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Bone Diseases in Dogs

Dog with Skeletal Disorder

Dogs are prone to a number of diseases that affect the skeletal system, resulting in lameness or bone deformities. These diseases can be congenital, hereditary, infectious, or inflammatory, metabolic, traumatic, or neoplastic. A congenital disease is one a dog is born with. Hereditary conditions are passed on from one or both of the parents. Infectious or inflammatory diseases can be caused by injury, degeneration from age, or bacterial contamination of a joint through a wound. Metabolic diseases result from too much or too little of a particular hormone or other substance in the body. Traumatic injuries include getting hit by a car and breaking a leg. Neoplastic diseases are caused by cancer.

Skeletal (bone and joint) disorders are divided into two major categories: developmental and degenerative problems.Developmental problems (such as hip dysplasia) arise where the joint does not develops incorrectly.Degenerative problems (such as osteoarthritis), on the other hand,  are caused over time through wear and tear and stress on the bones and joints.

Bone physiology in dogs is very different than humans, so the typical osteoporotic concerns that humans have are generally very rare in canines. Nonetheless, there are certain bone conditions that can affect dogs. These can be hereditary or breed-related (genetic deformities), cancer-related (osteosarcoma), or caused by other factors. The following are a few of the commonly found bone diseases and conditions found in dogs:


Osteomyelitis is inflammation of the bone, usually caused by a bacterial infection. It is often seen in dogs following a traumatic bone injury (where there is an open wound), post-operatively after orthopedic procedures (such as bone fracture repair or TPLO). This condition can delay or prevent union of the bone, and is usually treated with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications.

Bone tumors in dogs 

Can be both benign and malignant. The most common bone tumor is osteosarcoma of the radius, humerus, femur, or tibia.Osteosarcoma is a rapidly growing and destructive cancer of the bone. This condition is more commonly seen in senior, large breed dogs. In the case of osteosarcoma, early detection is key to the survival of the dog, as treatment can involve extensive chemotheraphy and surgery. Also, Dogs that are between 7-10 years generally have a better chance of survival than younger and older dogs.

Nutrition-Related Bone Conditions in Dogs 

Are sometimes seen in dogs when they are not fed the right diet for their breed/weight/or age. The bone is a dynamic structure that constantly remodels and is replaced several times in a dogs lifetime. Ensuring that a dog has the proper nutrition required for strong bones is important to ensuring that the dog stays healthy. Reduced bone mass, bone deformities, bony growths, fractures, and loose teeth are all conditions that can result from nutritional deficiencies.

This content is written by our Clinical Advisory Board for informational purposes only. It should not be viewed as an endorsement for any product or as a substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.