You Make The Diagnosis: Orthopedic Condition in Dogs

There are many orthopedic conditions in dogs that have a genetic basis. Pictured below are the front legs of a mixed breed dog. This happy-go-lucky guy has a unique confirmation of his front legs. Study the image and then answer the following questions: 1) What is the name of this condition? 2) What breed is most commonly affected? 3) What causes it to occur? 4) How will this condition affect the dog’s long-term health?

Valgus in dog closeup

Diagnosis: Angular Limb Deformity – Valgus

Valgus is a term used to describe the outward bowing of a leg.  When it occurs in the back legs, the condition is often described as “knock kneed” or “cow hocked”.  It occurs during the rapid growth phase when the two bones in the front leg, the radius and ulna, grow at uneven rates causing the leg to bow.  I see it most in Bassets, Corgi’s and Dachshunds where it is an inherited condition. Other breeds may also develop a valgus limb deformity after damaging their growth plates as a puppy.

Angular limb deformity causes abnormal weight bearing and excessive stress on the joints. Affected dogs often suffer from a mechanical lameness meaning they simply can’t move the joint to walk normally. Over time, osteoarthritis develops causing severe pain.  My next blog will cover treatment options for this condition.

Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.

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2 Comments

  1. I read your post ‘You Make The Diagnosis: Orthopedic Condition in Dogs’ but couldn’t find the next blog about treatment options. My dog(Dachshunds, 18 months) has them in his front legs and I am considering a surgery. Would you also recommend it as a veterinary?

    1. I am sorry about not posting the treatment options blog. I will do that at the end of February. Basically, the options are medical management, surgery to either correct the bone structure if caught early or fusing a joint to relieve pain in older dogs and splints. To decide what is best, I recommend having a veterinary surgeon evaluate your dog. Based on the X-rays, condition of joints and lifestyle of your dog, a treatment plan can be formulated. Thank you again for bringing this omission to my attention. Good luck!

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