We all love our pets and want them to be with us for as long as possible, so what do you do when your furry friend starts to lose his or her mobility? A loss of mobility can be the result of several different ailments and should be treated accordingly. If your pet has suddenly lost their mobility there are solutions out there that will help them get back on their paws in no time.

3 Common Causes For Loss Of Mobility

  • Leg deformities

  • Partial ligament tears

  • Patellar luxation

Leg Deformities

Leg deformities can come in a multitude of varieties, and occur for any number of reasons. Sometimes a dog’s leg bones can keep growing after the rest of its body has stopped, in these cases the bone will eventually bow or twist to account for the extra length. Some causes of leg deformities include trauma, osteochondrosis, and elbow malalignment syndrome.

The Most Common Types Of Leg Deformities:

1. Angular Limb Disorder (ALD)

ALD is the classified as a pathological abnormality in the spatial alignment of any limb. If you own a smaller dog, or have a dog that has been bred to have short legs, identifying ALD can be tricky. That is why it is important to maintain regular check ups with your vet. Some breeds have been bred to have a measure of ALD apparent in their stature, such breeds include Bulldogs, Shih Tzu, and Lhasa Apsos.

ALD can be treated through external or internal skeletal correction. ALD may be treated by cutting the deformed bones and then realigning them. Once realigned, the bones will be fixed in a new position with the use of internal or external pins. A lesser, non surgical alternative if ALD has yet to reach a critical point is the use of braces to realign the bone and to increase joint flexibility.

2. Carpal Hyperextension

Carpal Hyperextension is an injury that can occur after a joint or muscle has been extended beyond its normal range of motion. Typically, Carpal Hyperextension presents itself in the wrist (carpus) of dogs.  Braces are the ideal treatment for Carpal Hyperextension.

The Three Most Common Forms Of Carpal Hyperextension:

Carpal Hyperextension In Puppies

  • The first form of Carpal Hyperextension is found in puppies, usually in the front two wrists after birth. Puppies being affected by Carpal Hyperextension will over extend their paws while walking which will make them look bear-like. The back wrist can also be affected, but this is much less common.

Trauma Induced Carpal Hyperextension

  • When brought on by trauma, Carpal Hyperextension can range from minor swelling to lameness depending on the severity of the injury. After an accident your pup should be checked for any sprains or further damage to the wrist.

Degenerative Carpal Hyperextension

  • Commonly seen in collies, Degenerative Carpal Hyperextension is an ailment that traditionally affects older dogs. In the case of Degenerative Carpal Hyperextension, the wrist is prone to gradually sink until they completely collapse.

3. Elbow Dysplasia

Elbow Dysplasia is the most common cause of forelimb lameness in large and giant-breed dogs. Breeds that are particularly suitable include Labrador retrievers, Rottweilers, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Chow Chows, Collies, and Newfoundlands. Elbow Dysplasia is caused by the abnormal growth of cells, tissue, or bone.

While not always the case, Elbow Dysplasia can be diagnosed in puppies as young as four to 18 months of age. Acute Elbow Dysplasia can also occur in large breed dogs which is characterized by its sudden onset. Surgery is usually used to correct Elbow Dysplasia, but if your dog is not a surgical candidate elbow braces can be used to manage Elbow Dysplasia.

Partial Ligament Tears

If your dog suddenly starts limping or avoiding putting pressure on one leg, a partial ligament tear might be to blame. Partial ligament tears can be caused by sudden trauma or by repeated highly strenuous activity such as jumping for balls. Large breed dogs tend to suffer higher rate of partial ligament tears, additionally, overweight

Dogs At Risk For Partial Ligament Tears

  • Overweight dogs
  • Dog that were spayed or neutered too young
  • Large and giant breeds
  • Long legged dogs

Depending on their severity partial ligament tears can be treated by limiting mobility of the affected limbs. This can be achieved by using a brace to keep you pet from using their injured appendage. If the ligament tear is more advanced, surgery may be needed to correct the injury.

Luxating Patella

Put simply, Luxating patella means that your dog’s kneecap (patella) has been dislocated or shifted out of position (luxating/luxation). The causes of a luxated patella can either be genetic and/or traumatic.

Breeds That Are Predisposed To Patellar Luxation

  • Small Breeds: Miniature and Toy Poodles, Maltese, Jack Russell Terriers, Yorkshire Terriers, Pomeranians, Pekingese, Chihuahuas, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Papillons and Boston Terriers.
  • Large Breeds: Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Akitas, Malamutes, Boxers, Huskies and St. Bernards.

As with human and dislocated knees, every case is different. What might be a one time ordeal of one dog can turn out to be a chronic condition in another. Some dogs can live their lives with luxating their patella only once where for other dogs the threat of a luxated patella is constant. Dogs who do not have a backward facing patella are at a greater risk of injury. A common luxating patella can be treated with a stifle brace. This usually pertains to grade 1 or 2 luxations. Braces cannot control the patella directly, since the patella is such a small bone, but a brace can reduce the amount of luxation by preventing the ranges of motion where the luxation occur.  A more severe or chronically luxating patellar condition may require surgical intervention.  

There are many solutions to your dog’s new found loss of mobility. In most cases a loss of mobility does not need to be a permanent way of life. At Animal Ortho Care we specialize in providing the highest quality Orthotics and Prosthetics to assist your pet in regaining his/her quality of life. Our devices can be used to correct or accommodate the effects of trauma, illness or old age. Let our experts help you dog walk onto the road to recovery today.