Two ways to mess up a limping puppy

August 1, 2016
Jennifer L. Wardlaw, DVM, MS, DACVS
Jennifer L. Wardlaw, DVM, MS, DACVS

Dr. Jennifer L. Wardlaw, pictured with her bullmastiff Emma Corilata, is a concierge surgeon at Gateway Veterinary Surgery in St. Louis, Missouri.Little known fact: Dr. Wardlaw says she isn't afraid to binge watch cartoons, even when her kids aren't around.

This veterinary surgeon sees two diseases overlooked in limping puppy cases. Watch those radiographs!

Before deciding on treatment, before nailing down a surgery time, don't skimp on the radiographs with initial stabs at these two conditions, says Jennifer Wardlaw, DVM, MS, DACVS. a concierge surgeon at Gateway Veterinary Surgery in St. Louis, Missouri.

Osteocondrosis dissecans (OCD)

"You have a puppy limping on one leg, and people forget how often these are bilateral," she says.

Even if the patient isn't limping on the other side, closely examine the radiographs and include that in your orthopedic exams.

"Eighty percent of shoulders in OCD cases are bilateral," she says.

Panosteitis vs. hypertrophic osteodystrophy (HOD)

Wardlaw says she understands why clinicians jump to conclusions when they think they see HOD.

"You're comfortable with [seeing and diagnosing HOD], you're familiar with that, you see it on the long bones, you feel the pain," she says.

And the temptation may be to stop there, without taking all the radiographs you need to make sure it's HOD and not panosteitis.

"Without looking at that metaphysis, you're not gonna know," she says. And that's important, because you won't treat the two the same.

"A young dog can have a fever and feel bad, and it can absolutely affect the growth plates, which is going to give them a much poorer prognosis in the severe cases," she says. "Don't just assume shifting-leg lameness in a young dog is panosteitis."

Dr. Wardlaw covers it in the video below.