Skeletal Deformities in Dogs: Symptoms and Diagnosis

What is It?

Skeletal deformities are any abnormal bone growth or bone degeneration.

What Causes It?

Skeletal deformities can be congenital and even desired. Chondrodysplasia or canine dwarfism is the condition that causes many breeds to have long torsos and short limbs. Skeletal deformities can also be a sign of trauma, obesity, or degeneration. Some of the most common forms of this erosion include shoulder degeneration, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, knee dysplasia, and osteoarthritis.

Often these conditions are brought on by abnormal growth during puppy years. However, they are also a result of trauma, and excessive strain due to obesity. Obesity forces joints to work overtime often causing the bones and cartilage to grind together and overtime wear away.

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What Are The Symptoms?

Chondrodysplasia symptoms: Shorten limbs with normal sized head and torso, protruding toes, bowed hind legs

Degenerative symptoms: Abnormal gait, lameness, swelling of joints, refusal to play or exercise, cracking sound in joints, legs twisting at angles.

Is it Life Threatening?

No. Depending on the condition skeletal deformities can cause significant levels of pain.

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How is It Diagnosed?

A vet will perform a physical exam and a medical history questionnaire. An x-ray, CT scan or MRI will give your vet a better picture of what is going on with your dog’s bones, joints, and cartilage.

What Are The Treatments?

The treatment for skeletal deformities will vary greatly. Chondrodysplasia breeds will likely only need to have owners that understand the limitations of having a dog with short limbs, like minimizing jumping from heights to reduce the amount of impact on the spine.

Dogs with other degenerative conditions may need joint supplements, anti-inflammatories, and corrective surgery.

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 pup’s condition, please make an appointment with your veterinarian. Or, consult a virtual vet here.