Orthopedics is the area of medicine that deals with disorders of the bones, joints and spine. Animals, like people, can develop health issues in these areas that affect their ability to move comfortably and normally.

At Quartz Hill Veterinary Clinic, we help pets maintain healthy mobility throughout life.

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Common Orthopedic Problems in Pets

Osteoarthritis is one of the most common orthopedic problems in older pets. The wear and tear of normal movement can wear down the protective cartilage that helps to cushion joints. When this occurs, pain, stiffness and limited range of motion can result. Some breeds of dog are also vulnerable to slippage of the kneecap, a condition called “luxating patella.”

Other breeds may be prone to problems of the spinal discs. Hip dysplasia is another common problem in some breeds. Although cats are less prone to orthopedic problems than dogs, they may develop osteoarthritis of the joints as they age or become injured by accidents.

Diagnosing Orthopedic Problems in Pets

The vet will give your pet a thorough examination and observe how your pet moves. Your vet may also order blood testing to understand your pet’s general health and to ensure that other problems are not causing orthopedic issues. Generally, x-rays are done to view the hard structures inside the animal’s body. Your vet may also do ultrasound testing that uses sound waves to bounce off soft tissue in the body. This type of test can provide information about cartilage, ligaments and tendons that may be damaged.

Orthopedic Procedures Your Veterinarian Can Offer

Orthopedic care is becoming an important part of the lifelong care your veterinarian can offer to help your pet live a long and active life. Medications and therapy can help older animals with arthritis enjoy greater comfort and easier movement. Surgical procedures to repair torn cruciate ligaments, stabilize subluxating patellas and improve movement in the hips and spine provide successful outcomes for animals. Physical therapy and other modalities often speed healing and a return to normal function for these patients.