Puppies are stepped on, dropped from people’s arms, fall down stairs, and are otherwise stressed, usually with no skeletal damage done, but bones can fracture and joints can be sprained. Injury is the number one cause of home problems. Fortunately, growing puppies’ bones heal rapidly and since their bones are not brittle as those of adult dogs they may bend and straighten rather than snap. The greenstick fracture often heals without human intervention.
There is no doubt in our minds that the majority of bone problems in growing puppies other than those due to injury are caused by their owners feeding them improperly. This of course is because of innocence or lack of knowledge, even indulgence, on the owners’ part. They are not aware of the proper nutrition puppies require or whether or not the commercially available foods have the necessary ingredients for adequate nutrition.
For the healthy development of the skeletons, the ratio of calcium to phosphorus is critical. The National Academy of Science recommends.6 percent calcium and 0.4 percent phosphorus in the diet. And the presence of the proper amounts of vitamins A and D is necessary for the bones to develop properly. So when owners want “big bones” in their dogs and add a handful of bonemeal to the daily ration the results may be more unfortunate than constipation it causes. It is better to put the bonemeal around the roses in your garden.
By the same token, excess phosphorus is dangerous, but fortunately growing puppies can exist on improper diets and still do fairly well.
One problem in rapidly growing larger breeds is called panosteitis, which is the inflammation of every part of a bone. Changes in the shafts of the long bones of the forelegs cause lameness, which may move from one leg to another. For a few days or weeks, one foreleg will be lame and suddenly the puppy favors the other one. Perhaps this is similar to the condition in children called growing pains. X-ray diagnosis and rest are advised for this self-limiting problem. The X-ray diagnosis is important to rule out joint problems or injuries that may need aggressive treatment.
An excess of meat in a diet can affect the parathyroid glands, stimulating them into overactivity, perhaps from the low calcium-to-phosphorus ratio. The result is a demineralization of the bones, the exact opposite of the normal process. If this condition is extreme, a puppy can fracture a leg just playing with a littermate.
Dwarfism has been reported and is due to a pituitary defect. 1 German Shepherd Puppy with it reached a top weight of sixteen pounds and died at five years of age.
Other endocrine gland problems cause skeletal defects, for example, excess estrogen results in stunted adults. Among the damage that cortisone and other steroids can cause, such as Cushing’s disease, they can and do inhibit the absorption of calcium from the intestines. The result is osteoporosis (a condition that causes weakened, brittle bones) observed in the long bones and spine. At the points where the ribs and the cartilaginous extensions of the breastbone meet, one sometimes finds enlargements that may persist throughout a dog’s life. These enlargements may be normal, an indication of disease, or evidence that the pet was inadequately fed or develop when it suffers broken bones. If a veterinarian is near, you should call him or her immediately. The dog should be kept warm while being transported to the veterinarian for the necessary treatment.
Dislocations must be “reduced” and slipped back into place and this, too, is better left to the veterinarian. Breaks of almost any bone can beset. Some, like broken jaws, may need wiring; some may require complicated pins, plates, or joining by grafting. The methods require considerable study and a great deal of experience. So does the decision whether to use intramedullary pins, wire, plates screwed in position, splints and what kind of splint, Stader or Thomas or plaster casts interspersed with cloth, with or without windows, and no fourth if the fracture is compound. The dog’s character must also be considered. Some dogs will try to chew almost anything off; others will cooperate as good patients should.
Every fracture case should be monitored by your veterinarian once a week or as often as recommended, so that the opposition, the healing, and the straightness can be observed, and so the splint or cast or other was sick for a considerable part of its growing period. In conjunction with these one generally finds abnormal enlargements on the lower end of the radius, a large bone of the forearm, where it joins the wrist(carpal) joint. The spongy end may be so abnormal that it turns the leg, making it crooked (bandy leg) or weak so that the leg from the wrist down bends out sideways. Some dogs are born with hereditary “bench” legs, which are characterized by the front feet turning out sideways, a condition not due to rickets or other dietary deficiencies.
The process of bone healing is most interesting, and it is worthwhile to understand it in case you have to manage a pet with one or more fractured bones.
Let us suppose that a fairly simple break occurs in the bones of the foreleg of a dog. When the dog returns home after an accident, the broken leg is obviously shorter than the others. The dog holds it up, crying with pain. The veterinarian waits until the dog has recovered from shock then sets the leg. The ends of the bone are brought together, “in apposition,” as the veterinarian calls it. Then the ends of the bone must “knit.” Here is where it is worthwhile for the owner to know exactly what happens so that he or she cass give the pet all the attention and care required.
For several days the body decalcifies or withdraws calcium and other minerals from the bone end. Gradually they become soft, like cartilage. At this stage, it doesn’t snake much difference if the bosses are not perfectly matched at the break. The second step, after the softening process, is the growth from each end of connective fibers that join the bone ends together.
These shrinks, pulling the ends closed. This process is completed in fourteen or fifteen days. During this period it isn’t as important how straight the bone is kept, as long as the ends are in apposition. At any time during this interval, it is possible, but not desirable, to bend it at the break.
See more: Dog Body Structure
[…] See more: Dog Bone […]