Although dogs and cats walk on four legs, their anatomy is very similar to people. The musculoskeletal system allows your pet to move around in their environment. Abnormalities of this system are often associated with injury.
- Cranial cruciate ligament rupture and fractures represent the majority of musculoskeletal problems.
- Congenital defects commonly affect bone and/or cartilage development, such as elbow and hip dysplasias and patella luxation.
- Infectious diseases of the skeletal system include tick borne diseases such as: Borreliosis (Lyme’s disease), other Rickettsial infections, and systemic fungal infections (e.g.: Blastomycosis).
- Osteoarthritis develops in unstable joints over time.
- Metabolic and nutritional disorders, such as kidney failure, can weaken bones.
- Cancers commonly affecting the bone include: osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, fibrosarcoma, and metastatic disease (spread of cancer).
Musculoskeletal abnormalities are more common in dogs than cats. Surgical intervention may be needed in some cases of musculoskeletal disease. Recovery from musculoskeletal disease or injury often requires a combination of pain management, exercise restriction, rehabilitatitive care, weight management, and nutritional supplements.
Cats bear 60% of their body weight in their front limbs, thus elbow health is essential. Injuries to the elbow joint often result in arthritis in your cat’s later years. Cats are masters at hiding pain; they may not show obvious symptoms. Some cats will sleep more often (appear to be lazy), show reluctance to jump up and down, or excessively groom the affected limb. A healthy body weight is the best insurance to minimize joint inflammation in your pet’s later years. Anti-inflammatory medications, nutritional supplements, physical therapy, and/or surgery may be recommended by your veterinarian to keep your cat’s elbow joints strong and mobile.
The femur bone spans the distance between the hip and stifle (knee) joints. Large muscle groups attach to the femur to allow flexion and extension of the rear limb. The top of the femur forms the ball in the ball and socket hip joint, while the bottom of the femur articulates with the tibia in the knee joint. Problems associated with the femur occur from developmental abnormalities (e.g.: hip dysplasia), fractures, dislocation of the femur from the hip joint, bone infections (e.g.: Blastomycosis), and tumors (e.g.: osteosarcoma). Pets with mild femur pain may favor the affected leg, be slow to rise, and become exercise intolerant. Significant femur pain (e.g.: traumatic or pathologic fracture) appears as swelling and non-weight bearing lameness on the affected limb.
The pelvis is composed of 4 bones (ilium, ischium, pubis, and sacrum) that form a box to connect the spine to both of the hind limbs at the hip joints. The pelvic box surrounds and protects portions of the intestinal, urinary, and reproductive tracts. Common problems with the pelvis include fractures from trauma and arthritis. Due to the box-like nature of the pelvis, fractures tend to be multiple and concomitant injury to the internal organs may occur. Cats with hip pain may rise more slowly or limp; many cats will appear lazy, preferring to sleep. A healthy body weight is the best insurance to minimize joint inflammation in your cat’s later years. Anti-inflammatory medications, nutritional supplements, physical therapy, and/or surgery may be recommended by your veterinarian to keep the hip joints strong and mobile.
Your cat loves to chase balls around and play…healthy stifle (knee) joints help ensure that these fun activities can continue throughout your cat’s life. Stifle injuries, such as cranial cruciate ligament tears, occur more commonly in overweight cats during play activity. Cats with stifle pain either hold up the affected leg or they may partially bear weight on it. A healthy body weight is the best insurance to minimize joint inflammation in your cat’s later years. Anti-inflammatory medications, nutritional supplements, physical therapy, and/or surgery may be recommended to keep the stifle joints strong and mobile so your cat can keep chasing balls into the golden years.
Cats bear 60% of their body weight in their front limbs; thus, shoulder health is essential. The shoulder connects the front limbs to the trunk and provides support for the front half of the body. Disruption of the normal gliding of the shoulder joint results in pain. Without intervention, arthritis settles in the joint. Shoulder pain may not be obvious in stoic cats; other cats may limp on the affected leg. A healthy body weight is the best insurance to minimize joint inflammation in your cat’s shoulders. Anti-inflammatory medications, nutritional supplements, physical therapy and/or surgery may be recommended by your veterinarian to keep the shoulder joints strong and mobile.
The skull, containing numerous fused bones, gives shape to your dog’s head, facilitates jaw movement, and envelops the fragile brain to offer protection from trauma. Skull injuries commonly occur from head trauma resulting in fractures, brain injury, and bleeding.
Just as the skull protects the brain, the bony spine protects the spinal cord. The spinal cord passes through multiple vertebrae to provide a neurologic highway that connects the brain to the rest of the body. Muscles intimately attach to the spine and allow movement and activity. Disorders of the spinal column may interfere with the bony structures of the spinal column (e.g.: arthritis), the muscles that attach to it (e.g.: trauma), or the nerves that pass through (e.g.: intervertebral disc disease or a “slipped disc”). Symptoms of spinal injury include: pain along the spine, weakness, inability to walk or stand, and restlessness. Spinal injury requires immediate veterinary attention.
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