Bone Disorders In Dogs Due to Faulty Development

Dogs may be born with some developmental defects (congenital), but many of them develop during the stage of rapid skeletal development when the young puppies are growing very fast. Deficiencies and imbalances in the diet may be another reason. Hereditary factors can also be responsible for bone disorders, as in the case of certain abnormalities that have become the common characteristics of some breeds.

Angular Limb Deformities

Injuries to the active growing area of the two bones, radius and ulna in the foreleg may result in certain abnormalities. Smaller breeds of dogs such as Pugs, Bulldogs, Dachshunds, Basset Hounds and Boston Terriers are prone to this hereditary condition. When the growth plates are injured, the two bones may grow at different rates and cause one of them to be shortened and the other to bend. The elbow joint may get displaced partially and the wrist may get twisted.

Lameness is the typical symptom. There is marked reduction in the range of motion as the dog has pain while moving the elbow and the wrist. The exact damage to the bones and joints can be determined with x-rays.

Angular limb deformities can be treated surgically by modifying the shape of the bone, its position and its length. Joints are restored to normal movement and proper functioning. After the surgery, the limb is stabilized with braces fixed externally or internally. Dogs undergoing surgical correction have a very high chance of full recovery unless their limbs are severely deformed.

Craniomandibular Osteopathy

This bone disorder of the mandible and the tympanic bullae located behind the ears affects young dogs during their period of rapid development. In this abnormal condition, some parts of the normally developing lower jaw bone and the bones behind the ears turn into immature bones. This transformation happens without any apparent reason. Craniomandibular osteopathy is prevalent in Terriers, and it is considered a genetic abnormality.

The symptoms of craniomandibular osteopathy are pain and discomfort in the mouth and fever. The dog may lose weight and its lower jaw gets enlarged. The veterinarian’s diagnosis of this disorder can be confirmed by x-rays.

This painful condition is treated with analgesics. Corticosteroid drugs may be prescribed to relieve the inflammation of the lower jaw. The vet may recommend soft foods for the dog to reduce the need for chewing. Craniomandibular osteopathy may get resolved when the bone development is over with the dog becoming mature.

Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy

It is a bone disorder prevalent in the larger breeds of dogs. It affects the long bones such as radius and ulna in the young dogs undergoing rapid bone development. The reason for this abnormality is not known, but a very high-calorie diet containing high amounts of protein, usually given to large and giant breeds in view of their rapid growth, is implicated.

The main symptoms of hypertrophic osteodystrophy are pain in the long bones in the forelimbs, radius and ulna, accompanied by fever and inflammation. The dog becomes depressed and reluctant to eat or move. These symptoms may appear intermittently, but the dog may develop skeletal deformities and lameness.

Analgesics for pain relief and non-steroidal drugs to reduce inflammation constitute the treatment. Fluid supplementation and changes in the diet advised by the veterinarian may reduce the severity of the condition.


This bone disorder, also known as multiple exostoses, occasionally affects young dogs during their rapid bone development phase. Osteochondromas are bony outgrowths arising from skeletal structures such as ribs, long bones and the vertebral column. Many dogs with this abnormality may not display any symptoms, and the disease may go undetected in dogs unless their x-rays are taken for some reason. A veterinarian may feel the projections during a physical examination too. Surgical removal of multiple osteochondromas may be necessary only if symptoms such as pain or lameness develop.

Retained Ulnar Cartilage Cores

In some larger breeds of dogs, this abnormality of the ulnar growth plate in the forelimb results in faulty bone formation. Bone growth of the affected limb becomes restrained because the hardening of the ulna does not take place. It is not known what causes retained ulnar cartilage cores in young dogs, but the rich diet fed to them to enhance growth is implicated. Deformities of the forelimb and lameness are the usual symptoms.

The presence of this disorder in dogs is confirmed by x-rays. The veterinarian may advise you to avoid high-growth diets. Surgical intervention may help reduce deformities. In some cases, the bone may have to be removed. Recovery depends on the extent of the abnormalities caused by the disorder.

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