Common Bone-Related Maladies Among Dogs
Mon, April 19, 2021

Common Bone-Related Maladies Among Dogs

Your dog has a chance of getting injuries at least once or twice in his lifetime, explained Jenna Stregowski of The Spruce Pets, a website dedicated to covering content on pets. Dogs are usually known for their adventurous spirit and fearlessness. Most canines explore their surroundings barefoot and uninhibited. Sadly, things and circumstances that occur within their immediate surroundings can inflict harm on your dog. Accidents and injuries happen unexpectedly. Hence, it’s best to prepare yourself for these possibilities beforehand.

Even if it’s a minor and serious injury, it is heartbreaking to see your pet canine get injured. Depending on the severity of your pet’s injury, you may need to administer first aid or consult a veterinarian for advice and assistance. There are numerous injuries seen in dogs, but let us focus on bone-related maladies.

Dogs and Fractures

Maruf Minar and colleagues published a 2013 study titled “Restrospective Study On Fractures In Dogs” in the journal portal Research Gate to provide clinicians in Korea with information on the factors that affect fracture incidence adapted to Korean companion animal culture. 80 cases showing bone fractures were studied from January 2005 to December 2011. Fractures were commonly seen in miniature dog breeds such as Yorkshire terrier (12%), Poodle (12%), Maltese (9%), Schnauzer (7%), Pomeranian (6%), and Mongrel (6%).

Young dogs less than six months old had the most fractures (25%). This group was followed by dogs of six months to one year at 21%, one to two years (13.5%), two to three years (6%), and three to four years (7.5%). Young dogs tend to exhibit higher incidences of bone fracture. Dogs beyond four years of age have lower incidences of bone fracture. The researchers wrote that the lowest age was two months while 12 years was the highest.

76% of dogs in the study weighed between one to 10 kg and 24% weighed between 10 to 25 kg. 36 males (54%) experienced more bone fractures than their female counterparts (31 dogs, 46%). 37% of fractures in 33 dogs were associated with the hindlimb, followed by a forelimb fracture in 27 dogs (30%), pelvic fracture in 19 dogs (22%), and facial bone fracture in 10 dogs (11%).

Getting hit by a car was the most common cause of fracture in dogs at 43%. Falling down (28.5%), trauma (16%), getting stuck in the door (5%), slipping down (3.5%), and getting bitten by a dog (2%) were other causes of this injury. 2% of causes of fracture among the dogs analyzed in the research were unknown.

Plate and screw was the most common method of treatment for fractures (26%). Intramedullary pin (24%), wire (11%), external skeletal fixation (10%),  screw (9%), amputation (7%), cross pin (6%), IM pin and wire (5%), and rush pin (1%) were other common methods of treatment. After surgery, 79% of patients of the total 80 cases recovered a good prognosis while 13% did not experience a good result. The outcome of the surgery among the remaining 9% was not known due to a lack of proper information.

Dogs and Bone Tumors

1,915 out of 3,748 (51% response rate) survey questionnaires were completed by respondents, representing 1,778 male and 1,970 female dogs, according to Kristin P. Anfinsen and colleagues, who published their research “Breed-Specific Incidence Rates of Canine Primary Bone Tumors— A Population Based Survey of Dogs In Norway”  in NCBI, a portal on biomedical and genomic information.

The highest incidence rates of primary bone tumors were found in Irish wolfhound (IW) and Leonberger (LB) with incidence rates estimated to be about 11 and seven times higher respectively than in Newfoundland (NF)  IW and LB’s incidence rates were 60 and 35 times higher respectively than Labrador retriever (LR). At the end of the study, one IW, 38 NF, 15 LB, and 237 LR were still alive— totaling to 291 dogs.  

Common Bone Problems In Dogs

1.         Fracture

As mentioned previously, car accidents, trauma, falls, etc. are the causes of broken bones, which can be categorized as either open or closed, stated Mindy Cohan of PetsMD, a veterinary care and information website. Open or compound fractures are the protrusion of bone through the skin and should be addressed by a veterinarian to prevent infection. Your vet may also prescribe antibiotics.

Meanwhile, closed fractures—which refers to a bone broken in multiple places or when the fracture line runs the length of the bone—require surgery. Dogs with fractures suffer from acute, severe pain and may lash out or bite if touched. A makeshift muzzle for larger dogs can be made to protect yourself from bites. Smaller ones can be wrapped in thick blankets for warmth and comfort.  

2.         Infection

Osteomyelitis or bone infection can result from a fracture, bite wound, or laceration. Systemic infections can also reach your dog’s bone through the bloodstream. Pets with bone infections can suffer from decreased appetite, fever, and lethargy. You will know if your dog has an infection if the affected site is warm to the touch, red, swollen, and painful.

Your vet will need to perform a physical exam on your canine, along with blood and urine tests, bacterial or fungal cultures, and radiographs. Your dog may need to be prescribed with antibiotics and possibly be hospitalized for supportive care or surgery depending on the severity and nature of the infection.  

3.         Arthritis

Though commonly associated with older pets, arthritis can also develop in younger pets after a traumatic injury or congenital poor joint conformation. Pain and inflammation can occur when cartilage is damaged or compromised. If your dog has arthritis, it can develop a transient or permanent limp, including changes in gait.

Your dog should maintain a healthy weight through regular, moderate exercise to expend calories and reduce stiffness without straining its joints. For water-loving pooches, swimming is also a great activity to aid in their mobility. You can also consult your vet if they can recommend joint supplements, pain-relieving medications, acupuncture, and laser therapy.

4.         Bone Cancer

Bone tumors can arise in any bone of your pet’s body. Tumors can begin either in the affected bone or cancer cells can spread through metastasis from other sites. The site of the bone tumor will have its associated symptoms. For example, tumors in the limbs are associated with lameness. Long bone tumors often fail to be diagnosed early as they are similar to arthritis and acute injuries.

Rest and pain medications help but if they fail to resolve your dog’s bone pain, X-rays will be needed to reveal bone cancer. For all types of bone cancer, your vet will need to conduct various tests to determine if the lesion is malignant and to identify the type of tumor. Treatment for bone tumors depends on the type of tumor, staging at the time of diagnosis, your dog’s age and concurrent illnesses, and your financial capability.  

Don’t dismiss bone injuries as normal health maladies. It is best to be mindful of your dog’s health to see if you need to visit your vet or administer first aid. If you feel that your pet is acting peculiarly, it is best to see a professional for early diagnosis and supportive care. Regular physical exams and exercise are also necessary to keep your pooch in tiptop shape.