Some dogs are naturally a bit bow-legged, especially those with short legs, like Basset Hounds and Dachshunds. But when pet parents observe painful curving or twisting of the long bones of the legs, an abnormal angular limb deformity could be the culprit.
Angular limb deformities result when one area of the bone grows at a different rate than another, such as when there is damage at the growth plate or when a fracture heals incorrectly. This puts painful stress on the joints at either end of those bones. Angular limb deformities are most commonly seen in the front limbs, so discomfort often shows in the elbows and/or wrists.
For many pets, corrective surgery is the best option. Young pets may qualify for a simpler bone shortening procedure, while older pets often need surgical re-alignment of the bones to relieve joint stress. Your veterinarian may refer you to an orthopedic specialist, who could choose to use internal fixation (like a bone plate) or external fixation (like a cast) to stabilize the corrected bone.
Either way, your post-operative pet will require a little extra TLC. The prognosis for pets with corrected angular limb deformities is good. Once the bones heal, they’re pain-free and back on four paws again!