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Dogs & Puppies : Health & Vet Care Last Updated: Oct 25th, 2006 - 08:57:26

Bone, joint, and muscle problems
By Chester Duke
Feb 12, 2006, 21:28

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Your dog’s body is built to enhance massive endurance and agility.  His hind legs have great, powerful muscles, that allow him to get instant acceleration and help maintain speed.  For this reason, you need to make sure that he is not suffering from any kind of bone, joint, and muscle disorder that can cause lameness, pain, or paralysis.  Give your dog a regular home check up and look for any signs of injury to the limbs, such as swelling or tenderness to the touch.  Hind leg lameness can be due to one of the following problems:  Hip dysplasia, Perthe’s disease, luxating patella, and ruptured cruciate ligament.

Hip dysplasia is an inherited defect that affects more frequently among large breeds.  This type of disorder causes pain as well as lameness to one or both hind legs which gets worse when the leg is flexed.  A similar pain occurs when the head of the femur loses its blood supply and “dies”.  This hip pain is caused by a type of disorder called Perthe’s disease, or avascular necrosis and is more common in small breeds.  In addition, small breeds are prone to another type of inherited defect called luxating patellas, or slipped kneecaps, while all breeds can suffer from ruptured cruciate ligaments.  In both cases, weight is not carried on the affected hind leg.  There is no pain associated with either problem other than at the time when the ligament tears.

You need to consult a vet to find out the exact cause of lameness.  Often times, mild cases of hip dysplasia respond well to medications and proper rest, while more severe problems need surgical correction.  With Perthe’s disease, the “dead” head of the femur has to be surgically removed.  Luxating patellas can also be surgically corrected.  Cruciate ligaments most likely rupture in overweight, mature dogs, although some types of lean, young dogs such as Boxers can also tear these ligaments.  Weigh reduction, enough rest, and surgical repair are necessary to treat this problem.

Paralysis is often caused by ruptured disks.  Mildly ruptured disks cause intense pain to which the dog is reluctant to move.  On the other hand, greater slippage causes a partial or even complete paralysis, eliminating movement and the dog’s perception of pain. 

If the slippage is severe, the dog will need immediate surgery in order to reduce the damage to his spinal cord.  In addition, total and complete rest is very important in healing this type of disorder.

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