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Common Orthopedic Problems in Dogs

You love to watch your dog run around living their best life but unfortunately, health issues affecting their bones, joints, tendons, or ligaments can bring that to a halt. Here, our Hoquiam vets share four of the most common of these orthopedic health issues in dogs, what the signs are and how they can be treated.

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

Orthopedic problems in dogs are common for 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 problems that affect dogs in the Hoquiam area. 

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia describes when one or more of your pup'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 orthopedic problem most commonly found in giant breeds of dog, including retrievers, bulldogs, Rottweilers, mastiffs and St. Bernards. While it is inherited, some factors and affect hip dysplasia's development in dogs, including weight, nutrition, how quickly they grow and the kind of exercise they regularly participate in. 

Hip dysplasia is treated through orthopedic surgery designed to help restore the function and mobility of your pup's affected hips. There are three options for surgical treatment of hip dysplasia, each with their own unique benefits: 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 that are consistently participating in intense exercise or if they repeatedly experience injuries, they can strain and even tear tendons or ligaments. 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. It is important that your dog doesn't continue to use an injured limb as this can cause further and even irreversible damage.

While this injury can happy 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 pup'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 refers to the kneecap which normally sits perfectly within 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, then their kneecap has been dislocated and your dog will be struggling to use the affected leg.

The smaller breeds of dogs such as French Poodles, Bichon Frise, Chihuahuas and Maltese may more commonly see these injuries as they 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 of this condition, treatment may range from the prescription of antiinflammatory 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. Type 2 is a slower-acting bulging of the outer portion of your pup's spinal cord, compressing the spin and potentially causing a rupture like in Type 1. Type 3 is a sudden tear in the outer part of the spine caused by excessive exercise or physical trauma.

IVDD is seen in all sizes of dogs. Type 1 is most commonly seen in smaller dogs like dachshunds, shih tzus, toy poodles, beagles and basset hounds. It can also appear in medium and larger dogs too though. Type 2 is incredibly common in middle-aged medium-to-large dogs. IVDD is a degenerative condition that can be contributed to by body types such as short and curved legs. Any pup with those characteristics will be more likely to develop IVDD than others.

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.

Are you concerned that your dog may be developing an orthopedic health problem? Contact our Hoquiam veterinarians to schedule an examination for your dog today.

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Raintree Veterinary Center is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Hoquiam companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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300 Myrtle St Hoquiam WA 98550 US


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