Osteomalacia is a rickets-like disorder affecting adult dogs. Since there are differences in the rate of development of different bones, the same dog may have rickets in the immature bones and osteomalacia in the mature ones.
Dogs suffering from osteomalacia may not thrive well and may become estrous prematurely. They may develop a craving for dirt, clay, paint or plaster. Fractures in the long bones and the pelvic bones are common. Broken ribs and spinal deformities such as lordosis or kyphosis may be present. In lordosis, the spine curves inward at the lower end while kyphosis results from the spine curving outwards.
When symptoms characteristic of osteomalacia are observed in the dog, the veterinarian may do x-rays to detect the effects of this disease on the skeletal structures. The dog’s diet is evaluated to assess the deficiencies and to ensure adequate intake of vitamin D and the minerals.
When osteomalacia is diagnosed, the dog is kept in confinement to avoid damaging its weakened skeletal structure while it is given a modified diet. Most dogs respond rapidly and favorably to nutritional intervention, becoming active and energetic in a week’s time. Since the bones are still vulnerable to fractures, the dog should be restricted from excess physical exertion such as climbing and jumping. After about three weeks, the dog may be allowed limited freedom, but it is advisable to continue the confinement until its skeleton is strong enough. The progress of the treatment should be assessed periodically with the help of x-rays.