Our pets are our constant companions, they come with us on long hikes in the woods, down Main Street for some shopping, or to the local beach for some fun in the sun. But what happens when our pups can no longer come with us? If your dog starts slowing down or losing mobility, you’ll find yourself looking for causes and solutions to get your pup back on its feet. Animal Ortho Care is here to make sure that your pup stays active, mobile, and by your side.

A loss of mobility can happen to dogs both young and old, and causes can range from a traumatic accident to wearing of the joints due to old age. Understanding the different causes of mobility loss can help you plan for you pup’s future. Below we have outlined some of the most common causes of a loss of mobility, but it should be noted that some conditions have not been listed. If your dog starts to show signs of mobility loss, it is important to take him or her to the vet to be diagnosed appropriately.

1. Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL)

The Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) is similar to the ACL in humans. The CCL keeps your dog’s tibia in place beneath the femur while stabilizing the knee joint. Common causes for CCL injuries include strenuous activity, advanced age, and obesity. CCL injuries can range in severity from a partial tear to a rupture. Symptoms of a partial tear can include your dog holding its leg at a bent angle when standing, and limping. If sudden lameness occurs, that would indicate a torn CCL.

Breeds At A Higher Risk For Ligament Tears

  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Newfoundlands
  • German Shepherds
  • Rottweilers
  • Golden retrievers

Dogs At Risk

Obese dogs who are primarily sedentary that receive bouts of exercise infrequently are much more likely to sustain CCL injuries than other, more active dogs. Additionally, dogs who are neutered too early have a higher risk of sustaining a CCL injury. Studies have shown that dogs who are spayed or neutered before 12 months of age are more prone to develop CCL conditions later in life.

CCL Solutions

Minor tears may heal themselves naturally over the course of a few weeks. Icing your dog’s wounded joint will help with swelling and pain management. More severe tears may require the use of braces or surgical intervention. CCL ruptures will need to be surgically corrected.

2. Patellar Luxation

Luxation means “A dislocation of an anatomical part, such as a bone or joint.” The Patellar is a dog’s kneecap, so together, a patellar luxation is a knee dislocation. A patellar luxation can be the result of either a genetic predisposition or a sudden trauma. Typically, small breeds are predisposed to patellar luxation issues. Additionally, female dogs are 1 ½ times more likely to sustain a patellar luxation.

Small Breeds At Risk For Patellar Luxations

  • Miniature and Toy Poodles
  • Maltese
  • Jack Russell Terriers
  • Yorkshire Terriers
  • Pomeranians
  • Pekingese
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
  • Papillons
  • Boston Terriers

In some cases, a patellar luxation can be a one-time occurrence, whereas other dogs can suffer from chronic patellar luxation. Typically dogs only experience pain when the kneecap is sliding over the thigh bone, meaning that while they are suffering from a patellar luxation, some dogs may not exhibit typical signs of stress such as whining. Dogs suffering from a patellar luxation will exhibit one of the following symptoms: skipping, hindlimb lameness, or sudden lameness.

Patellar Luxation Solutions

Most cases of patellar luxation require medical treatment, either in the form of surgical intervention or by the use of braces. Just like with humans, each injury is different. If you suspect that your dog’s loss of mobility is due to a patellar luxation, we recommend you bring him or her in to see a vet for diagnosis and treatment.

3. Arthritis

The two forms of Arthritis that most commonly affect our pets are Osteoarthritis and Infectious Arthritis. Osteoarthritis, also known as Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD), is a gradual, lifelong deterioration of the cartilage around the joints. If your pup is suffering from Osteoarthritis, he or she may exhibit symptoms including lameness, lessened mobility, and activity, or stiffness in his or her gait. Infectious Arthritis on the other hand, can affect dogs both young and old and comes on more suddenly. If only a single joint is being affected, it is likely that the source of the Infectious Arthritis came from an infected wound. If multiple joints are affected, then the cause is most likely bacteria from an active infection that has been carried to the joints through the bloodstream.

Arthritis can affect any dog, but some breeds are more susceptible, including:

  • German Shepherds
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Dachshunds
  • Newfoundlands
  • Bernards
  • Rottweilers
  • Mastiffs
  • Great Danes
  • Old English Sheep Dogs

Arthritis Solutions    

Arthritis can be treated through surgical intervention or through supplemental and lifestyle adjustments. Those who treat Arthritis at home traditionally try one of the following options. It is important to speak with your vet before starting any home treatment for your dog’s Arthritis.

  • Steroids
    • Steroids are sometimes used to treat Arthritis by reducing swelling and inflammation.
    • Caution: steroids can cause further joint deterioration in the long run.
  • Non-Steroid Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
    • NSAIDs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, Rimadyl, and Etogesic can be used to reduce inflammation.
    • Caution: NSAIDs may cause bleeding disorders, gastric ulcers, and liver or kidney dysfunction.
  • Nutraceuticals
    • Nutraceuticals are more natural supplemental alternative to traditional anti-inflammatory drugs. The most popular nutraceuticals include glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate. It should be noted that Nutraceuticals can take anywhere from weeks to months to start having a noticeable effect on your dog’s mobility.

4. Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia is one of the most common causes of a loss in mobility in dogs. Your dog’s hip is made of a ball and a socket. Hip Dysplasia occurs when the hip joint has failed to develop normally which then leads to a loss of function in the hip joint. Certain breeds are more susceptible to Hip Dysplasia than others.

Breeds Prone To Hip Dysplasia

  • Great Danes
  • Saint Bernards
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • German Shepherds
  • Golden Retrievers

Hip Dysplasia can occur when a dog is young or old. When young, Hip Dysplasia can start to develop around the age of four months or, Hip Dysplasia can first start to appear when a dog is older. The later form of Hip Dysplasia is usually brought on in conjunction with Osteoarthritis. The younger version of Hip Dysplasia is characterized by joint looseness or laxity, whereas the older version of Hip Dysplasia is characterized by joint degeneration and Osteoarthritis. Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia include decreased activity, difficulty rising, a reluctance to run, jump, or play, intermittent or persistent hindlimb lameness, or a swaying gait.

Hip Dysplasia Solutions

If you suspect that your pup is suffering from Hip Dysplasia it is important that you take him or her in to see a vet immediately. The severity of your dog’s Hip Dysplasia will determine his or her treatment plan. Some severe cases of Hip Dysplasia can require Hip Dysplasia, but dogs who are older or have preexisting medical conditions may not be surgical candidates. Non-surgical alternatives can include exercising, weight control, braces, or anti-inflammatory drugs. Whatever plan you and your vet decide on it is important to stick to it to the letter.

Get Your Pup Back On Its Feet With Animal Ortho Care

At Animal Ortho Care we believe that a loss of mobility doesn’t need to be the end of the road for your pup. Our hard working team is constantly working on new technologies to help keep pets where they belong, happy and healthy at your side. From braces to prosthetics we have an entire catalog of products specifically made to help keep your dog mobile. Our products can be custom tailored to fit your pet’s needs. Let us help your best friend onto the road to recovery today.