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My Dogs front leg is bow-legged.

by
Dr. Colleen Skavinsky
I have a male Havanese, Jack, currently 17 months old. Recently, when I had him shaved down, I discovered that his right front leg is different than the left. The left looks "normal" but for duck-footing or out-toeing. His right front leg, however, is bow-legged with an enlarged and what looks to be a displaced knee joint. (Both front feet pointed straight forward as a young puppy; now both front feet out-toe about 30-35 degrees.) Jack's function and activity don't seem to be affected in any way: he runs, plays, does agility, and walks trails without any discomfort or awkwardness or limping that I can see. The only sign of any discomfort is that he will lightly pull his right leg back if you rub too tightly over that knee joint. I'm wondering if this is something that should be checked now with a thought to avoiding joint problems later in life? And if it should be checked sooner, how soon; i.e., would it be okay to leave it until next spring with his annual check-up (assuming there is no other need for a vet visit between now and then)? Thank you for whatever direction you can give!
I would recommend that you have Jack x-rayed sooner than later to ensure that there are no problems that may be corrected with early intervention. I do see from your post that he is over a year old and would expect that he is full grown for a Havanese. Angular limb deformity can be caused by several issues. However, there is usually involvement of the growth plates of the bones of the forearm (the radius and the ulna) and how these bones meet at the wrist and the elbow. The growth plates are the sites at either end of the long bones that produce new bone and result in length and growth in the maturing dog.

Genetics certainly can play a part and some breeds are more prone to angular limb deformities. My biggest concern revolves around you mentioning that you do agility with Jack. Jumping down from any height will put extra stress on those little front legs, especially if there are wrist, elbow, or growth plate issues. You and your veterinarian want to ensure that there are no on-going problems which may limit how much he is able to perform jumping tasks in the future.

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