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Joint Problems in Newfoundlands

Joint is a point where two bones meet with each other. The joints are further supported by structures like ligaments, cartilage, synovial fluid and cavity and tendons. All these structure provide rigidity to joint structure yet keep movements frictionless and painless. Joint issues start when any of the above mentioned components are damaged.

Like all other dog breeds, Newfoundlands are prone to some joint issues. Some of these issues include:

Hip dysplasia:

The most prevalent joint disease in Newfoundlands is hip dysplasia. Dysplasia is a term used for abnormal or improper growth. Canine hip dysplasia is a condition in which the hip joint of the dog is not developed properly. Hip joint is the most important “weight bearing joint” of the body. In hip joint, the thigh bone or femur having a spherical head rotates in a cavity shaped acetabulum of hip bone. Normally, the femur bone fits into the hip bone and rotates smoothly. Various ligaments surround the joint that keep the joint bones intact in their place and provide strength to it. But in hip dysplasia the development or growth of hip bone cavity does not take place correctly. The hip bone cavity becomes too shallow or disrupted in shape that it becomes difficult for it to hold the head of femur. As a result, the thigh bone fits loosely into hip bone and moves freely. The bone surfaces rub against each other roughly which accelerates the wear and tear process of bones and cartilages, leading to inflammation and pain in joint.

The manifested symptoms of hip dysplasia are pain, lameness of hind limbs, limping, difficulty in climbing stairs and hopping while walking (bunny hope).

Causes:

Here are some causes of hip dysplasia in Newfoundlands:

  • Genetic factor: Hip dysplasia is typical hereditary condition. The disease is passed from generation to generations. Large breed dogs like Newfoundlands are more prone to having hip dysplasia.
  • Obesity: Weight gain in dogs puts burden on the hip joint which aggravates the faulty growth of hip joint.
  • Nutritional deficiency: Absence of essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals form the dog’s diet can promote the abnormal growth of bones.
  • Exercise: Exercise is good for the health of your dog but too much physical activity sometimes exacerbate the symptoms of hip dysplasia especially in young puppies who are already predisposed to it.

Treatment and prevention:

  • Weight reduction: If your dog is overweight then reducing the weight might help in lessening the symptoms of hip dysplasia
  • Proper nutrition: Nutritional supplements like glucosamine should be added in diet to strengthen the bones.
  • Pain killers: Analgesics and anti-inflammatory medicines can be used for the temporary relief of pain and inflammation.
  • Surgery: Surgical intervention like arthroplasty and hip replacement are the final treatment options in severe cases of hip dysplasia.

Elbow dysplasia or osteochondrosis dissecans:

Elbow dysplasia is just like hip dysplasia. The main cause of elbow dysplasia in Newfoundlands is a developmental bone disease called “osteochondrosis dissecans or OCD”. In osteochondrosis, the cartilage is not converted into bone, resulting in cartilages excess. The cartilage cells continue to proliferate rapidly without being converted into bone. This increases the thickness of cartilages which makes them brittle and less resistant. As the thickness of cartilage increases, its blood supply is diminished that damages the cartilage and converts it into dead tissues.  This damaged cartilage ultimately separates from the bone, initiating pain and inflammation in the joint.

The common symptoms of elbow dysplasia are pain, joint swelling, lameness of forelimb and inability to bear weight.

Causes:

  • Elbow dysplasia, like hip dysplasia, is a hereditary disease. It usually affects large breed dogs at the age of 6 to 9 months.
  • Apart from genetic factor, environmental and nutritional factors like weight gain, excessive intake of calcium and nutritional supplements and high calorie intake promote this disease.

Treatment:

  • Anti inflammatory medicines can be given for the short term relief of pain.
  • A surgical treatment like arthroscopy is done to remove the damaged cartilage tissue. Once the dead tissue is removed, it will promote the healing and healthy growth of cartilage.

Panosteitis:

Panosteitis also called as “long bone disease” is a temporary painful condition of bones in which the long bones of dogs grow rapidly. It is also referred as “growing pains”. This disease is usually seen in young puppies at the age of 5 to 14 months, an age of rapid growth. But the exact cause of disease is still unknown.  The symptoms of panosteitis include sudden severe pain in legs, lameness, fever, lethargy, weight loss and anorexia.

Treatment and prevention:

Panosteitis is a temporary condition which resolves on its own when the puppy becomes adult. However, the severity of pain can be reduced by giving analgesic medicine to dog. Along with analgesic, the physical activity of puppy should be limited to lessen the pain and discomfort.