The musculoskeletal system of large breed dogs requires much more energy during their development than other breeds. Because of this, During the first 12 months of life, the probability of developing osteoarticular abnormalities is high.
This is given because large dogs, to reach their normal adult size, develop at high speed. As a result, it can result in deformations, demineralization of bones, etc.
Osteodystrophies in large breed dogs
The word osteodystrophy refers to a bone being ‘poorly fed’, that is, that it has an excess or a lack of nutrients, such as calcium or phosphorus. When a dog has ‘little bone’ we talk about osteopenia and, when it has ‘a lot of bone’, about osteomegaly.
The reasons why puppies suffer from osteopenias are:
- Osteoporosis for protein malnutrition.
- Rickets due to low mineralization due to a deficit of vitamin D.
- Fibrous osteodystrophy: demineralization caused by calcium mobilization, often caused by a total lack of calcium in the diet.
Osteomegalies in large-breed puppies are a consequence of many factors, such as genetics, nutrition or environmental.
This pathology is one of the most frequent diseases, especially in German shepherds, in which they can occur in more than 70% of cases. The symptoms of this disease can vary widely, from a slight limp in one leg, difficulty or pain to walk to the total inability to stand.
Hip dysplasia can be genetic, derived from the crossing or breeding of animals that already suffer from it. It can also derive from a work overload during the development of the puppy.
An x-ray of a can with hip dysplasia shows that the acetabulum – a region where the hip joins the head of the femur – does not have enough depth. On the other hand, the head of the femur itself appears flattened, which leads to dislocation of the joint and osteoarthritis.
Legg-Calvé-Perthes syndrome in large breeds
This syndrome is characterized by a necrosis of the head of the femur and is common in dogs of large breeds. Sometimes, it can be solved with surgery, but the necrosis can also be left to affect the head of the femur and then regenerate on its own. During this period, the dog should keep as much rest as possible, avoid runs and jumps.
Hypertrophic osteodystrophy affects the region of bone growth. The bone marrow is affected and internal inflammation occurs which causes microfractures in the bone.
The treatment consists of the use of anti-inflammatories and a balanced diet rich in nutrients. Healing usually occurs spontaneously.
Shoulder osteochondrosis occurs in growing dogs of large and giant breeds. The cartilage of the head of the humerus suffers an injury called “failure” that causes the thickening of the entire cartilage that is formed by defective cells that end up dying. This causes an incorrect union between the bone and the cartilage.
The reason for this disease is multifactorial, although it is believed that race and nutrition are among the key factors:
- Fast growth.
- Anatomical abnormalities
- Incorrect diet with excess nutrients or supercharged animals.
Non-union of the anonymous process
The non-union of the anonymous process or, more commonly known as elbow dysplasia, it consists of a lag in the growth of the ulna and radius bones. This causes one of the two bones to grow faster than the other and there is a pressure in the elbow joint.
In most cases, to solve the problem, you go to surgery, which usually removes a fragment of the bone and redirects it.
Nutrition in dogs of large breeds
Just as the diet varies according to the age of the dog, it also changes according to its breed or size in the case of crossings. Large and giant breed dogs have very different energy and nutritional requirements than other breeds. Therefore, it is essential to discuss with the veterinarian the type of food that a dog should take.
As we have seen, Both an excess and a nutritional deficiency can lead to major health disorders of our large breed puppy. In addition, sometimes it is advisable to use nutritional supplements for the health of dogs’ joints. On the other hand, when adopting a dog, you must take into account the possible pathologies that could suffer throughout its development.