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Things You Did Not Know About Dog Joints

A healthy dog is usually one that is active. Dogs are generally known to like outdoor activities be it walking or running around in the park or a yard. Some dogs even go hiking with their owners.

 

In order to be able to live an active and healthy lifestyle, dogs need to have strong bones and joints. Since they are always on all fours, it is important for dog owners to ensure that their bones and joints are developing healthily by giving them proper diet and exercise. 

 

It is sometimes unavoidable for dogs to develop joint problems especially since some breeds are predisposed to suffering canine joint issues. Thus, it will be helpful for every dog owner to learn about this particular health issue in dogs in order to help them address it holistically and effectively. 

 

There are several types of canine joint issues that you probably didn't know about. The following list discusses canine joint problems that a majority of dog owners are not usually aware of. 


What is Legge-Calvé-Perthes Disease?

This condition is also known as aseptic necrosis of the femoral head and is usually seen in small or miniature breeds of dogs that are in their early years. Destruction of the bone’s blood vessels and lack of blood supply are among its features.

 

There is yet no known cause of this disease. However, among the Manchester Terrier breed, this is a hereditary condition. This disease starts with a sudden loss of blood flow to the femur, which leads to the top of the bone collapsing. Its effects are felt on both hip joints. 


Some of the symptoms of this disease include pain in the hip joint when in motion, gradual thinning and weakening of the thigh muscles, and lameness in the hindlimb. This condition is usually more easily confirmed through X-ray.

 

The treatments for this condition include removing the femoral head and neck through surgery as well as physical therapy in order to stimulate the use of the limbs. It is important that these procedures are complied with in order for dogs suffering from this condition to be able to recover. 


What is Osteochondrosis? 

This is another canine health issue of unknown origin. It affects medium and large dogs that usually grow quicker than smaller dogs. In this condition, the cartilage and bone formation is interrupted because the joint cartilage that has not yet matured breaks and detaches from the bone underneath.

 

The space created is filled with fluid, which creates the risk of cyst developing beneath the cartilage. Cartilage fragments may come off from the end of the bone and drift free in the joint cavity. Consequently, the affected joint becomes inflamed. This can further lead to arthritis as well as breaking down of the cartilage continuously, which, in turn, has a severe impact on the movement of the joint.

 

Although the exact cause of this condition is unknown, some of the possible factors that contribute to the development of this condition include high-growth diet, trauma, hereditary, and rapid growth. 


Among the symptoms of this condition are joint stiffness, lameness, and fluid buildup within the joint. This condition affects specific areas including the inside of the elbow joint, the ridges of the ankle joints, the head of the shoulder joint, and the stifle of the knee joints.

 

A dog suffering from this condition may be subjected to x-ray in order to find out the degree of the damage the disease caused. Joint or cartilage lesions may be identified through surgery, specifically, arthrography. Changes in the bone structure can be identified by subjecting the dog to a CT scan. 


What is Kneecap Displacement?

This condition is hereditary. It is when the kneecap develops abnormally and is associated with different deformities of the hindlimb, which involves the tibia, femur, and hip joint. Injuries in the ligament and cartilage of the knee can also result from this condition. Thus, dogs suffering from this disease either walk with a limp or cannot walk at all. 

 

The symptoms of this disease depend on how severe the displacement is. Among mild cases, a manually displaced kneecap can be easy to return to its normal position. It is characterized by intermittent and non-severe signs.

 

However, as the displacement develops into a severe state, the dislocated kneecap becomes out of place even more, the limb becomes consistently lame, and bone deformities will start to show.

 

In order to determine the extent of the severity of the kneecap’s displacement as well as its effects on the limb, the dog can be subjected to X-ray. 


A dog suffering from this condition may be subjected to surgery in order to get treated. In severe cases, the dogs may be amputated. Nevertheless, dogs diagnosed with mild or moderate kneecap displacement generally fully recover from it. 


What is Septic Arthritis?

A dog that is subjected to trauma with penetrating wounds or one that underwent surgery and suffers from infection or sepsis due to a bacteria penetrating the blood or entering the body may suffer from septic or infectious arthritis. This condition may also be caused by lyme disease or rickettsia. 


The symptoms of this disease include swelling, fever, loss of appetite, pain in the affected joint, stiffness, and listlessness. A dog suffering from this condition may be subjected to X-rays and laboratory tests.

 

The X-ray results may show an increase of fluid in the joint in cases detected early. In long term conditions, the X-ray results may reveal the degenerative joint disease. Meanwhile, the fluid removed from the joint that is subjected to laboratory tests is used to confirm the diagnosis. 


This condition may be treated with orally or intravenously administered antibiotics; removal of the damaged, dead, or infected tissue in severe cases, and flushing of the joint cavity. 


Can joint issues be prevented?

Canine joint problems are preventable. As earlier mentioned, the key is to give them a healthy diet and plenty of exercise. However, aside from these, you may also consult with your veterinarian if there are supplements that can help in keeping your dog’s bones and joints healthy.

 

Treatments for joint issues in dogs can be very expensive. Thus, investing in your dog’s health will help you save on the cost of possible surgery and post-surgery care and maintenance. 

Reviewed by

Laura Robinson, DMV

Dr Laura practices at the Antonio Animal Hospital in California, where she was born and raised. She is an advisor to Wuffes, ensuring all our products and content is of the highest standard

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