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Most Common Orthopedic Problems & Injuries in Dogs

Most Common Orthopedic Problems & Injuries in Dogs

Dogs want to run, jump and race around outside but health issues affecting their bones, joints, tendons, or ligaments can stop these activities from being fun and instead make them painful. Here, our Zeeland vets outline four of the most common of these orthopedic health issues in dogs, what breeds most commonly develop them and how they can be treated.

Orthopedic health issues are a common reason for bringing dogs to the veterinarian. Orthopedic veterinary issues include any diseases, conditions, or injuries affecting the skeletal structures of your dog's body, including their bones, tendon, ligaments, cartilage, joints, and more.

While these kinds of health issues are relatively common in dogs of all shapes and sizes, certain breeds of dog may be predisposed to particular kinds of orthopedic health problems and large dogs tend to develop issues with their bones and joints in particular as they grow old since they have to carry around more weight.

Here are four of the most common orthopedic health issues that affect dogs in the Zeeland area.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia describes when one or more of your dog's hip joints form abnormally, causing them to grind against one another. Over time, this leads to their breakdown causing discomfort, pain, and eventual loss of mobility and function in the affected joints.

Hip dysplasia is a genetically inherited condition that is most often found in large to giant breeds of dogs, including retrievers, bulldogs, Rottweilers, mastiffs, and St. Bernards. While it is inherited, some factors affect hip dysplasia's development in dogs, including:

  • Weight
  • Nutrition
  • How quickly they grow
  • The kind of exercise they regularly participate in

Hip dysplasia is treated through orthopedic surgery designed to help restore the function and mobility of the affected hips. There are three options for surgical treatment of hip dysplasia: Femoral Head Osteotomy, A Double or Triple Pelvic Osteotomy, and a Total Hip Replacement. THR offers the best outcomes while FHO surgery is generally the lowest price point.

Torn Cruciate Ligament

Dogs can strain and even tear tendons or ligaments after too-vigorous exercise or repeated injury. The Cranial Cruciate Ligament, or CCL, is the canine equivalent to the ACL in people, connecting their shin to their thigh bone to allow the proper movement of their knee.

A serious injury like tearing your dog's CCL can happen in one of two ways. The first is suddenly and drastically through overexercise. The second is gradually over a period of time without resting to help the mildly injured ligament recover. If your dog continues to run and play with an injured ligament, it becomes likely that they will injure it further.

While this injury can happen to any dog who is overexerting themselves, research shows that certain breeds may be more likely to develop it than others. Like with Hip Dysplasia, large breeds are more likely to experience this injury, including Rottweilers, St. Bernards, Akitas, Newfoundland Dogs, Mastiffs, and Labrador retrievers.

Since CCL injuries don't naturally heal, surgical intervention is required to reduce your dog's pain and help them regain mobility. Your options include Extracapsular Lateral Suture Stabilization, Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy, and Tibial Tuberosity Advancement. While each of these surgeries do so differently, they all aim to stabilize your pet's knee joint, reduce tibial thrust and allow for them to move without pain.

Luxated Patella

The patella, or the kneecap, normally sites quite comfortably in a groove above your dog's knee between their femur and shin. Luxating refers to something being out of place or dislocated. When your dog is suffering from a luxating patella, their kneecap has been dislocated and you may notice them limping, skipping a step, or running on only three legs.

This injury is relatively common in many smaller breeds of dogs, like French Poodles, Bichon Frise, Chihuahuas, and Maltese, which all have some amount of genetic predisposition to dislocating their knees. This often is reflected in the location of the ligament that connects their patella to the rest of their leg, causing it to wear down and eventually allow it to dislocate inwards.

Depending on the severity (also known as the Grade of the condition), treatment may range from the prescription of anti-inflammatory medication to surgical intervention. Surgeries to treat a luxating patella may reconstruct soft tissues in the area to help keep the patella in place, deepening the groove the patella naturally sits in to keep it stationary or correcting abnormally shaped bones to reduce deformities.

Intervertebral Disc Disease

Intervertebral disc disease, also commonly called IVDD, is a disease affecting your dog's spine that appears in three types.

Type 1 involves the rupturing of a spinal disc anywhere in your dog's back, causing a sudden inability to walk most commonly seen in smaller dogs like dachshunds, Shih Tzus, toy poodles, beagles, and basset hounds.

Type 2 is a slower-acting bulging of the outer portion of your dog's spinal cord, compressing the spin and potentially causing a rupture like in Type 1. This form of IVDD is common in middle-aged medium-to-large dogs

Type 3 is a sudden tear in the outer part of the spine caused by excessive exercise or physical trauma.

Spinal surgery is a must when it comes to treating IVDD, although some very mild cases may be treatable through restricted movement and pain-management medications. Dogs with IVDD may never be able to walk again and have to rely on mobility devices to get around.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Worries about how your dog is moving? Is your dog showing pain in their movements? Contact our Zeeland vets to book an appointment for your dog to diagnosis them and see if is an orthopedic issue.

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