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Canine Juvenile Orthopedic Diseases

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If your puppy acts ill, is lethargic, limping, or acts painful, it needs to be seen by a veterinarian promptly.  A history and examination may help to narrow the possibilities, but radiographs (x-rays) will probably be needed, and blood and urine tests may be required as well.

Discuss the diagnostic tests needed, then consult with your veterinarian on the treatment options.  Your veterinarian can help you and your puppy back to his running and playing status!

Puppies are happy and full of energy, running, wrestling, and playing so much that we often wish we had that much energy! But when that puppy is not happy, when it is lethargic and limping, then a visit to the veterinarian is in order.  There are several orthopedic diseases that affect young dogs. 

Osteochondrosis (OCD) is one of the more common juvenile orthopedic disorders.  This is a problem that has an unknown cause but results in a disturbance of an area of cartilage and the underlying bone.  This may cause limping, or it may progress to the point where the puppy is non weight bearing if the chip of cartilage and bone breaks off and starts floating around in the joint.  Shoulders are the most commonly affected joint  (75% of cases), but it can also affect the elbow, knee, or hock.  This is a disease of large breed, older puppies.  Males are twice as likely to be affected than females.  Surgery is usually required.

Panosteitis is another common orthopedic disorder of puppies.  This also has an unknown cause, but here the problem is edema inside of the long bones where the bone marrow lies.  A hallmark of this disease is called shifting leg lameness, because different legs can be affected at different times.  The puppy may be limping on the right front leg this month, then two months later be limping on the left rear leg.  Older, large breed puppies are affected, but here males are four times more likely to be affected than females.  Treatment is pain control and anti-inflammatory medications.  The good news is there are no long term adverse effects of this disease, and eventually the disease just disappears.

Legg-Perthes disease is another orthopedic disease of older puppies, but this time small breeds are more likely to be affected, and females and males are equally affected.  For an unknown reason, there is a disruption of blood flow to the head of the femur (thigh bone) which causes the death of some bone cells.  When x-rays are taken, this bone in the hip looks like it is dissolving.  These bony changes cause pain, and the treatment is a very successful surgery called a femoral head ostectomy (FHO).  This removes the whole femoral head and the dog creates a false hip joint. 

Elbow dysplasia is becoming more common.  This is a syndrome of large breed, older puppies. There are actually a number of problems that can occur in the elbow, and any one or a combination can lead to the arthritis that we call elbow dysplasia.  OCD as we discussed before can occur in the elbow.  Ununited anconeal process (UAP) and fragmented medial coronoid process (FCP) are other developmental problems.  All these disorders require surgery or a debilitating arthritis is likely to occur.

Hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD) is a very rare disease of large breed puppies, usually two to eight months of age.  The puppy will be lethargic, painful, and may have a fever.  The ends of the affected long bones will have a characteristic pattern on an x-ray.  These puppies may recover fully, may recover but with some deformities, or may die from the disease.   

There are a number of other, less frequently seen, diseases that can cause limping in puppies: Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, meningitis, and immune- mediated polyarthritis.  But undoubtedly, the most common cause of lameness in puppies is, of course, trauma, as puppies can be wild and crazy!

References:
www.veterinarysurgerycenter.com
www.stvetspecialists.com

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Testimonials

  •           8/29/2017

    I love Balboa Pet Hospital! Balboa Pet Hospital's staff is amazing! The staff is knowledgeable, caring and above all honest! I feel confident that my pets are getting the best possible care there. The staff has always taken time to answer all of my questions and if I think of something after my appointment, I can just email! I know I won’t have to wait too long for response.

    Unfortunately, this year I’ve had to make some really difficult decisions. The compassion the staff showed to both my pet and I made these unbearable times tolerable. I am indebted to both Dr. Del Rosso and (the wonderful) Dr. Ravn for their kindness, compassion and dedication.

    If you are new to the area or just looking for a new vet, please give Balboa pet Hospital a call!

  •           6/5/2017

    LOVE everything about this place!!! The people are all super nice & caring. I never feel like they’re trying to sell me stuff I don’t need. The vets (especially Dr. Alice Chan) are wonderful, I always fee; comfortable coming here whenever Walle has an issue. They even help me file the insurance claims after each visit! Would highly recommended any pet owners to see them for their fur-baby needs.

  •           6/5/2017

    My dog has been a regular patient since 7 years ago. Once in a while we visit other hospitals due to time conflicts. However, we always go back to Balboa Pet Hospital. My dog has bad allergy and the doctors and assistants always follow up with us after the treatments or visits, help us submit the insurance claims. It’s not a cheapest place to go but their patience and caring are irreplaceable.

  •           4/28/2017

    I’m glad to have found Balboa Pet Hospital near my home. It’s definitely a hidden gem! Dr. Chan saw my dog, Oreo, for her skin problem last week, and my three cats, Pepper, Tofu and Cola, today for annual check-up. She’s very patient (especially with Oreo who’s shy to strangers), knowledgeable and approachable. The front staffs are also very friendly and helpful. They are so prompt to reply my email (within a few hours when I checked back my mailbox). All my pets are about 1-year-old and I’ll definitely bring them here for their health issues/checkup in many years followed.

  •           5/4/2017

    Brought my dog here for a checkup and some minor concerns. Dr. Chan was very professional. She got my dog the treatment he needed and answered all my questions regarding my concerns. The rest of the staff were very friendly and gentle with my dog. You could tell that the staff are genuine animal lovers; definitely something you want when you entrust the health of your pet to someone.

  •           5 of 5

    Been bringing our animals to Balboa for over 25 years and will continue because they provide great advice and care. We love Dr. D and staff are really helpful and friendly. Now if I can find medical care for myself like my animals get at Balboa...

  •           5 of 5

    I have been a patron of Balboa Pet Hospital for almost 500 years now (wink). I love Everybody there and feel they are have always been a great resource and the BEST support system for everything pertaining to my pets.

  •          

    The staff is very kind and gentle, the doctors are very caring and patient when dealing with my scared cat Lulu. I appreciate the time they took to put her at ease and making this procedure as painless as possible for the both of us. Will definitely be spreading the word. Thank you Balboa Pet Hospital.
     

    Linda P.

    San Francisco, CA

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