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Musculoskeletal Disorders in Dogs

For agile and active dogs, nothing is more frustrating than suffering from a musculoskeletal disorder. These disorders hinder a dog’s ability to move and they range in severity and permanence. There are a number of different musculoskeletal disorders and each has its own causes, symptoms and treatments.

In this article, we’re breaking down the most common musculoskeletal disorders in dogs so that pet owners know what to look out for.


Myopathies – Muscle Membranes and Fibres

Disorders that affect the muscle membrane or muscle fibres are referred to as “myopathies”. They may be genetically inherited or they can be caused by injury, nutritional imbalances, metabolic disturbances, cancer, or by ingesting poison.

Myositis is an inflammatory muscle reaction that is caused by infections, parasitic diseases and immune-mediated conditions. Common myopathies include is polymyositis and exertional myopathy. These are diagnosed through laboratory testing.


Tendinitis – Muscular or Tendon Trauma

Tendons are not designed to stretch, making them prone to injury and easily torn in sudden accidents. Injuries that fall into this category can lead to tendinitis – this is simply the inflammation of the tendons. Tendons heal slowly and can require additional physical therapy to ensure they heal correctly.

Common tendon and muscle traumas include:

  • Abnormal contraction in the shoulder muscle
  • Inflammation of the bicep
  • Contracted quadriceps
  • Achilles tendon disruption
  • Pelvic muscle (Iliopsoas) trauma


Common Canine Bone Disorders

Most of the time, bone disorders in dogs are present at birth. They can also be the result of nutritional deficiencies and sudden injuries. Bone defects may be caused by an imbalanced diet, particularly an imbalance in trace minerals like copper, zinc and magnesium.

Many bone disorders stem from trauma such as a crack or fracture. Others may be caused by an infection that causes the bone tissue to break down over time. One example of a bone/joint disorder that affects many dogs is hip dysplasia.


Joint Diseases and Disorders

All moveable joints are vulnerable to damage, disease and disorders that affect their membranes, ligaments, cartilage and bone. Your dog may suffer a joint disorder due to trauma, inflammation, developmental issues or infections. If left untreated, these disorders can lead to arthritis or ruptured ligaments.

The areas of the canine body that are susceptible to these problems are the:


Preventing and Treating Musculoskeletal Disorders in Dogs

It is strongly recommended that puppies be tested for musculoskeletal disorders at a young age. Breeders are urged to not use affected puppies as breeding dogs to minimise the chance of additional litter problems. There are many treatments available, including long-term medication and corrective surgery.

There are certain environmental factors that can prevent musculoskeletal disorders, including a well-balanced diet, weight management, prompt treatment of injuries, and regular exercise.


Book an Assessment with Kirrawee Veterinary Hospital

Protect your dog against musculoskeletal disorders by maintaining a regular schedule of check-ups with your local vet. Make an appointment with Kirrawee Veterinary Hospital by calling (02) 9521 6422 or contacting us online.


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