BONE DISEASES OF GROWING DOGS
I have a
young dog that has been limping for several days. Could this be
There are many
causes of limping and lameness in young dogs. Most of these are
relatively minor and will resolve without medical or surgical
intervention. However, there are also causes that are more serious
and, if not treated promptly, may result in permanent lameness
and/or arthritis. The large breeds of dogs (i.e., whose adult weight
is over 60 pounds) have several bone diseases that occur during the
period of rapid growth (up to 2 years of age). Because of the
possibility of permanent lameness, we recommend an accurate
diagnosis if lameness lasts more than two weeks. X-rays are
performed to diagnose the cause of lameness. Several radiographs are
often necessary in order to get an accurate look at various bones
and joints. In most cases, this will require a short-acting
anesthetic in order to get the positioning that is necessary.
diseases are common causes of lameness in growing puppies:
Rear legs only
Dysplasia is an improper formation of the hip joint(s). The hip
joint is a “ball and socket” joint. Hip dysplasia results in the
ball not being round, the socket not being deep, and the two not
fitting together properly. Hip dysplasia has two common causes,
genetic and diets. A dog of the high-risk breeds for hip dysplasia
should not be bred before radiographs of the hips are taken.
Large-breed puppies should be fed a special diet to help reduce the
risk of hip dysplasia.
Dogs with severe
hip dysplasia have great difficulty going from a lying to a standing
position and are in pain when they walk. Dogs with mild hip
dysplasia may show no signs of lameness. However, as the dog ages it
will usually experience difficulty rising and may be reluctant to
run and play. There are several choices of treatment depending on
the severity. Some dogs can be treated with medication while others
will require surgery.
Front legs only
Elbow Dysplasia is a lack of fusion of the top of the ulna at
the rear point of the elbow. This is more properly termed
ununited anconeal process. When this part of the ulna does not
fuse, the joint is unstable and is quickly subject to arthritis.
Dogs with this disease are lame on the affected leg(s) and they may
cry when the elbow is extended. Treatment requires surgery. The
results are much better if surgery is done before secondary
arthritis affects the joint(s).
Fractured Coronoid Process is the fracture of a small process
(boney protrusion) on the radius within the elbow joint. When this
process fractures, pain and joint instability result. Unless surgery
is done promptly after the fracture occurs, return to normal use of
the leg is unlikely.
Front or rear
is an inflammation on the surface of the long bones. This is also
termed "long bone" or "growing pains." This may occur in more than
one bone at a time and may cause lameness in one bone or leg and
then another. It is self-limiting but may recur until rapid growth
is over. The pain may be relieved with several types of medication.
Osteochondrosis dissecans (OD or OCD) is a defect in the smooth
cartilage surface within one or more joints. It most commonly
affects the shoulder joint but the elbow, hip, knee, or the stifle
may also be involved. Some of these defects may heal with strict
rest and restriction of activity for several weeks. Most cases of
OCD result in a piece of cartilage breaking off and floating freely
in the joint. This causes pain, which varies from mild, intermittent
limping to intense, constant pain. Surgery to remove the defective
cartilage is the recommended treatment in this case.
Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy (HOD) is inflammation in the
growth plates of the long bones. It usually causes swelling and pain
in the joints, which may lead to fever and loss of appetite. It is
self-limiting in most dogs with no permanent damage. However, some
dogs may suffer permanent damage to the growth plates resulting in
deformed legs. Treatment is with medication to relieve the pain and
suppress the inflammation.