MY DOG IS LIMPING... WHAT IS THE PROBLEM? By Sharon Masnick
L imping or lameness is a common sign of bone or joint disease, but muscle or nerve damage can also cause lameness. Weakness or pain is indicated in the leg involved. The term luxating means “out of place” or “dislocated.” There are many reasons a dog might limp. Some cases might resolve with a few days’ rest, or treatment by a veter- inarian may be needed. I will discuss several possible causes. Many Toy or small breed dogs have a genetic predisposition for a luxating patella. When the patella luxates, the dog will have difficulty bearing weight on the leg. First, a dog could step on a sharp rock, a piece of glass or a thorn. Dogs walk around on their bare feet, so a foreign object could burrow into the skin and fester. This could require lancing to remove. Second, a toenail injury can be quite painful. Torn or broken nails may require veterinary attention. It is im- portant to keep dog’s nails trimmed to prevent injury.
Third, a common reason for limp- ing is overexertion. This could cause muscle and joint soreness. This type of limping will probably be mild and the dog will recover in a few days. Fourth, trauma couldbe the result of an insect bite, an insect sting, soft tissue injury or a broken bone. Dogs can slip or land “funny” and the result could be a ligament tear. In this case, a physical examand x-raywould be in order. Fifth, a luxating patella can occur when a dog’s kneecap moves out of its natural position. This condition can be inherited or acquired by trauma. The kneecap is a small bone that pro- tects the front of the stifle joint. Liga- ments anchor it in place and it slides in a groove in the femur. The signs of a slipped kneecap are difficulty with straightening the knee, pain in the stifle, and a limp. To correct this con- dition, treatment involves surgery to deepen the groove. Many small dogs live with this condition, and it doesn’t result in pain or arthritis. Adog’sluxationisgradedbyveterinary specialists from grade 0 to grade 4.
Grade 1: The patella is usually in a normal position but can be pushed out of place manually and popped back in to normal position. Grade 2: The pa- tella can be in a normal or luxated po- sition. The patella pops in and out on its own. Grade 3: In this case, the pa- tella is displaced out of the groove for a majority of the time. Grade 4: This is the most severe case. The patella is permanently luxated and cannot be manipulated back into the groove. Sometimes, a luxating patella can be treated with physical therapy and medication. If your dog’s condition is severe, with severe pain, surgery may be necessary. As always, consult your veterinarian. Ideally, because a luxating patella is usually considered an inherited con- dition, it’s recommended that dogs with this condition are not used for breeding. It is best to consider all fac- tors and strike the best balance of de- sirable and non-desirable traits when breeding. Again, it is always best to consult with your veterinarian.
My name is SharonMasnick, and I have owned a Pomeranian since I was 18. I began to be inter- ested in the entire Toy Group when, for 17 years, I handled the advertising and editorial for Top Notch Toys. I resigned in 2011 to pursue judging. I am now happy to say that I can judge BIS, the Toy Group, Junior Showmanship, Azawakhs, Shetland Sheepdogs, and several Non-Sporting breeds. I am a breeder-judge for Poms, Toy Fox Terriers, Japanese Chin, and Pekingese. ABOUT THE AUTHOR
34 • T op N otch T oys , S eptember 2021
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