Problems with the Bones and Joints of Small Dogs

Here are the main problems with the bones and joints found in breeds of small dogs:

Aseptic necrosis of the head of the femur <9 Aseptic necrosis of the head of the femur is a disease that occurs between four and eleven months of age in small breeds of dogs and results in posterior lameness. On radiological examination, the diagnosis is very easy to make and very visible. Various surgical techniques make it possible to remedy this abnormality of the femoral head.

The scapulohumeral joint

The dwarf and toy breeds show a congenital instability of the shoulder joint, or scapulohumeral joint. This weakness favors dislocation either spontaneously or following a slight trauma to the joint. The first symptoms of lameness usually appear between three and eight months of age. Manual reduction of dislocation is impossible, and anti-inflammatory treatment must be given.


Dislocation of patella in small breeds is quite common. The dog limps a hind limb. Often this lameness is intermittent. Surgery should be performed if the condition is too severe. A ligament defect of the elbow joint promotes dislocation

Disorders appear between three and six weeks after birth. The atlantoaxial articulation, that is to say the articulation between the first two vertebrae of the neck, where the skull is fixed, is unstable in certain individuals of dwarf races. Dogs show pain or mild paralysis up to paralysis of the four limbs


This anomaly concerns the shape of the vertebrae. Brachycephalic dogs, and in particular dogs with corkscrews, are predisposed to this congenital anomaly. This defect is thought to be caused by a lack of ossification associated with an abnormality of the vascularization of the vertebrae.

Hemivertebrae can cause deformities of the spine, but do not always cause symptoms, and it sometimes happens that they are simply discovered during a routine radiological examination. But hemivertebras are also responsible for the compression of the spinal cord.

This results in a series of symptoms ranging from mild pain to paralysis of the posterior train. That is why these anomalies should always be taken seriously.

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