Leg deformity in dogs | Daily News

Leg deformity in dogs

Is your dog limping? Dogs of all ages can limp for a variety of reasons. The cause may be minor and resolve on its own, but others can be more serious and lead to permanent lameness or debilitating conditions such as arthritis. Therefore, it is important to work with your veterinarian to determine why your dog is limping. There are several bone-related diseases that can occur during your dog’s “growth spurt,” which is ongoing until the age of 2 years.

The leg bones and muscles of dogs grow up to age of 1-2 years. This is the period young dogs play a lot. Exercise helps the growth of bones and muscles but in other hand there is a danger while doing exercise. The owner should keep in mind the dog having immature bones and joint may leads to permanent damage if you allow the dog to do over exercise.

Keep in mind some dogs have longer boned while other dogs have short. Dogs have long bones can be divided in to two as dogs with lean body (German shepherd, Doberman) and heavy body (Rottweiler, Bullmastiff ). Also there are dogs with shorter body having short leg bones (Daschund, Spaniels, Pugs). In both case leg bones are very important while growing period to maintain the correct shape. Longer-limbed dogs are more likely to suffer deformities of the longer bones, whereas shorter-limbed dogs tend to develop more joint problems. The age of the animal when the deformity occurs will also affect the severity of the condition.

The following diseases are common causes of lameness in growing dogs:

1.Misshapen cartilage - The cartilage on the end of a bone in the joint develops abnormally and separates from the underlying bone. The shoulder joint is most commonly affected, but the elbow, hip, or knee (stifle) may also be involved. Sometimes a piece of cartilage breaks off and is floating loose in the joint often causes your dog some pain, which varies from mild, intermittent limping to intense, constant pain

2.“Growing pains” (inflammation) - This can impact more than one bone at a time, causing your dog to have a "shifting" lameness that goes from one bone or leg to another. Swelling, pain in the joints, fever, and loss of appetite are the most common symptoms. Because this is caused by rapid growth, it is self-limiting and treatment usually involves medication to alleviate the pain.

3.A developmental defect of a small piece of bone or cartilage – The common site is elbow. This condition can be very painful, especially when the elbow is extended. Dogs often lame and the condition can quickly develop into degenerative joint disease or arthritis. Surgery is required to treat and is most successful when completed before secondary arthritis affects the joint.

4.Displacement - This happens in the shoulder and hip joints due to deformity in the “ball and socket joint in that place. As a dog grows, both the ball and socket need to grow at similar rates resulting in the two not fitting together properly. This causes the joint to become loose or "out of place," causing lameness, pain, and secondary arthritis. This is considered to be a genital disease and is commonly found in large-breed dogs such as golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers, mastiffs, German shepherds and Rottweilers. Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be used for breeding. When a dog is plagued with severe hip dysplasia, he or she may have trouble going from a lying to standing position and may walk with a limp. Treating displacement, include various types of surgery and medication.


There are many potential causes for front leg deformities in dogs; some of the more common ones include:

Trauma: This is most common cause

Nutritional deficiency: This issue is becoming less prevalent in dogs as nutritional standards improve

 Congenital: This is rare in dogs; a dog with this form of deformity will have severely bowed front legs and a possible ankle dislocation

Symptoms and types

 Bowed and twisted front leg

 One leg is longer than the other

l Lameness (which is especially apparent after exercise)

l Complete unable to walk and even to stand up


Your veterinarian will do X-rays of the entire limb/s, to compare the lengths of the bones, and to determine whether the muscles are attached properly. Other signs the veterinarian may look for in the X-rays to confirm whether it is deformity, bone enlargement, inflammation of the entire bone structure, and flexor muscle spasms.


If your veterinarian determines that the deformity is due to a genetic predisposition, breeding of the dog will be discouraged.

If the deformity is due to an injury, however, your veterinarian will probably recommend surgery to repair the damage, removing any abnormal cartilage or bone and returning the joint to its normal function. If surgery is needed, special care will be necessary for several weeks after your dog is brought home, such as controlling it's lean body weight, monitoring its pain, and the prescription of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications. Therefore, it may be best to confine your pet in a cage to help limit any strenuous activity.

If the defect is due to nutritional imbalance the owner should provide the dog with a complete balanced diet

What can you do at home?

Before you selecting your pet dog it is better to observe the parents of the dog for any abnormality especially when you want to select German shepherd, Rotweiller, Doberman, Labrador and Golden retrievers.

 Also observe the gesture of the puppy of any limping, staggering gait, playing joints etc. As soon as you buy the puppy present it to a vet for further expert advice.

Give at least one diet of reputed dog food which is a balanced diet for dogs.

 De worm the dog frequently as the worms retard the growth of the puppy.

 Give vitamin A and D, calcium, phosphorus and selenium enriched supplements. There are lots of commercially available dog supplements in the market. Consult your vet for the best one and give your dog up to two years of age.

(The writer is a Veterinary Surgeon and holds B.V.Sc; M.Sc Poultry

Science; Master of Public Administration and Management)


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