Small toy dog at the veterinary after surgery.

You know your dog better than anyone, so it makes sense that you’d immediately notice any changes to their gait, behavior, and appearance. Orthopedic issues in dogs are among the most typical reasons for vet visits, in part because the culture of dog owners is becoming more active every year. What’s more, some breeds are genetically predisposed to problems affecting the musculoskeletal system. 

From Bad to Worse

Orthopedic issues in dogs can range between slightly painful to utterly wrenching. With limited mobility and decreased flexibility, afflicted dogs may experience other injuries associated with problems connected to their bones, joints, tendons, and ligaments, and even additional health conditions. 

A Healthy Lifestyle

There are some tradeoffs to promoting a healthy, active lifestyle. Many dogs will injure themselves during vigorous exercise activities, like Frisbee, hiking, or simply running with their human partner. What’s more, as dogs age the cartilage located between the bones in a joint may start to deteriorate (osteoarthritis). Orthopedic issues in dogs can lead to other health problems, or exacerbate related symptoms. 

There are various factors that cause or influence orthopedic issues in dogs, including:

  • Breed
  • Age
  • Previous injury or disease
  • Weight
  • Diet/nutrition
  • Lifestyle

Common Culprits

Knowing which orthopedic issues in dogs are the most common can help owners identify what’s causing certain symptoms. We work closely with dog owners to merge their observations with our advanced diagnostics. Depending on the situation, dogs may be treated with medication, physical therapy, nutritional changes, and/or orthopedic surgery. 

The following are the most common orthopedic problems facing dogs today:

  • Hip dysplasia affects many large breeds, like golden retrievers, labradors, and German shepherds. The symptoms can be treated with pain relievers and weight reduction strategies. 
  • Torn cruciate ligaments, or cranial cruciate ligament tear, such as the ACL (anterior cranial cruciate), can be surgically repaired to prevent long-term issues, like osteoarthritis, from creating pain and discomfort.
  • Luxating patella, or kneecap, can slip out of the groove inside the knee joint. This can be extremely painful in both large and small breeds, and may be complicated to fix.
  • Disc disease is characterized by ruptured discs in the spine. This is a medical emergency that requires immediate surgery to repair. Without intervention, severe pain and even paralysis can occur.

Treating Orthopedic Issues in Dogs

If you see any of the following symptoms, please contact us right away:

  • Any changes to posture or gait
  • Reluctance to move or be touched
  • Lethargy
  • Hiding/withdrawal
  • Straining to get up, move around, or lay down
  • Constant or intermittent lameness or limping
  • Behavioral changes, like increased irritability or aggression
  • Stiffness or decreased range of motion
  • Swollen joints
  • Paying extra attention to certain area, like excessive licking of the leg

Our team is happy to assist you with any questions or concerns about your dog’s behavior and appearance. If you observe any limping, pain, or mobility challenges, please give us a call at (603) 926‑7978.