The Hip Bones Connected to the

your dog's bones - no, not the ones he buries in the yard, the other ones

If your girl has ever climbed into your lap, fallen asleep, then tried to do her best cat impression and knead her way further into your legs, it may have seemed like her entire body was made up of sharp angles and solid bone.

Dogs skeletons serve the same purpose as most animals' - it provides the basic framework for the body, allows it to run, jump, and play, and acts as a shield for the vital organs. Different bones are connected by ligament and moved by joints, which are then cushioned by cartilage, a natural shock absorber for the body. Any illness or problem in your pup can be concerning, but bone deficiencies, deformities, and breaks can be difficult to repair and sometimes painful for your baby.

What makes up bones?

If you've ever given your dog a beef bone, pig knuckle, or marrow bone, you probably noticed the solid consistency. Bones can be hard as rock, hard enough to break teeth. This might give you the impression that bones are static, unchanging, but we all know that they do change. They grow, and at times that growth can cause pain in both humans and dogs because of their compact make-up.

Bones are alive and kicking, complete with nerves and blood vessels. Their tissue is continuously broken down and recomposed, and the marrow (the center) of the bone develops red blood cells for the body.

What do joints do?

Flex your leg up and down. There, that's what joints do.

Joints, in conjunction with the bones and muscles, help the entire skeleton move. Without getting too in-depth, a muscle usually bridges between two joints and contracts to create motion.

How strong are my dog's bones?

That depends upon your dog, her age, her health, and her environment. Getting tired of that answer yet? Well, when it comes to bone or joint strength, those factors can make even more of a difference. Imagine the stress on the bones of a 150-pound dog

Did You Know? Of all general livestock, beef bones are the hardest - and therefore the safest for your dog to chew.

If

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Bone Grafts unfortunate reason,

your dog requires an amputation

ask your veterinarian about the possibility of performing a bone

graft instead. Just as in humans,

bone grafts are becoming a more popular, less severe alternative t removing a dog's leg.

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compared to those of a 15-pound dog. While the larger dog may have been built to compensate a bit for its extra weight, the amount of stress placed on her skeleton can reduce the amount of cushioning fluid in her joints and result in problems.

Fun Fact: The boxer breed got their name from the way they play with their friends. At a beginning of a play fight, they stand on their hind legs and swing at their opponent with their paws, thus giving the appearance of boxing.

playtimes until their bones mature, later in life.

What if my dog breaks a bone? Will she get a cast we can all sign with little paw prints? Um, maybe. But you should definitely get her to the vet as soon as possible. If she's bleeding, apply pressure and try to find sterile gauze or clean cloth to cover the cut. Try as hard as you can to keep your pooch from moving, which can make the break worse or cause her to lose additional blood. It can be difficult when her little body is wiggling all over, but ask other people in the area for help if necessary. If you don't have any help for the drive to the vet, use heavy towels to restrain her.

Once you get to the vet, he'll be able to tell you whether your dog has a compound, complete, or simple fracture. A complete fracture causes one or more splits in a bone, while a compound fracture breaks through the dog's skin and can result in additional infections because the wound is open. Simple fractures aren't apparent like compound fractures, but they are more prone to swelling.

After X-rays, the vet will repair the split with a number of different possible methods depending upon the severity. If it's severe, pins, screws, plates, and wires may be used. If you're lucky and the break is minor, the fracture can probably be repaired with that cute little cast you can sign.

This is especially true during your dog's developmental stages. Larger breeds have weaker bones and slower bone growth during their first year of life, and even within breeds the smaller female puppies have stronger skeletons and joints than the larger males. This means that larger pups should be kept from high-impact since additional stress on their skeleton can result in deformities

Caring for Pinned Pups

Should your dog require pins in her joint, do your best to not only accommodate the veterinarian's orders but also her individual needs. Most pinned joints can't handle things like stairs within the first month, so if your family spends a great deal of time in a room up or downstairs from your dog's typical living quarters, try to move the action to her neck of the woods for the time being. Isolation from her family could make her decide to attempt climbing the stairs, something which will probably result in her pin breaking and requiring a plate or other stronger fastener to replace it.

How can I help keep my pup from developing problems with her bones and joints? Store her in a bubble and only let her play when clothed in full football padding. There's very little you can do to prevent joint problems - dogs are dogs because they love to be active, play, and live life. This can be hard on their joints, which means that they can often become inflamed. Some dogs inherit the problems from their parents, others develop them, and all can be very painful for your buddy.

Larger and older dogs are prone to degenerative joint disease, a progressive, incurable disorder that restricts your pooch's everyday movement and activities. At its worst stages, DJD results in permanent lameness and can really only be helped by pain management. More importantly, make sure your dog's weight is under control. A few additional pounds can mean the difference between a little stiffness when she wakes up and unbearable pain throughout the day. While it may be difficult for her to get up and move around, try to keep her active to keep her joints strong. Your vet may be able to give you some references for hydrotherapy pools that allow animals, then take her swimming for the perfect low-impact workout!

The strain of arthritis caused by bacterial infections is septic arthritis and works its way into the joints through open wounds or even infections in internal organs. As with DJD and most forms of arthritis, you'll notice your pooch having difficulty walking or standing after napping. Your vet will draw some fluid from the joints using a syringe, then analyze it and prescribe the appropriate antibiotics.

Joint diseases can be very common in certain breeds and nearly always cause lameness and may not be reversible. Review the chart below for some of the more common diseases and their best treatments.

Did You Know? Acupuncture is an accepted treatment to help dogs suffering from DJD work through the pain. Many veterinarians can recommend holistic and alternative healing specialists for your pooch.

Condition

Treatments

Hip dysplasia

This is one of the most common conditions in large breeds and

symptoms can include lameness or a "duck walk." Hip dysplasia

is usually treated in the same way as DJD, so the same factors

(weight, age, etc.) can contribute to its severity. Several surgical

options for pups with hip dysplasia have been introduced recently,

some going as far as complete hip replacement.

Osteochondrosis

This disorder usually occurs in puppies when pieces of cartilage

flake off joints. This has two negative effects: the shaved-down

portions of the joint can become irritated, and the flakes of

cartilage can work their way into the joint fluid and interfere with

the joint's operation. Your dog may recover on her own with rest,

but your vet may recommend surgical removal of the flakes to

help her along.

Elbow dysplasia

Elbow dysplasia encompasses a whole salad bar of bone problems

and strikes younger pups. It can worsen with exercise and may

make the elbow swell. If your girl seems to be okay with pain

control and good health, she'll probably have very few adverse

effects to this condition throughout her life. If the pain starts to

increase, your vet may suggest surgery.

Okay, that's great, but what about the simpler problems like spraining an ankle or dislocating a joint? Check out the first aid section on page 86 for step-by-step instructions concerning minor strains, bumps, and bruises.

Vinegar For Your Health

Vinegar For Your Health

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