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Lameness in a dog: diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation

Lameness in a dog

Lameness in a dog it is a general symptom of many orthopedic diseases.

One of the main reasons for buying a dog of a particular breed is the possibility of taking walks and being outdoors with them.

It is the ability to move, run, retrieve or sometimes take a leisurely walk by 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.

Many dog ​​keepers choose a specific, very active breed to be able to take care of the right dose of effort that guarantees health in this way.

Nowadays, no one is surprised to go for walks with a dog or even a cat, and parks and squares or other green areas are full of pets not only in the warm season.

Of course, the desire to move is a natural behavior of a healthy organism and a manifestation of its vitality.

All disorders related to improper movement, apathy or avoidance of activity, especially in the case of a very mobile dog, immediately constitute a reason for a quick veterinary consultation.

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

Individuals with reduced mobility are quickly eliminated from the environment and fall prey to other predators.

In order for the movement to run efficiently and give the animal a lot of fun, it must, of course, be healthy and have a properly functioning movement apparatus, i.e. bones, joints and muscles.

The dysfunction of one of these elements will manifest itself in limiting the mobility of a given limb, that is, generally speaking, its limb lameness.

It is a very common symptom that we often deal with in veterinary clinics and therefore it is worth knowing more about it.

In this article, I will try to provide you with a general overview of practical information on the problem of lameness limiting movement in our pupils.

  • What is lameness?
  • Causes of lameness in dogs
  • Symptoms of lameness in the dog
  • Lameness diagnosis
  • Lameness in a young dog
    • Generalized osteomyelitis (enostosis, eosinophilic osteitis) called panosteitis in Latin.
    • Isolated ulnar (unconnected ulnar)
    • Hypertrophic osteodystrophy ODH, also known as hip dysplasia or osteopathy
    • Aseptic osteochondritis dissecans of the knee joint
    • Dislocation of the kneecap, medial or lateral
    • Hip dysplasia
    • Calve Perthes' disease
  • Lameness in an older dog
    • Osteoarthritis
    • Rheumatoid arthritis
    • Bone tumors
    • Degeneration of the lumbosacral joint
    • Intervertebral disc disease
    • Shoulder dislocation
    • Rupture of cruciate ligaments leading to joint degeneration
  • Lameness in a dog, treatment and rehabilitation

What is lameness?

What is lameness?

First of all, probably every dog ​​or cat owner is able to quickly notice that his pet is limping or otherwise than usual, "weird " is about.

In most cases, of course, we are not able to accurately identify the 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 a healthy one immediately becomes suffering.

Lameness is defined as uneven motion resulting from the load on one or more painful limbs or from stiffness in the 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 in a dog is a disease symptom informing the caregiver that something bad has happened within the limb and each time requires careful diagnostics to detect 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 dog or cat mainly 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.

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

Whoever says that lameness affects only old, sick animals and that young ones do not fully develop are wrong.

Depending on the time of occurrence, lameness can be divided into spicy, that is, those that appeared suddenly and chronic intensifying over time and lasting much longer.

They 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 lameness in dogs

Causes of lameness in dogs

We already know from the introduction that lameness is a general disease symptom informing us that some pathology concerns 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 everyone lameness to the dog handler is associated with an injury caused by a factor damaging the osteoarticular system.

Each fracture, sprain or contusion of a limb or soft tissues will be manifested by limiting its normal mobility.

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.

Too long deformed claws can also cause lameness.

Generally, causes related to trauma, contusion or fracture can occur in an animal of practically any age, which should be carefully remembered.

Walking problems manifested lameness they do not have to be caused by a mechanical force on a 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.

Discopathies, i.e. diseases related to the spine or osteoarthritis, relate rather to mature or older dogs, and a rupture of the cruciate ligament in the knee or a prolapse of the patella can occur in dogs of any age group.

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 arising suddenly can suffer from fractures of the root if spiral bone fractures.

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 lameness affects ascending large breed dogs and manifests itself with an acute pelvic limb dysfunction we may have to deal with broken bones, and in the case of a chronic nature:

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

Small breeds growing in a situation of acute lameness of the thoracic limbs may show bone fractures, epiphysis and in the chronic case congenital dislocations of the elbow joint if shoulder.

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.

Adult dogs can suffer from a large number of orthopedic diseases that manifest themselves as lameness. And yes:

  1. Adult large dogs, pectoral limbs:
    • broken bones,
    • dislocation of the shoulder or elbow joint (acute causes),
    • Osteoarthritis as a consequence of elbow dysplasia,
    • biceps sheath inflammation,
    • bone or soft tissue tumors,
    • brachial nerve damage,
    • disc disease in the cervical region,
    • arthritis.
  2. Adult large dogs pelvic limbs:
    • broken bones,
    • dislocation of the hip, knee,
    • osteoarthritis after rupture of the cruciate ligaments in the knee (acute causes),
    • dislocation of the kneecap,
    • lumbosacral syndrome,
    • bone and soft tissue cancer, arthritis (chronic causes).
  3. adult small dogs pectoral limbs:
    • broken bones,
    • joint dislocation (acute causes),
    • osteoarthritis,
    • habitual dislocation of the shoulder joint,
    • bone and soft tissue tumors,
    • arthritis,
    • cervical disc disease (chronic causes).
  4. adult small dogs pelvic limbs:
    • fractures,
    • dislocations (acute causes),
    • dislocation of the kneecap,
    • bone tumors,
    • lumbosacral syndrome,
    • arthritis,
    • intervertebral disc disease of the thoracolumbar region.

So we can see how many different causes can cause lameness symptoms and that this nonspecific orthopedic symptom can occur in virtually any skeletal condition.

Symptoms of lameness in the dog

Symptoms of lameness in the dog

A limping dog is a patient who comes to the veterinary clinic rather quickly due to an existing problem with smooth movement.

Most of the animal keepers immediately seek specific help and, above all, an accurate diagnosis and further targeted treatment.

Often, however, there are cases, especially when the symptoms are not very strongly expressed, that the pet's keeper waits for it to "pass and pass by itself ".

In general, however, the lameness can be seen with the naked eye and even a person without a typically medical education is able to detect "a different, incorrect way of moving " a dog.

The most general symptom of lameness is the fact that the limb is excluded from use to a varying degree, i.e. not burdening it, not standing on it.

The animal instinctively starts to move on the remaining healthy limbs, which minimizes the pain symptoms associated with the diseased paw.

The animal limps, moves in a "dissonant" manner, lifts the affected limb upwards without standing on the ground.

All of this is the result of avoiding putting stress on the damaged area of ​​the body, which causes, as I mentioned, less pain.

The lameness is, generally speaking, the information that the limb covered by it is not efficient and the correct movement on it is associated with the animal's discomfort.

Many disease or traumatic causes can cause it, but the common feature is always pain of varying degrees.

By sparing the sick limb, the animal tries to relieve it by shifting the weight to the other side of the body as if it was weighing more.

In the case of lameness of the thoracic limbs, we can observe the lifting of the head after touching the affected limb to the ground, which reduces its load.

Lameness resulting from joint diseases may be accompanied by:

  • short step,
  • incomplete bending of the joints,
  • placing the limb outside.

Animals with bilateral joint pain may not show marked lameness.

However, it does occur with them shortened step, bilateral muscle atrophy if transferring weight from one side to the other while standing.

In many cases, lameness is accompanied by general symptoms associated with unpleasant pain.

So no one should be surprised that dogs with lameness are reluctant to move and much prefer a passive posture expressed in lying on their bed or sleeping excessively.

Exactly that lameness makes them reluctant to go for walks that they have adored so far or refuse to eat.

Pain symptoms accompanying lameness are not very specific.

Animals become lethargic, may have an elevated general temperature, refuse to eat or drink, or squeal when forced to exercise.

Lameness in the case of fractures, dislocations, mechanical damage or arthritis is accompanied by orthopedic symptoms on the part of the affected limb.

It could be:

  • edema,
  • local severe soreness and warmth in the area,
  • intensive licking of a given joint as a relief reaction and, at the same time, information about soreness,
  • hematoma or purulent discharge in case of biting,
  • various degrees of limitation of the functionality of a given limb.

Sometimes lameness may be accompanied by bleeding (open fractures, wounds, abscesses).

Often it is also an abnormal appearance of the limb itself, i.e. excessive bending, non-physiological arrangement of the bones forming a given section or some deformation.

The animal does not allow itself to be touched in the damaged area and may even react with aggression manifested in an attempt to bite the examiner.

In acute, traumatic cases, all symptoms will be more pronounced and they will appear most often suddenly, which is related to the causative agent.

In other situations, when the lameness is chronic, lasts a long time and is not very painful, it may be mild and disappear even from time to time, which gives the illusion of a cure.

Each case when the harmonious way of moving our animal and its favorite form and way of movement are disturbed requires a quick medical and veterinary consultation.

Lameness diagnosis

Lameness diagnosis

The diagnosis of lameness only seems to be an easy task and in many cases is really troublesome.

It requires a skilfully conducted clinical interview from the examiner, which can really provide a lot of valuable information and focus the diagnosis on a given disease entity or group of diseases.

Lameness can be seen with the naked eye many times and you do not need to be an outstanding expert on the subject to find out its presence, but when discovering the cause, you often have to show great knowledge and the ability to listen to the caregiver.

Any examination of an orthopedic patient as it is limping dog we start with a thorough clinical interview consisting in asking many questions and drawing conclusions from what the pet owner says to us.

The nature of the symptom is important, i.e. whether the lameness appeared suddenly, e.g. during a walk or maybe its symptom grows slowly, gradually, with varying intensity for some time now.

We ask if the animal has been running intensively recently, if it has not been injured or has come back with bleeding and lifting a limb.

Then, we always conduct a general examination of the patient, assessing all parameters as for any standard visit to the clinic.

So we measure the general temperature, tested heart rate, breaths, mucous membranes, available lymph nodes, auscultate the heart, palpate the abdominal cavity, etc.

We ask about the treatment of the dog for other diseases, taken medications, dietary supplements, the food given to the dog and we evaluate the condition of the animal.

Only then do we start looking at the sick limb on which the dog is limping.

Watching the animal is not a waste of time because it will make sure which limb the patient is actually limping on, because it may turn out that it is not the same limb indicated by the caregiver incorrectly recognizing the movement disorder.

In the case of evident lameness, mistakes are unlikely to happen.

So we observe the position of the limb, its appearance and any deviations from the other, analogous, for example, in the muscles of both limbs.

It is also good practice to allow the animal to move around in the clinic where we can see pathologies ourselves.

We evaluate the way of moving during a leisurely walk but also during faster movement.

Only when we are sure which limb is affected by the lameness, we proceed to a directional examination, so we palpate it and examine it from a neurological point of view.

Palpation allows you to judge which area is hurting and should be done on a conscious animal.

Sometimes, however, it is not possible to perform it due to the aggressive attitude of the patient and then we have to resort to anesthesia, premedication of the dog.

We also test healthy limbs to compare the dog's responses to manipulation and pressure.

We carry out the test on a standing animal, assessing the appearance of muscles and joints and assessing deep feeling, while palpating the limb, we pay attention to:

  • pain reactions,
  • visible damage to the skin and soft tissues,
  • possible asymmetry - deformations,
  • swelling,
  • mobility disorders,
  • crackles,
  • instability.

Only the detection of pathologies in a given area or deviations from the norm should direct our examination to a given area.

We can then make further inquiries about what is wrong with a limping patient under anesthesia.

Carrying out a thorough orthopedic examination does not focus only on palpating a given area and performing joint movements, but also on performing certain tests, such as.:

  • tibia compression test,
  • drawer test,
  • the Ortolani test,
  • the Barlow test.

Their positive result may confirm the diagnosis, but the obtained results are not always fully reliable, which should be remembered.

Additional tests are very helpful in identifying the causes of lameness, including:

  • X-ray imaging tests at the forefront,
  • cytology,
  • fine needle biopsy.

X-ray image shows, as we all know, fractures of long bones, their displacement, assesses healing processes, assesses degenerative changes in joints.

However, making a certain diagnosis requires taking pictures in several projections and sometimes comparing them with the other healthy limb.

Computed tomography as a modern method of imaging lesions, it allows to view the diseased area in cross sections.

It is a more perfect method compared to the traditional X-ray image and the image obtained is more accurate and in many respects fuller (e.g. better assesses small bone fragments or a developing cancer that is in contact with the bone).

Magnetic resonance imaging is a method that best illustrates soft tissues, i.e. muscles or ligaments, and in some cases is a complementary test in the diagnosis of lameness.

The same is with Ultrasound which best visualizes soft tissues and may be helpful in the diagnosis of pathology:

  • soft tissues,
  • joints,
  • muscles,
  • ligaments.

Puncture of the joint and obtaining material for Pap tests or material downloaded in progress biopsy in case of suspicion of a neoplastic process, they can also be helpful in establishing the final cause of lameness.

A more complicated technique for examining joints is arthroscopy that is, viewing the joint from the inside under general anesthesia.

In each case, the selection of appropriate research techniques should be dictated by the results obtained in the orthopedic examination and on the basis of data obtained from the interview.

We never start diagnosing with additional tests, which should always be the final confirmation of our earlier assumptions.

Lameness in a young dog

Lameness in a young dog

As we already know, lameness can occur at any age and, unfortunately, it does not avoid young, growing animals, i.e. in full vitality.

Broken bones, mechanical trauma resulting from a fall, collision with a car, damage to the finger pad due to being cut after being stepped on a sharp object often occurs in young, active and very mobile animals.

Besides, this group of reasons "does not choose" and applies to animals of all ages.

However, some diseases are characteristic of young individuals.

Generalized osteomyelitis (enostosis, eosinophilic osteitis) 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.

The cause of the condition is unknown, although some people suspect high-calorie, protein-rich dog food as a contributing factor.

It occurs mainly in males of large and giant breeds, often in German Shepherds.

Its symptoms are severe pain when touching a limb and mentioned above lameness appearing in one limb and then often affecting another.

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

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

Treatment consists of symptomatic administration of one of the NSAIDs and restraint of movement.

Upon reaching approx 2 years old the disease heals itself and no longer occurs.

Isolated ulnar (unconnected ulnar)

It is a condition in which the appendix does not fuse with the proximal epiphysis of the ulna.

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.

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.

The disease process leads to arthrosis that is, irreversible changes in the pond.

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

Surgical procedure basically consists in removing the elbow process.

Hypertrophic osteodystrophy ODH, also known as hip dysplasia or osteopathy

It is a disease in which the trabeculae of the epiphyses of long bones are damaged in young, rapidly growing large breed dogs.

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

The acute phase of the disease lasts up to a week and is manifested:

  • lameness,
  • fever,
  • lack of food intake,
  • difficulty getting up,
  • apathy.

Symptoms come and go.

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.

The disease lasts for several days, 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.

Aseptic osteochondritis dissecans of the knee joint

It is a disorder of endochondral ossification during which the cartilage separates.

It occurs in young dogs of giant breeds.

Similar changes may also occur in other joints, i.e. the joint:

  • brachial,
  • elbow,
  • jump.

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.

Arthroscopy and imaging tests may be helpful in the diagnosis.

The disease leads to degenerative changes in the joint.

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

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

Dislocation of the kneecap, medial or lateral

It is a displacement of the patella from 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 and 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 is based on restriction of movement and the administration of 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.

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.

It is a disease with which the animal is born, comes into the world and then undergoes gradual development with age, destroying the 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.

It concerns various races, 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.

Calve Perthes' disease

Avoid 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 during the period of 3-13 months old.

The disease 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.

I am aware that I have not listed all the potential causes of lameness in young, growing animals, but it 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 in an older dog

Lameness in an older dog

Lameness also affects animals in adulthood and older age, and probably everyone associates it with this period of life.

The more advanced the dog, the greater the chance of any degenerative diseases or even neoplastic processes.

Of course, all fractures, dislocations caused by injuries, accidents can occur at any age and also affect the elderly.

They are the cause of severe lameness, regardless of the breed or age of the animal.

Some lameness is more characteristic of old age.


Osteoarthritis i.e. a non-inflammatory degenerative disease of the joint leading to the degeneration of articular cartilage with the formation of bone spurs and changes in the synovium.

These changes can lead to ankylosis of the joint that is, permanent stiffening, which of course significantly impairs its proper mobility.

Osteoarthritis is manifested by lameness to varying degrees and causes chronic suffering and reluctance to move in animals.

Over time, dogs become less active and are reluctant to engage in any form of exercise, including walking.

The degenerative disease may arise as a consequence of the already mentioned joint dysplasia.

Much could be written on this extremely extensive topic.

Diagnosis is made on the basis of clinical examination and imaging techniques.

Treatment includes maintaining an appropriate body weight, systematic but not too strenuous exercise, administration of anti-inflammatory drugs, special diets based on substances with documented medical effects and rehabilitation.

Rheumatoid arthritis

It is a chronic, non-infectious disease, well known from human medicine, with a so far unknown cause.

The immunological background is suspected, and hence the participation of rheumatoid factors.

The resulting immune complexes that build up in the synovium initiate inflammation.

The cartilage is destroyed, the joint is swollen and the ligaments are torn, which results in the improper functioning of the sick joint.

In the course of the disease, we observe not very characteristic symptoms such as difficulties in moving, getting up from bedding, stumbling, stiffness of the limbs.

X-rays are helpful in the diagnosis, and the treatment consists of administering a combination of immunosuppressive drugs (e.g. prednisolone if cyclosporin).

Bone tumors

They can arise in the skeleton or spread to it from the primary site.

They mostly occur in age over 7 years and they affect large and giant breeds, which does not mean that we will not meet them in smaller dogs.

Predisposed breeds are:

  • greyhounds,
  • great dane,
  • rottweilers.

The most common primary bone tumor is osteosarcoma mainly in the thoracic limbs.

It is a locally malignant tumor that often metastasizes and destroys the bone.

May metastasize the lungs.

It is very often associated with great pain and by weakening the bone, it leads to pathological fractures.

Other neoplasms occurring in the skeleton are worth mentioning:

  • chondrosarcoma,
  • fibrosarcoma,
  • liposarcoma,
  • osteoma,
  • cartilage.

The diagnosis is made, among others, on the basis of the X-ray image and the biopsy performed.

Treatment is difficult and long-term prognosis is poor.

Most cases, unfortunately, end with the euthanasia of the animal.

Although sometimes attempts are made to surgical treatment consisting in limb amputation, it is a very radical procedure, and given the frequent metastases, many dog ​​handlers do not decide to do so.

The only thing left to do is fight the pain symptoms that lead to lameness.

Degeneration of the lumbosacral joint

It is a neurological disorder that causes pressure on the nerves that come out of the cauda equina, caused by tissue advancing into the lumen of the spinal canal.

Middle-aged and older dogs of large breeds are more likely to suffer from the disease.

Among the numerous other clinical symptoms, the forehead may be affected by various degrees of impairment of proper movement, including lameness of the pelvic limbs.

So we can see that lameness does not always have to originate in a given limb, but it can also result from its innervation and be one of the most neurological symptoms.

Intervertebral disc disease

It is a disease similar to the one described earlier and an example of pathology occurring in various parts of the spine and as one of the symptoms giving lameness and movement impairment, including its complete inability and paralysis.

Shoulder dislocation

It is a pathology involving the destruction of the structures that stabilize the joint, which leads to the separation of the scapula from the humerus.

It can be congenital or traumatic.

Structures (rupture of ligaments and tendons) stabilizing the joint are damaged.

Often, damage to the joint in this particular case is accompanied by a chest injury.

The disease process is accompanied by significant lameness of the thoracic limb.

The diagnosis is made on the basis of a clinical examination combined with an interview and confirmed by an X-ray image.

Treatment includes surgery.

Rupture of cruciate ligaments leading to joint degeneration

Although damage to the cruciate ligaments in the knee can occur at any age, degeneration caused by rupture lead in the long term to faster progressive degeneration of the joint.

The severity of the lameness depends on the degree of ligament damage.

And so, with significant damage, rupture, we deal with severe lameness and no strain on the limb, in chronic damage the animal may carefully stand on the limb, and in a state of partial rupture, the lameness may be moderate and disappear after rest.

The following may be helpful in the diagnosis:

  • drawer test,
  • arthroscopy,
  • x-ray picture.

The treatment is surgical (e.g. angular osteotomy of the tibia) and pharmacological.

The latter is based on restriction of movement, administration of anti-inflammatory drugs and chondroprotectors, and works better in small dogs up to 10 kg.

Rehabilitation can also be very helpful in the recovery process.

Lameness in a dog, treatment and rehabilitation

Lameness in a dog, treatment and rehabilitation

As we well know, lameness is a clinical symptom accompanying many diseases and pathologies.

Therefore, we cannot literally talk about the treatment of lameness, but specifically about a given disease, the control of which will make the symptom of motor organ dysfunction disappear.

Therefore, we treat treatment in the article more generally, without discussing the therapeutic management of each specific disease.

Treatment of lameness can be considered in a symptomatic and causal context.

We know that if the animal is limping, it experiences discomfort and pain that restricts its movement, hence the need to combat these pathological conditions.

We cannot allow the animal to suffer unnecessarily, even when we put off treatment for a while.

So we should give a limping dog painkillers, the strength of which depends on the scale of pain and the condition.

Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs containing:

  • meloxam, e.g. Animeloxan, Loxicom, Melovem, Metacam, Rheumocam,
  • carprofen, e.g. Carprodyl, Ex-pain, Rimadyl, Scanodyl,
  • tolfenamic acid, e.g. Tolfedine,
  • mavacoxib, e.g. Trocoxil,
  • firocoxib, e.g. Previcox,
  • robenacoxib, e.g. Onsior,
  • cimecoxib, e.g. Cimalgex.

They are anti-inflammatory and analgesic, relieving the symptoms of discomfort associated with lameness and are often orally administered, which is convenient for the owner.

On the other hand, at home, an extremely important therapeutic recommendation is always to limit the animal's movement to the absolute minimum.

Failure to use the diseased limb in some cases, in less severe pathologies, can cure the lameness.

So we go out with the dog for a walk on a leash so that he takes care of his physiological needs and we do not let him run.

However, this is an ad hoc action and should not exempt us from the obligatory visit and orthopedic examination, so do not wait in the hope that it will pass by itself and do without treatment.

In the case of joint diseases that show symptoms of lameness, the caregiver's actions at home are also extremely important.

I mean the administration of dietary supplements containing chondroprotective substances (eg. glucosamine sulphate, chondroitin, hyaluronic acid) or taking care of maintaining a healthy body weight, which prevents obesity and excessive strain on the joints.

Symptomatic treatment must also include nutrition with an appropriate composition, or control of faeces and urine excretion in the event of lameness of the pelvic limbs and inability to meet physiological needs.

The causal treatment is extremely important because it should strive to remove the immediate cause of the lameness and thus lead to a cure.

In each case, it is slightly different, adapted to specific pathologies.

And so, for example:

  • In the case of abscesses, wounds, skin lesions, cutting the finger pads, it should facilitate the healing of damage, which is achieved by administering antibiotics or suturing damaged tissues, and then controlling the correctness of the wound healing process.
    We prevent the dog from licking stitches or a sore spot or joint.
  • In the case of bone fractures, we strive to create a stable, physiological growth, immobilizing the limb for a period of about 7-8 weeks after the previously stabilized damaged fragments of the broken bone with plaster, external stabilizers or various types of bone nails.
    For this purpose, we use one of the many complex methods and orthopedic techniques described in detail in textbooks in this field of knowledge.
    Remember that not only the possible surgical procedure itself is extremely important, but also the entire postoperative procedure, which, if carried out incorrectly, may destroy the entire effort associated with the procedure (e.g. controlling the movement of the animal).
  • In the case of arthritis, we try to make an antibiogram and on its basis we propose a specifically selected antibiotic targeted at a given pathogen.
  • We treat many pathologies surgically by removing the cause of the disease or minimizing its effects.
    This happens, for example, in the case of hip dysplasia, rupture of cruciate ligaments or dislocation of the patella.
  • In some cases, it is necessary to remove the source of the pain that is causing the lameness.
    This is the case, for example, in the case of neoplastic changes, when a diseased limb is amputated or a tumor originating from soft tissues is removed. However, these are drastic situations.

In most cases, after making an accurate diagnosis, it is possible to effectively treat or control pain symptoms, which translates into no symptoms of lameness.

We are not able to heal all disease conditions permanently and guarantee that the lameness will not come back over time.

Lameness in a dog associated with the lack of use of the limb can lead to very unfavorable long-term effects, such as muscle atrophy.

The limb that is not used, especially in the long run, leads to the atrophy of the muscles that build it.

Therefore, rehabilitation and all related treatments are of great importance here.

So, movement on a water treadmill, physical exercise for a trained therapist can significantly delay decay and significantly improve the way of moving.

Movement is an extremely important part of the treatment process, bringing tangible benefits in many disease states (e.g. in osteoarthritis).

I am aware that in the article I am not able to discuss in detail all methods of treating lameness in animals because there is no one constant and appropriate algorithm for all cases.

The topic is too extensive to describe it briefly, but I would like to draw your attention to the variety and complexity of treatment methods depending on the cause.


Why is the dog limping?

Lameness in various limbs in animals is a very common reason for consultations in veterinary offices and occurs practically at any age and in all breeds.

They do not avoid young, prime and very active animals, although most probably associate them with older animals.

My intention was to show you how many different causes can cause them, which also results in a specific, different causal treatment tailored to each case.

Lameness is, as we remember, only a clinical symptom and can never be treated as a disease.

It requires quick medical intervention because it gives pain symptoms and causes discomfort to the animal, but first of all, a thorough diagnosis of its cause.

Without it, permanent and effective treatment, which we all expect, is often impossible.

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