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This Months March News Letter
In Pet Wellness:
"Musculoskeletal Problems in Dogs"
Dogs are more prone than cats to diseases of the bones, joints and muscles,
partly, because some of the most severe canine joint problems are hereditary.
Also the physical size and structure of the domestic dog breeds varies widely
and in some cases unusual stresses and stains are placed on structures
ill-equipped to handle them.
The signs of musculoskeletal disease can be obvious, such
as swelling or lameness, but can also be quite subtle. For example, elderly
dogs with degenerative arthritis may simply become less active or climbing
Hernias (Abdominal , Perineal or Inguinal)
These are caused by a weakening of muscles and a corresponding protrusion
of organs or tissue. These can be present from birth in the abdominal are
(umbilical hernias) or can occur in later in the perineal (between the anus
and genitals) and inguinal (groin) areas.
Hernias cause swelling in the areas they affect. If an organ is trapped within
the hernia, other sings will appear. For example, it a perineal hernia entraps
the bladder, the dog may strain to urinate. Entrapped organs require immediate
life-saving surgery. If there are no entrapped organs, surgery to correct
the hernia is still necessary and can be scheduled at the owner's convenience.
Neutering decreases the recurrence of perineal hernias.
This can indicate a variety of problems. If a dog's leg seems unable to bear
weight, it if crooked or shortened or swelled, or if you can feel bone rubbing
on bone, it may be broken. Seek a Veterinarian right way. Likewise if there
is a sudden lameness or weakness in both hind legs, as the dog may be suffering
from a dislocated disc in the back, instability in the neck bones or pelvic
fracture. Lameness can be caused by something as easily treatable as tar,
paint, or a laceration in the foot pad or between the digits. Clean away any
foreign substance with cooking or baby oil (not turpentine or other harsh
paint-removing chemicals). If there is a laceration, apply direct pressure
with a gauze pad or clan cloth to top the bleeding, then clean the wound with
soap and water. If the laceration is shallow, clean and treat it with an antibiotic
ointment daily. If signs of infection (redness, swelling or discharge) develop
or if the laceration is deep,
you're your veterinarian right away.
This is a painful malformation of the hip joint that has been diagnosed in
almost all breeds of dogs but is most common in large breeds. The condition
is caused by many inherited traits, including poor position and weak attachment
of the ball of the hipbone in the hip socket and insufficient muscle mass
in the hip area. Overfeeding a puppy can contribute to the problem because
extra weight stresses the hips. Dogs with hip dysplasia develop varying degrees
of lameness. In some the hip joint may be obliterated, whereas in others there
may be only a small change in the ball and socket joint. Early diagnosis by
X-ray is helpful. Dysplasia of the elbow joint is also relatively common.
Treatment depends on the severity of the condition; surgery is sometimes recommended.
To prevent hip dysplasia, make sure that affected dogs and carriers do not
breeed. All dogs should have their hips x-rayed and then evaluated by the
Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) or PennHip prior to breeding.
This is pain in the leg bones, most commonly occurs in young male German
shepherds but can develop in other fast-growing large breeds puppies as well.
The condition is diagnosed with x-rays; medication can alleviate the pain.
Fortunately, dogs usually outgrow panosteitis by twenty of months of age.
Osteochrondritis Sissecans (OCD)
This is a defect in the cartilage which usually is in the shoulders, but
sometimes in the elbow, knee or hock and afflicts large and giant breeds such
as the Great Dane, Golden Retriever and the Rottweiler. Limping is the most
obvious sign. X-rays are helpful in diagnosing the condition. The best treatment
is surgical removal
of the defective cartilage and joint fragment.
Anterior Cruciate Rupture
An anterior cruciate rupture happens when the anterior ligament, which prevents
the bones in the knee joint from rubbing together, becomes stretched or torn
during exercise or more commonly from stress on the joints in older, obese
dogs. Immediately following the injury the dog will be reluctant to sue the
affected leg. After several weeks the dog may begin to use it again. However,
without treatment, most affected dogs will develop arthritis in the knee and
become permanently lame. Anterior cruciate rupture is best treated with surgery,
but some dogs do well with anti-inflammatory drugs, limitation of exercise
to walks on a leash and restriction from stair use for six to eight weeks.
Degenerative Joint Disease
This is when the joint movement is disrupted, cartilage breaks down and the
bone structure is reshaped in a painful way. The main sign is lameness that
worsens after inactivity and that sometimes improves after a light walk. Dogs
that suffer from degenerative joint disease may be given dietary supplementation
to help the cartilage in the joints replenish itself and sometimes anti-inflammatory
drugs to reduce the pain.
This is a bacterial or fungal bone infection caused by direct penetration
of the bone itself (a bite, gunshot wound, or open fracture), an extension
of tooth and gun disease into the surrounding bone or the spread of an infection
through the bloodstream from elsewhere in the body. Symptoms include pain,
swelling, and redness around the affected area; loss of appetite; lethargy
and lameness if a limb is involved. Dogs with chronic osteomyelitis may also
suffer muscle atrophy and enlarged lymph nodes. If osteomyelitis is not treated,
the bone is likely to fracture. Treatment usually involves one or more of
Antibiotics,. surgically draining the infected area, removing any bone that
has not blood supply and stabilizing any fracture. Sometimes amputation is
This is a compression of nerve roots through the lower back. Dogs can be
born with it or they can develop it later in life as part of a degenerative
process caused by another condition. Middle-aged or older large breed dogs
have a higher incidence than other breeds. Signs are hind limb lameness and
back pain (the dog dislikes being touched on the back and is reluctant to
move, stands rigidly with back arched, and may cry out while moving or when
touched), muscular atrophy of the hind limb toenails, reluctance to jump,
difficulty climbing stairs, loss of bowel or urine control and excessive chewing
on the tail or the side of the hind feet. Treatment usually involves confining
the dog to a crate and administering non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs
for four to six weeks. Surgery may be needed if the dog's condition does not
This is a dislocation of the knee cap and Legg-Perthes disease (degeneration
of the head of the femur) are found primarily in smaller breeds such as Jack
Russell terriers and toy and miniature poodles. Both conditions can be diagnosed
with a physical exam and x-rays. With patellar luxation, the kneecap may slip
in and out of place so the dogs limps intermittently on the hind leg. Surgery
is almost always necessary. Legg-Perthes may affect on or both hind legs.
Medical treatment may be attempted first, but surgery is usually required.
As always your Veterinarian is the best source of
treatment for questions or problems that may exist.
If you have any suggestions or comments or would like
to add to our "Monthly Newsletter",
mailto: CaroleMiller@In-Memory-Of-Pets.com>> Carole
mailto: JohnMingo@In-Memory-Of-Pets.com>> John
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Bless all who come to "In Memory Of Pets" in sharing loving feelings
for their beloved ones.
John, Carole and Staff
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