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Orthopaedic consults begin with lameness evaluation and are done to evaluate specific and non specific lameness in dogs and cats to obtain a definitive diagnosis and to propose a comprehensive treatment plan. Evaluation involves physical examination, gait evaluation, x rays and lab tests. In certain cases, CT and MRI procedures are advocated.

Lameness refers to an inability to use one or more limbs in a normal manner. Lameness of unknown origin is common in dogs of all types and sizes. It is most often associated with pain or injury. The most common causes of acute or sudden lameness in dogs are injury to a joint, bone fracture or dislocation. Osteoarthritis hip dysplasia, Cruciate ligament rupture and patellar luxations may also cause lameness in dogs. Lameness can affect dogs of any age from growing puppies to senior dogs.

  • Puppies – lameness may be caused by growth abnormalities or by injury
  • Adult Dogs – limb injuries sometimes occur without any history of an accident or trauma
  • Senior Dogs – Degenerative joint disease (DJD) or arthritis are the most common causes of lameness

Signs to look for

  • Limp or not bearing weight of affected limb
  • Pain, Swelling, abnormal movement / shortening or lengthening of affected limb

Treatment depends on the diagnosis. Some forms of lameness such as osteoarthritis require lifelong medical treatment while others such as patellar luxations and fractures will require surgical repair. Delayed cases of spinal cord injuries are difficult to treat.