Muscle and Joint Disorders in Dogs

How do the muscles and joints work?

The muscles, joints, and bones act as a series of levers and pulleys to move the limbs and the body in general. Some joints (eg, knee and elbow) act like hinges that are stabilized by heavy ligaments and tendons, whereas other joints (eg, hips) allow more of a circular movement because their anatomy resembles a “ball and socket.”

What are soft-tissue injuries?

Disorders of the non-bone elements (ie, muscles, ligaments, tendons, or joint capsule) of the limbs are termed soft-tissue injuries. Such injuries are very common in pets because falling, running, and jumping can stretch or tear soft tissues, causing pain and inflammation.

What is arthritis?

Arthritis is defined as inflammation of the joint, and is common in older pets, especially those with old fractures, joint infections, or hip dysplasia.

How are these conditions diagnosed?

Preliminary diagnosis is based on a characteristic history and physical examination. However, your veterinarian may need to take X-rays to pinpoint the diagnosis and rule out other problems.

How are these conditions treated?

The best treatment for soft-tissue injuries is often rest and occasional use of anti-inflammatory drugs, although surgery is sometimes needed to repair a tear or rupture. Arthritis is also treated with anti-inflammatory drugs, although surgery is again sometimes needed. All pets should be kept fit and trim, because overweight pets have difficulty moving and are at much greater risk of injury and arthritis.