, i.e. the factors causing them, can give symptoms of lameness.

Probably every dog ​​keeper associates lameness with an injury caused by a factor damaging the osteoarticular system.

Each fracture, dislocation or contusion of a limb or soft tissues will be manifested by limiting its normal mobility, i.e. impairment of its ability to work properly.

Such injuries can occur at any age of the dog, regardless of its condition or mobility.

The most common causes of damage to the movement apparatus are:

  • traffic accident,
  • falling from a height,
  • hitting a solid, hard obstacle,
  • kick,
  • hanging on one limb,
  • incorrect standing, especially when moving quickly.

This group of general causes also includes frequent damage, skin or muscle wounds caused by standing on sharp objects or foreign bodies stuck in a limb, e.g. fragments of nails, glass, pushpins or spikes.

Cutting the fingertip often along with local bleeding occurs often during more than one walk and is associated with the plague of throwing rubbish and breaking glass bottles wherever they fall.

Any disease condition of the finger pads, including broken claws, can cause lameness in a given limb.

Sometimes the causes can be really mundane and easy to eliminate. As an example, let's use snow sticking to the fur, hair of the interdigital spaces in winter and forming balls that make walking difficult.

Also, too long deformed claws can cause lameness, although this happens very rarely in young growing animals.

Problems with walking manifested by lameness do not have to be caused by mechanical force on the limb, but may result from many diseases, the occurrence of which is characteristic for a given age group.

And so certain lameness diseases will begin to manifest in young animals.

These are:

  • elbow and hip dysplasia,
  • femoral head necrosis,
  • rickets,
  • juvenile osteitis.

So we can clearly see that most of the lameness problems are orthopedic.

By detailing the causes of lameness depending on the age of the dogs, we can show certain predispositions resulting from the size of the breed and age of the animal.

And so immature large dogs with lameness of the pectoral limbs that arise suddenly may suffer from epiphyseal fractures or spiral bone fractures, and those of a chronic nature may indicate:

  • osteochondrosis of the shoulder joint, elbow joint,
  • isolated ulnar process,
  • generalized inflammation of the bones called panosteitis,
  • hypertrophic osteodystrophy,
  • premature closure of the epiphyses,
  • mismatch of the elbow joint.

When the lameness affects growing dogs of large breeds and the dysfunction of the pelvic limb of an acute nature is manifested, we may deal with a bone fracture, and in the case of a chronic nature:

  • hip dysplasia,
  • osteochondrosis of the knee joint,
  • dislocation of the kneecap,
  • hypertrophic ostodystrophy of generalized osteitis,
  • osteochondrosis of the ankle joint.

Small breeds growing in the event of acute lameness of the thoracic limbs may show fractures of the bones, epiphyses, and in the chronic case, congenital dislocations of the elbow or shoulder joint.

In the case of pelvic limbs, acute lameness may result from fractures or premature atresia of the epiphysis, and chronic from dislocation of the patella.

The most common orthopedic diseases of young dogs

The most common orthopedic diseases of young dogs

Orthopedic disease in a dog: generalized osteomyelitis

Generalized osteomyelitis (enostosis, eosinophilic osteitis) is orthopedic disease called panosteitis in Latin.

It is a disease of young, growing dogs in the course of which there is the formation of intraosseous and subperiosteal bone growths, the clinical symptoms of which are bone soreness and limb lameness.

Enostosis is also known as eosinophilic osteitis or osteomyelitis of young German shepherds from the breed that often occurs in.

The cause of the disease is still unknown, although many researchers suspect a high-calorie and protein-rich diet as a causative factor.

Moreover, overfeeding young growing dogs of large breeds is often found in field practice among overzealous keepers.

An increase in the amount of protein in the food can cause intraosseous edema, which directly increases the pressure in the periosteal cavity, and all of this leads to bone marrow ischemia.

This is, of course, a theory that is not fully scientifically proven.

The developing disease process is not accompanied by symptoms of chronic inflammation, infection or other pathological changes (e.g. cancerous).

It occurs mainly in males of large and giant breeds, including often in German Shepherds, which are predisposed to the development of the disease.

Enostosis it occurs mainly in puppies up to 2 years of age and will rarely appear in older animals.

Its symptoms are severe pain when touching a limb and the aforementioned lameness appearing in one limb and then often involving another.

Lameness of varying degrees and severe pain when palpating long bones, as it is easy to see, are rather vague orthopedic symptoms, on the basis of which it is difficult to recognize the disease.

Sometimes we notice a strong lameness of one limb, and sometimes a situation when the symptoms spread from one limb to the other and the symptoms regress to reappear later.

The owner most often does not associate lameness with direct trauma or even intense physical exertion.

The diagnosis is made on the basis of a clinical examination and X-ray control performed 7-10 days apart.

In the initial stage of the disease, X-ray images do not show pathological changes, despite the presence of clinical symptoms, which may confuse the veterinarian, hence it is recommended to take a repeat image just in the period of 7-10 days after the first.

The radiological changes in the long bones can be well compared in the two photos.

First, we may not notice the widening of the nutrient holes and the obliteration of the trabecular bone structure, and these changes will only be visible in the second X-ray image.

Later, mottled bone shading, thinning of the cortical layer or spots within the medullary cavity also appear.

An experienced radiologist should have no problems with making an accurate diagnosis and description of the photo. Laboratory tests are not specific and cannot be helpful in making a final diagnosis.

We must always differentiate enostosis from other diseases occurring at this age, which we can undoubtedly include:

  • hip dysplasia,
  • osteochondrosis of the pelvic limbs,
  • fragmentation of the coronary process of the ulna,
  • osteochondrosis dissecans,
  • non-fused accessory appendix.

The prognosis for juvenile osteitis is good, the disease resolves on its own, which does not mean that we should let the animal suffer.

The prognosis for enostosis is the best of all those mentioned above orthopedic diseases adolescence.

Treatment of enostosis

Treatment consists of symptomatic administration of one of the NSAIDs and restraint of movement. By the time you reach the age of 2, the disease heals itself and is no longer present.

Surgical intervention should not be attempted.

So, although enostosis is a lameness disease and may look dangerous, it does not mean a serious disease with long-term consequences. However, it absolutely requires therapy that minimizes pain symptoms, because the animal must never be allowed to suffer.

Orthopedic disease in dogs: isolated elbow

Isolated elbow process (unconnected elbow process, elbow dysplasia in Latin. processus anconeus) is orthopedic disease consisting in the non-union of the appendix with the proximal metaphysis of the ulna.

Under physiological conditions, the ulna develops as a secondary site of ossification of the ulna at about 12 weeks of age and does not connect to the ulna until the dog is 5-6 months old.

Therefore, a radiological diagnosis cannot be made until the dog is of the appropriate age.

The etiology of this orthopedic disease is not fully known and is only based on hypotheses.

One of the popular hypotheses is that the onset of the disease is an expression of ossification disorders during the fusion of the appendix with the ulna.

During this process, cartilage thickens, cracks and necrosis, and bone pressure leads to abnormal fusion of the ulna.

The potential causes are also congenital, nutritional, traumatic and hormonal factors.

Breeds predisposed to the disease are again large and giant dogs, especially males up to about 1 year old, with German Shepherds at the forefront.

The disease is manifested by lameness of one limb with limited mobility in the elbow joint.

The affected dog sits or stands with the limb twisted outwards and walking shows unnatural stiffness. There is swelling in the joint and pain when it bends.

By applying pressure to the elbow area, the animal manifests pain and defends itself against this activity.

An X-ray picture of the above-mentioned area, including the healthy limb, may be helpful in the diagnosis, because the disease may affect both appendages at the same time. This is what happens in 20-35% of cases.

In radiological diagnosis, we take several photos in various projections, including a side elbow photo. Laboratory test results usually remain normal.

The disease process leads to arthrosis, i.e. irreversible changes in the joint.

Traditional treatment should include anti-inflammatory drugs, weight control, adequate physical activity, and administration of chondroprotective drugs.

Drug treatment is offered to older animals with osteoarthritis. Any exercises to strengthen the muscles around the elbow can also help.

Surgical procedure basically consists in removing the elbow process.

Attempts to fix the ridge with screws turned out to be not very effective and caused additional complications, hence they are not used very often in orthopedics.

They can be performed in young dogs up to about one year of age with slight degenerative changes.

Hypertrophic osteodystrophy

Hypertrophic osteodystrophy ODH, also known as hip dysplasia or osteopathy, is orthopedic disease, in which damage to the trabeculae in the epiphyses of long bones in young, rapidly growing large breed dogs occurs.

The cause of the disease is unknown, although alimentary hypercalcitonism, infections (e.g. distemper virus) or vitamin C deficiency.

The pathogenesis of this orthopedic disease although it is not known, disturbances in the blood supply to the epiphyses have been observed in its course. This leads to a delay in ossification of the growth discs.

The acute phase of the disease lasts up to a week and is manifested by lameness and general symptoms such as fever, lack of food intake, difficulty getting up or apathy.

Symptoms come and go.

Dogs therefore require intensive veterinary care in the acute phase of the disease.

Puppies of large breeds 3-4 months old with relapses up to 8 months old, mainly males, are ill.

The breed is predisposed to the Weimaraner.

Lameness in the course of the disease appears suddenly, which may suggest mechanical trauma and may affect all four limbs.

In a clinical examination, the metaphyses of long bones hurt, and these symptoms are accompanied by:

  • fever,
  • edema,
  • general weakness.

Some dogs are unable to walk independently.

They are also more common in the thoracic limbs, specifically in the distal segment of the radial bone.

In radiological diagnosis, we can observe irregular areas of clearances in the epiphyseal zones of long bones, which are arranged parallel to the epiphyses.

The whole thing looks like a "double root line " is being formed.

The disease lasts for several days (usually 7-10), but there are numerous relapses and, unfortunately, permanent skeletal deformities are possible. This is sometimes a reason for animals to be euthanized.

Treatment is only symptomatic and includes pain relief.

Sometimes, however, severely weakened animals require fluid therapy, administration of glucocorticosteroids or vitamin C, although the effectiveness and purposefulness of such treatment have not been documented.

Orthopedic disease: osteochondrosis

Osteochondrosis, as exemplified by aseptic osteochondritis dissecans of the knee joint (OCD osteochondritis dissecans) is a disorder of endochondrial ossification during which there is a separation of cartilage.

Yeah orthopedic disease occurs uncommonly in young giant breed dogs.

Similar changes may also occur in other joints, i.e. the shoulder, elbow and ankle joints.

The disease begins with a disturbance of the mineralization of the epiphyses or the joint and metaphysis complex responsible for bone growth.

The cause, as in most of the diseases listed here, remains unknown, although it is believed to be influenced by nutritional, genetic and environmental factors.

One of the important triggers is considered to be excess calcium in the diet.

This leads to thickening of the growth cartilage and, as a consequence, malnutrition and death of chondrocytes. The loss of chondrocytes leads to the formation of fissures, cracks in the cartilage and its fragmentation, and then entering the synovial fluid and the development of joint inflammation.

The disease often occurs on both sides of large and giant breed dogs.

Again, the male German Shepherd Dog is a predisposed breed here.

Lameness occurs most often at the age of 5-7 months (even up to 3 years) and is acute or chronic. It can be strong or mild and will get worse after exercise.

Lameness affects one pelvic limb, specifically the knee joint, which may show crepitus, more fluid. It is common to observe your dog becoming stiff in the morning after resting.

Arthroscopy and imaging tests may be helpful in the diagnosis.

We perform radiological examination in two standard projections.

In osteochondrosis, we find recessed clearances on the medial or lateral femoral condyle, and secondarily signs of joint degeneration.

The disease leads to degenerative changes in the joint.

Treatment is symptomatic, so it consists in restricting movement and administering painkillers and chondroprotectors.

Conservative therapy should last 6 to 8 weeks.

Another form of conservative treatment is performing movements in the joint (straightening and bending), which should lead to the separation of the cartilage flap and healing of the resulting cavity.

Once the symptoms of lameness are under control, a slow recovery is recommended to strengthen the muscles that make up the joint. We also conservatively try to control body weight and prevent obesity.

The surgical procedure consists in removing the separated piece of cartilage.

Surgical treatment is recommended in young animals before the appearance of degenerative changes in the joint (osteoarthritis). It is best to perform such procedures with the use of arthroscopy.

In extreme, very advanced clinical cases, a knee prosthesis is performed, which, however, in large, heavy breeds is not a simple procedure.

So there is osteochondrosis orthopedic disease, in which the ossification of the articular cartilage is disturbed and the exchange of chondrocytes into bone tissue is disturbed.

In other words, in places where bone tissue should be formed, cartilage cells divide into which blood vessels do not penetrate, which consequently leads to the failure to produce bone tissue.

Orthopedic diseases in dogs: avascular necrosis of the femur

Aseptic necrosis of the femur, or Legg Celve Pertes disease, is a non-inflammatory aseptic necrosis of the femoral head that occurs in young, small dogs in the period of 3-13 months of life.

Yeah orthopedic disease it is characterized by a slowly increasing lameness, which over a period of several weeks leads to a lack of strain on the pelvic limb. Animals may have a worse appetite or lick their skin over a sick hip.

The affected hip joint is painful and has lameness.

The diagnosis is made on the basis of the X-ray image. The treatment is operative and consists in the removal of the femoral head and neck or the prosthesis of the joint.

Orthopedic diseases of dogs: dislocation of the kneecap

A medial or lateral dislocation of the patella is a displacement of the patella out of the groove of the femoral block. It is a common cause of lameness in small breed dogs of all ages and regardless of gender or race.

Medial dislocation of the patella mainly affects small, miniature breeds.

The symptoms of developing lameness can vary in severity, ranging from virtually slight lameness in the first degree dislocation to severe in the fourth stage.

Sometimes animals support a diseased limb.

Traditional treatment of this orthopedic disease consists in restricting movement and administering anti-inflammatory drugs.

Surgical resolution of the dislocated patella problem is to prevent its periodic dislocation, which in turn results in faster damage to the cartilage in this area. It is based on various techniques of keeping the kneecap in the block groove, which exceeds this development.

Orthopedic diseases in a dog: hip dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a well-known disease that, in short, consists in abnormal tissue development, including the elements that build a given joint.

Is orthopedic disease, with which the animal is born, comes into the world and then undergoes gradual development with age, destroying prematurely affected area.

As puppies, animals with dysplasia may show slight lameness and manifest the first clinical symptoms in a different way of moving, hence it is extremely important to recognize the problem as early as possible.

It will allow for the implementation of appropriate treatment, including pharmacological and surgical treatment, thanks to which we will delay the processes of joint degeneration as much as possible and ensure the comfort of being ill for the dog.

This orthopedic disease affects various breeds especially the larger ones.

Sick individuals should not be bred so as not to pass the disease on to their offspring.

The classic method of diagnosis is a clinical examination confirmed by X-ray images.

Dysplasia can also affect other joints, e.g. elbow joint.


Describing these few in general orthopedic diseases in young growing dogs we can see that in fact each of them can run among similar clinical symptoms and the causative factor is unknown in most of them.

Therefore, any lameness requires a quick medical intervention because, as you probably do not need to convince anyone, it is not something normal and natural, especially in a newly developing organism.

I am aware that I have not listed all the potential causes of lameness in young, growing animals, but this is beyond the scope of this study.

In general, as we can see, lameness may appear already in the growth phase, which in fact affect the further development of the skeleton and the entire movement apparatus and determine the health of the individual.

Therefore, in any case of lameness, it is always necessary to consult a competent veterinarian for symptoms.

Lameness within various limbs in animals is a very common reason for consultations in veterinary offices and occurs practically at all ages and in all breeds, including young animals.

While in older animals the treatment is often only symptomatic, in young and growing dogs we have wider therapeutic possibilities.

However, it is necessary to make an accurate diagnosis, without which it is difficult to talk about effective treatment.

Also, not every orthopedic disease of adolescence has to be very serious, the consequences of which, for example, is enostosis with a good prognosis.

Therefore, being a responsible caretaker, it is worth not to underestimate even the slightest lameness and impaired movement, because early treatment creates a better chance for recovery, and ultimately brings great relief to the suffering animal.

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