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Joint Problems in Bloodhounds

Bloodhound is a dog breed with very well developed sense of smell. Its other name is ‘Scent dog’ because it primarily hunts by scent. Due to its extraordinary sense of smell it can detect humans over great distances and even across water. Bloodhound is originally bred for the purpose of hunting, tracking and trailing. It is famous for its endurance. Police and law enforcement use bloodhound to find lost children, missing people, escaped prisoners and lost pets. It has loose and thin skin with wrinkles around head, face and throat. It is proposed that these wrinkles help to capture the scents. Ears are long that can stir up odor from the earth. It has dense coat which protects it from brambles. It is docile and calm towards human. It needs regular daily exercise. As it drools a lot it require daily cleaning. Bloodhounds have very loud howl and excellent digging power. They can reach 125 pound weight and up to 2feet height. Average life span is 10-12 years.

Health Problems:-

They are prone to eye, ear, gastrointestinal and joint problems.

Joint Problems:-

Now we come towards our main topic. Joint problems can occur due to any abnormality of joint structure. Joint structure consists of bones, cartilage (a protective covering around bone ends), synovial fluid (lubricating fluid present in space between bones) and ligaments. Most common joint problems in bloodhound are:-

Hip and elbow dysplasia :-

Abnormality in the structure and fitting of the joint is dysplasia. It leads to pain and sometimes arthritis. Hip dysplasia is a very common genetic disorder in bloodhounds, elbow dysplasia is less common.

Callus Formation :-

Normally joint movements are friction free because of efficient lubrication provided by the nature. Due to repeated pressure, friction and irritation skin around joints can become thick, tough and hard known as callus.

Osteoarthirits :-

It is a degenerative disease of joints. Cartilage is particularly affected in this condition, so there will be less protection of joint with a continuous risk of bone exposure and joint laxity.

Joint Fractures :-

Injury to joints can cause their fracture. Like humans, joints are weak in young age and in old age so these age group dogs are more prone to fractures.

Sign and Symptoms

  • Gait abnormalities. In hip dysplasia specific gait is seen known as “Bunny Hop”.
  • Hesitation in jumping, climbing and standing.
  • Limp
  • Wasting of muscle tissue
  • Swelling of joints
  • Pain on touching
  • Lagging behind on walks
  • Reduced activity
  • Rigidity of joint after rising in morning

Causes

Trauma

Injury or trauma to joints causes damage to cartilage leading to bone fracture and pain.

Genetic:-

Some diseases are transferred from parents to their off springs. Hip and elbow dysplasia are typical examples.

Rubbing/Friction

Continuous rubbing causes callus formation.

Stress

Stress damages cartilage, so there will be less protection and increased hindrance to joint.

Overweight:-

In obesity joints have to support much more weight so there is high risk of rapid degeneration.

Aging:-

With age, the cartilage worns out which makes joint painful and difficult to move. It is most common cause of osteoarthritis.

Diagnosis

History:-

Complete history helps a lot in making diagnosis.

General physical examination:-

Joint problems can be seen on physical examination.

Clinical tests:-

X-Rays, computed tomography (CT-Scan), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) confirms the diagnosis.

Management

  • Pain management: - Control of pain with analgesics (Paracetamol and tramadol) can help dogs in performing their daily activities easily. Comfortable sleep place with proper bed and soft pillows can also alleviate pain.
  • Swelling management: - Control of inflammation with NSAIDS and STEROIDS is very effective treatment of dysplasia. NSAIDS perform dual function; they are analgesic as well as anti inflammatory.
  • Tetracycline: - These drugs help by slowing down destruction of cartilage.
  • Callus management: - Keratolytic agents like salicylic agent help to dissolve callus.
  • Warmth: - A warm room with a safe heat source helps in treating osteoarthritis.
  • Surgical management: - There are many surgeries available to treat joint problems. These include joint reconstruction, joint fusion, joint replacement, bio scaffold implantation (implantation of an artificial structure known as bioscaffold into intra articular areas).

Prevention:-

Selection

Electing off springs of confirmed healthy parents can prevent joint problems, especially dysplasia.

Nutrition

Balanced diet can prevent joint problems. Excessive proteins cause rapid growth leading to joint failure.

Dietary supplements can also help prevent joint disorders and increase growth repair rate.  Pear and Berry’s Glucosamine Supplement is an ideal supplement. Chondroitin sulphate and glucosamine must be given.

 Physical Activity

Do not push puppies to strenuous exercises because their joint structure is immature until 1 year of age. On the other hand, moderate exercise in adult dogs is very helpful in preventing pain as it increases blood flow. Exercise also relieves joint stiffness.

Weight Control:-

Lesser weight put low burden on joints. High calorie diet should be avoided.

Protective Pads

Padded bedding can help prevent callus formation. Minimizing friction can also prevent it.