Skip to Main Content Ask About Financing

Common Orthopedic Conditions & Problems Seen in Dogs

Our canine companions love to run and play but the fun can come to an abrupt halt if your dog is struck by a painful orthopedic injury. Today our Seattle vets discuss 4 common orthopedic conditions in dogs.

Conditions & Injuries That Affect Your Dog's Skeletal Structures

Our Seattle vets often see dogs due to orthopedic issues, but what health concerns are considered orthopedic?

Diseases, conditions or injuries that affect your dog's skeletal structures fall under the umbrella of orthopedic issues. That includes conditions or injuries affecting their bones, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, joints, and more. 

While it's true that these kinds of health issues are common in dogs of all shapes and sizes, certain breeds do tend to be predisposed to specific kinds of orthopedic health problems. Large dogs, for example, tend to develop issues with their bones and joints as they grow old since they have to carry around more weight. 

Below are four of the most common orthopedic health issues that pet parents should be aware of. 

Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Hip dysplasia describes when one or more of your pup's hip joints form abnormally, causing the ball and socket portions of the joint to grind against one another. Over time, this leads to their breakdown—causing discomfort, pain and eventual loss of mobility and function in the affected joints.

Hip dysplasia is typically a genetically inherited condition and is most often seen in large and giant breeds dog, such as retrievers, bulldogs, Rottweilers, mastiffs and St. Bernards. While it is inherited, some factors can accelerate hip dysplasia's development, including obesity, poor nutrition, how quickly the dog grows and the types of exercise the dog participates in. 

Orthopedic surgery for hip dysplasia is designed to help restore the normal function of your dog's hip and return pain-free mobility. There are three options for surgical treatment of hip dysplasia, each with their own unique benefits: Femoral Head Osteotomy, A Double or Triple Pelvic Osteotomy and a Total Hip Replacement. THR offers the best outcomes while FHO surgery is generally the lowest price point. 

CCL Injuries - Torn Cruciate Ligament 

Much like people who overdo exercise or experience repeated injuries, our dogs can strain and even tear their tendons or ligaments. The Cranial Cruciate Ligament, or CCL, is the canine equivalent to the ACL in people, connecting their shin to their thigh bone to allow the proper movement of their knee. 

Cruciate injuries can occur suddenly and dramatically through over exercising, or gradually over a period of time without resting to help the mildly injured ligament recover. If your pup continues to run and play with an injured ligament, it becomes likely that they will injure it further. Dogs with a cruciate injury in one leg typically go on to injure the other soon afterwards, leading to severe mobility issues.

While this injury can happen to any dog, research indicates that certain breeds may be more likely to develop cruciate injuries than others. As with hip dysplasia, giant and large breeds such as Irish wolfhounds, Rottweilers, St. Bernards, Akitas, Newfoundland Dogs, Mastiffs and Labrador retrievers are more likely to experience cruciate injuries.  

Since cruciate injuries don't naturally heal on their own, surgical intervention is required to reduce your pup's pain and help them regain mobility. Surgical options include Extracapsular Lateral Suture Stabilization, Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy and Tibial Tuberosity Advancement. While each of these surgeries address the injury in a different manner, they all aim to stabilize your pet's knee joint, reduce tibial thrust and allow for them to move without pain.

Luxated Patella - A Moving Kneecap

The patella, or the kneecap, normally sites quite comfortably in a groove above your dog's knee between their femur (thigh bone) and shin. Luxating refers to something being out of place or dislocated. When your dog is suffering from a luxating patella, their kneecap has been dislocated and you may notice them limping, skipping a step or running on only three legs. 

This knee injury is fairly common in smaller breeds of dog, such as French Poodles, Bichon Frise, Chihuahuas and Maltese, which all have some amount of genetic predisposition to dislocating their knees. Often this is reflected in the location of the ligament that connects their patella to the rest of their leg, causing it to wear down and eventually allow it to dislocate inwards. 

Depending on the condition's severity (also known as the Grade of the condition), treatment may range from the prescription of anti inflammatory medication to surgical intervention. Surgeries to treat a luxating patella may reconstruct soft tissues in the area to help keep the patella in place, deepening the groove the patella naturally sits in to keep it stationary, or correcting abnormally shaped bones to reduce deformities. 

Intervertebral Disc Disease - IVDD in Dogs

Intervertebral disc diseases, also commonly called IVDD, is a disease affecting your dog's spine that occurs in one of three ways. IVDD is a degenerative condition that can be contributed to by body types such as short and curved legs. Any pup with those characteristics will be more likely to develop IVDD than others.

  • Type 1 involves the rupturing of a spinal disc anywhere in your dog's back, causing a sudden inability to walk. Type 1 IVDD is most often diagnosed in smaller dogs with long spines such as dachshunds, shih tzus, toy poodles, beagles and basset hounds. It can also appear in medium and larger dogs too though.
  • Type 2 is incredibly common in middle-aged medium-to-large dogs.  Type 2 IVDD is a slower-acting bulging of the outer portion of your pup's spinal cord, compressing the spin and potentially causing a rupture.
  • Type 3 is a sudden tear in the outer part of the spine caused by excessive exercise or physical trauma.

Spinal surgery is the only option when it comes to treating IVDD, although some very mild cases may be treatable through restricted movement and pain-management medications. Dogs with IVDD may never be able to walk again and have to rely on mobility devices to get around.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your dog is showing signs of an orthopedic condition or injury veterinary care is essential. Our team at Northgate Veterinary Clinic is here to help! Contact our Seattle vets today to book an examination for your pup. 

Caring for Pets in Seattle

Northgate Veterinary Clinic welcomes new and existing clients to our veterinary clinic.

Contact Us

Contact (206) 363-8421