Jump to section

What is Front Leg Deformity?

Depending on the reason for the deformity, there can be a breed or age predisposition. For example, Bulldogs, Lhasa Apso, and Shih Tzu are prone to angular limb deformity (ALD), while puppies can develop carpal hyperextension as they grow. Causes for front leg deformity can be injury, premature closure of the growth plate, or an inherited predisposition. The aim of treatment is to correct the deformity in pursuance of a pain-free, comfortable gait for the dog all the while preventing further damage that can result.

Front leg deformity is a condition that results in a disparity of limb length, reduced mobility in joints, and painful lameness. It can take many forms, and while your dog may not appear to be in pain, untreated front leg deformity will eventually lead to extreme discomfort for your pet. Consultation with a qualified veterinarian is imperative in order to resolve the deformity before it becomes unbearable for your dog.

Nutramax Dasuquin Soft Chews

Joint supplement for dogs

Shop now
advertisement image

Front Leg Deformity Average Cost

From 63 quotes ranging from $500 - $10,000

Average Cost

$8,000

Symptoms of Front Leg Deformity in Dogs

Though your dog may not be showing signs that lead you to suspect the deformity needs to be addressed, we must remember that canines are quite adept at working through pain, and attempting just to be themselves. However, a front leg deformity will eventually lead to more severe complications. If you see your pet exhibiting any of the symptoms below, a visit to the veterinarian is a must:

  • Limping or lameness
  • Discomfort when rising
  • Reduced function of the limb
  • Abnormal extension of the limb
  • Turning in of wrist to inside of leg
  • Swelling of leg
  • Grinding of joints
  • Front legs that are different lengths
  • Pain upon movement of joints
  • Lack of appetite
  • Fever
Types
  • Angular Limb Disorder (ALD)
    • An abnormal development of the foreleg bones (radius and ulna)
    • Can lead to shortened limb and bending or twisting of leg
    • Can be hereditary
    • Predisposition in Dachshunds, Basset Hounds, Bulldogs, Pugs and Boston Terriers
  • Antebrachial Growth Deformity (AGD)
    • This can happen because of a premature closing of the growth plate
    • Compromises limb function and involves joint pain, decreased range of motion, and a default in normal leg length
    • Can eventually lead to osteoarthritis of the elbow and carpal joints if left untreated
  • Carpal Hyperextension
    • Puppies will have an abnormal development of ligaments that support the carpal joint
    • Older dogs will experience a degenerative hyperextension of the wrists (older Collies are predisposed)
    • Can also result from a sprain or trauma
  • Retained Ulnar Cartilage Cores
    • Occurs in young, large breed dogs
    • Is a disorder of the growth plate in the ulna
    • Bones form abnormally because the bone has not hardened properly
    • Diet may play a role
  • Elbow Dysplasia
    • Occurs when the bones that form the elbow do not fit together properly
    • Is most commonly seen in young large and giant breed canines
    • Can be genetic
    • Can progress to arthritis
  • Inherited Premature Closure of the Distal Ulnar Physis
    • Usually presents in dogs between the ages of three and five months
    • Can be seen in Basset Hounds, Welsh Corgis, and Sky Terriers
    • Results in circumduction (circular movement) of the limb
arrow-up-icon

Top

Causes of Front Leg Deformity in Dogs

Front leg deformity can occur for a number of reasons. Many of the causes known to veterinarians are listed below:

  • Fracture
  • Degeneration
  • Injury before growth plate has matured
  • Improper alignment of bones
  • A pair of bones may have disparity in growth rate, causing one of the pair to bow
  • Trauma, or fall on a front limb
  • Damage to the blood supply of a growth plate
  • Genetics
  • Obesity during puppyhood
  • Improper diet and supplementation (deficiency in Vitamin D, excessive calcium or Vitamin C or A)
  • Foods too high in fat and protein may lead to weaker growth plates and bone
arrow-up-icon

Top

Diagnosis of Front Leg Deformity in Dogs

With front leg deformity, the diagnosis method is similar in many cases. The veterinarian will need to take radiographs in order to diagnose the extent of the deformity, to see the extent of the hyperextension, or to assess the damage to ligaments. Checking for broken bones will also be part of the x-ray process.

Your dog will be sedated or put under general anesthesia for the radiographs. If additional imaging is necessary, as is sometimes the case when more detail or better clarity is required, a CT scan or MRI may be performed.

In the situation of elbow dysplasia, a technique called an arthroscopy is used to diagnose joint problems. Done under general anesthesia, this procedure allows the veterinary surgeon to view the inside of the joint. With this technique, correction of the problem is sometimes possible while in the exploratory stage.

Blood tests may be performed to check for nutritional deficiencies.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Treatment of Front Leg Deformity in Dogs

Treatment of the deformity will depend on the cause and the extent of the problem. The goal is always to correct the position and length of the limb and regain comfortable joint movement. Of course, preventing further complications that can be secondary to the deformity is of utmost importance, too.

The treatment protocol may involve diet, surgery, splints or physical therapy. For example:

  • Antebrachial Growth Deformity
    • Corrective surgery will be done, conducive to stabilizing the limb with external or internal braces or framework. Sometimes cutting the bone, with the goal of realignment or equalizing bone length, is a success.
  • Carpal Hyperextension
    • The use of support splints, bandages, and physiotherapy, can bring resolution. In some cases, the complete or partial fusion of the carpus is necessary. A procedure called arthrodesis is done to fuse the forelimb and paw using internal plates and screws.
  • Retained Ulnar Cartilage Cores
    • This deformity is treated with diet change. Adherence to a complete and balanced diet, with the removal of excess supplementation can have a favorable outcome.

Other treatments for front leg deformity include removal of part of a bone or plate. Some severe cases of front leg deformity will require complete amputation of the limb. It should be noted that most dogs can function very well on three legs.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Recovery of Front Leg Deformity in Dogs

The prognosis for a dog with front leg deformity is good; however, there can be some obstacles to face during a surgical recovery period:

  • Risk of infection around the implants
  • Breakage of the surgical repair (screws, etc.)
  • Poor bone healing

You may find that there is a need for an Elizabethan collar to prevent your dog from licking the surgical site. The veterinarian will be able to provide this for you if required.

Many dogs, as they recover from surgery, have a lack of appetite. This should be of no concern for a day or two. If your pet still has no interest in food, try softening it and warming it up to increase palatability.

Constipation is often a post-surgery complication; you can expect limited bowel movements for a few days simply due to the fact that your dog did not consume much food before and after the operation. Some medication for pain and inflammation may cause constipation as well. If you are concerned, contact the veterinarian for advice.

Vomiting can occur for a period of time after the surgery. As dogs recover from the anesthesia, they can experience nausea. Allow your pet plenty of rest and quiet time to recover from the stress and fatigue of a surgical intervention. As always, let the veterinarian know how your pet is doing, and do not hesitate to contact the clinic with any questions or concerns.

arrow-up-icon

Top

Cost of Front Leg Deformity in Dogs

There are a few different potential causes for a front leg deformity. Each potential cause has its own treatment options and overall cost. Antebrachial growth deformities can usually be fixed with surgery ($1,000-$2,800). The veterinarian may decide to cut the bone to properly realign it. Once the bone is realigned, the veterinarian will need to fit your dog for a cast ($100-$200). The total cost to treat this type of deformity ranges between $1,100 and $2,500. Carpal Hyperextension can be a little pricier to treat. The veterinarian will likely choose to fuse the carpus (arthrodesis) using plates and screws ($3,000-$5,000). The veterinarian will then stabilize the leg with a splint ($30-$60) and supportive bandages ($5-$10). It is best to follow this procedure with physical therapy ($75 per day). The overall cost of treating this deformity can vary from $3,110 to $5,145. Retained Ulnar Cartilage Cores is usually treated by changing your dog’s diet. Choosing an overall health and wellness dog food ($20-$30 per bag) usually does the trick! Your veterinarian may choose amputation ($400-$600) to ensure the overall safety of your dog.

arrow-up-icon

Top

*Wag! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Items are sold by the retailer, not Wag!.

Front Leg Deformity Average Cost

From 63 quotes ranging from $500 - $10,000

Average Cost

$8,000

arrow-up-icon

Top

Front Leg Deformity Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

question-icon-cta

Ask a Vet

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Silver Labrador

dog-age-icon

9 weeks

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

We got a silver lab who had bowed legs. She has been getting worse. Her toes are now spreading apart slightly. We ordered supplements for her and put her on adult food. Will having her wear corrective braces fix the issue? Does it cause her pain? She also has a seemingly abnormal amount of eye boogers and tears. The lining is red. Could this just be summer allergies?

Aug. 1, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, without being able to assess her conformation, I cannot say what the best therapy may be, but I think that working with your veterinarian or an orthopedic veterinarian would be a good idea. I don't know if her corrective braces are painful for her without seeing them, sadly. These are all very good questions for you to discuss with your veterinarian, as they can see her and help you with her treatment. These treatments require frequent rechecks and reevaluations, to monitor changes and response. I hope that all goes well for her.

Aug. 1, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

pit bull mix

dog-age-icon

8 weeks

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Dog'S Front Legs Become Bowed After Walking For A Few Minutes.

Hi my new puppy, a mutt of possible pit bull or american mix, has been walking bow legged for two days now. After ten or so minutes of walking and playing, the puppy's legs start to bow from the wrists. At first I thought it was her nails getting too long. But today at the vets office, my vet said bowing can be a number of conditions such as bad nutrition, injury, fast growing bones, etc. Just now I found info on leg braces for dogs with bowed legs. Is this an option for us?

July 31, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Jessica N. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Hello- This is a great question for your vet. In my opinion braces for puppies are usually not effective and probably aren’t a good idea. I would recommend making sure your puppy is an appropriate large breed puppy formula and considering scheduling an appointment with a veterinary rehabilitation service so that they can work on rehabilitation exercises to strengthen his muscles and limbs. They will also have suggestions for exercises you can work on at home. I hope he recovers quickly.

July 31, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Siberian Husky

dog-age-icon

Two Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

None

Front leg abnormalities

July 30, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Sara O. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Hello, I do not see any abnormalities in the picture you provided. Many leg issues do improve as your dog grows. It would be best for your vet to look at his legs and make sure that he does not need to be on any special diets or supplements to help these legs grow normally.

July 30, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Mixed breed spaniel

dog-age-icon

1yr

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Bowed Legs

Looking at rescue for this 1 yr old 12 lb mixed breed spaniel. (Looks like a dachshund with long hair & tricolor). She has Valgus Deformity “believed to be caused by uneven bone growth” “No evidence this causing discomfort” I do not know anything about this condition. To me the dog resembles a long hair mini dachshund and tri color cavalier. Will this condition cause arthritis & pain as she ages? Is surgery recommended

July 29, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Michele K. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. Valgus deformity is somewhat normal in dachshunds, as their bones are a little bit deformed as a breed. It can be somewhat normal, but it can also cause problems, and it may cause long-term arthritis. Since I cannot see her, and the severity of the deformity may affect her long-term quality of life, it would probably be best to have a Veterinary Examination for her before you rescue or adopt her. Chances are good that it will not affect her quality of life, but it would be better safe than sorry, or at least to know what you were in for when you rescued her. I hope that all goes well and that you are able to keep her.

July 30, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

dog-breed-icon

Doberman

dog-age-icon

17 weeks

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Born With Out The Radius Bone.

Our pup zues was born with out his radius bone (confirmed with xrays) and we have 2 choices. 1. Colorado university can work with straightening out the leg and putting in some type of stunt or pin to TRY to save the leg. Choice 1 is most likely really high in cost but it will also put zues in a lot of pain and it may not work. Choice 2 is amputation,and although it's been proven that dogs do great with three legs, is it an absolute choice that he cant live with his limb. Zues is currently scheduled September 8th for surgery. I want to be assured I'm making the best decision for him and his limb

July 22, 2020

Owner

answer-icon

Dr. Gina U. DVM

recommendation-ribbon

0 Recommendations

Hello Thank you for question. I know this is a hard decision for you. Picking the option that causes they least amount of pain would be best. Option one sounds like it could be two surgeries - one to put the pin in, and two, if it does not work, a surgery to remove the pin or amputate. Versus the second option of just amputating and letting your pup live his life as a three-legged dog. Good luck and I wish you and your pet the best.

July 22, 2020

Was this experience helpful?

dog-name-icon

Teemo

dog-breed-icon

Shih Tzu

dog-age-icon

8 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Crooked Paw

My 8 month old Bichon-shitzhu has crooked front legs, did not notice earlier but I can see its not straight , but he runs/walks perfectly normal, good on stairs too. I just wonder this is something I need to do about . most people says bit of crooked legs are fine if dog acts normal ..i am just not sure.

dog-name-icon

Eleanor

dog-breed-icon

Corgi

dog-age-icon

5 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Ankle
Back Leg Problems

I recently saved a 5 month old corgi puppy. I was told when she was born she was labled handicap she was unable to bend her back ankles. I got her about a month ago one of her ankles started working properly on its own one day. The back ankle that she still unable to bend doesnt seem to bother her she is happy as can be runs, jumps, plays like any other puppy. Im just wondering what this could be and how is it treated. I also forgot 3 other puppies in her litter also had this same issue.

dog-name-icon

Lt. Dan

dog-breed-icon

pit mix

dog-age-icon

1 Day

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Front Paw Bent Inward

My dog Hope gave birth to 4 normal and healthy puppies. However,the 5th puppy was born with it's front right paw bent inward at either the elbow or the wrist. What could be the cause of such deformity?

dog-name-icon

Poppy

dog-breed-icon

Border Collie

dog-age-icon

8 Months

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Limp

We’re looking into adopting an 8 month old border collie mix from a shelter and she was born with a deformed front leg. A part of the leg is just missing which makes her limp while walking since she still tries to use it. All other three legs seems to be healthy. The shelter says that she will probably need some medical care in the future to help her stabilize her walk. We’re now wondering what that kind of care could be. Is a prosthetic leg an option or is amputation a better solution? We’d love to be able to give her a long and happy life but want to make sure we have the resources to do so. Pictures of the pup and her short leg can be found here https://hundarutanhem.se/hundar/poppy-462/

dog-name-icon

Gio

dog-breed-icon

Mutt

dog-age-icon

3 Years

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

thumbs-up-icon

0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

No Pain

Hi, I have not met Gio yet, but I am interested in adopting him. He's on the small side (29 lbs) mixed breed male approx. 3 years old. His left front has angular deformity causing the paw to point caudally rather than cranially. His report also states "severe valgus of the radius and ulna with no evidence of fractures or luxation." He is ambulatory x4 with no lameness, no pain and the deformity is likely congenital. Although difficult to answer, with the information provided is it possible to approximate a price range for a correction procedure? Based on what I do know, how urgent will the orthopedic consultation need to be? Thank you for your time!

Front Leg Deformity Average Cost

From 63 quotes ranging from $500 - $10,000

Average Cost

$8,000

Nutramax Dasuquin Soft Chews

Joint supplement for dogs

Shop now
advertisement image