The Skeleton

The dog is a quadruped. He can stand on his hind legs, but he does so with difficulty. His normal position is on all fours. His whole skeletal formation is constructed with that end in view. And while circus or other trick dogs seem to be very nimble and at home on their hind legs, the average dog prefers to stand on all fours.

There is not much difference between the dog's skeleton and that of other mammals. Nature has made some changes here and there, depending upon the animal's mode of life. But, except for these minor changes, most mammals, including man, have a common skeleton. When the prehistoric forerunner of man walked on all fours, his skeleton approximated that of the dog. And even though we walk upright today, that similarity of skeleton still exists.

What variations do exist between our skeleton and that of the dog are minor. The dog, for example, has more caudal or tail bones than we do. We have collarbones or clavicles; the dog does not. His shoulder blades are fastened directly to his skeleton. We also have opposable thumbs. These are lacking in the dog and most mammals.

While we don't need to know every bone in the dog's skeleton, we should be familiar with the main bones or sections of the skeleton. The "body" part of the dog's skeleton consists of the skull, ribs and spinal column (atlas, axis, cervical vertebrae, thoracic vertebrae, lumbar vertebrae and the caudal vertebrae). The skull is attached to the spinal cord at the atlas. The front or fore legs consist of the shoulder blade or scapula, humerus, radius, carpus (knee) and the metacarpus or pastern. The hind quarters consist of the pelvis, femur, tibia, fibula, tarsus (hock) and the metatarsus.

The dog's skeleton is a strong framework and under normal conditions offers good protection to the vital organs. Unfortunately, domestic dogs don't live under normal conditions. Too many dog skeletons are cracked by automobiles. Automobile injuries account for the majority of dog bone fractures or breaks. The bones most frequently broken are the ribs, bones of the fore and hind legs, and the pelvis. Fractures of the pelvis are far more common that you would suppose. A large number of dogs hit by cars manage to get the front part of their bodies clear of the car, but are struck in the hindquarters or pelvis. (See Chapter 17, under car and truck accidents)

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Pamper Your Dog

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