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Many people when they buy a Basset Hound Puppy cannot understand why reputable breeders ask them to be so careful with their new puppy - don’t allow it to jump on and off furniture, go up and down steps or stairs or walk them too far - only short walks for at least 6 months, then gradually build their walks up from there, little by little. The reasons for the breeders concerns are explained here.
Bone problems in young dogs
Puppies continue to grow and develop for months or years after birth. Giant breeds may not reach full adult size for 18 months or 2 years. During this growth period they are at particular risk from bone and joint disorders. Some of these are inherited such as elbow dysplasia. Damage can also result from traumatic injury, over exercise, allowing young puppies to climb up and down and on/off the furniture.
Why is bone injury in puppies so serious?
Puppies and young dogs have enormous healing potential and bone fractures, once treated, can heal rapidly and completely. When a puppy is born the ends of each bone are soft and it is from these soft parts that the bone continues to extend as the puppy grows. These are called growth plates. Because the growth plates are softer they are a weak point of the bone in a growing animal. Once the dog reaches adult size the growth plates close and become bony. Any damage to the growth plates of bones prevents the bone from growing normally. This happens to the bones in the leg this can have severe consequences and limb shortening or deformity can result.
How does a growth plate become damaged?
Sometimes, surprisingly mild trauma, e.g. a knock or bang to the leg that does not break the skin can cause injury to the growth plates. For this reason, traumatic injury to the bones or joints of puppies and young dogs should always be reported to your vet. It may be necessary to monitor the injury over weeks and/or months to ensure that limb deformity is not occurring. If growth plate damage is suspected treatment must start early to limit the adverse effects of interruptions in bone growth. The area most at risk is towards the lower end of the front limbs, around the wrist (or carpus) joint, above the paw. This is an important growth plate responsible for increasing the length of the forelimb is present just beneath the skin where it is very vulnerable to injury.
Can bone disease be caused by bad diet?
A balanced diet is very important for the development of healthy bones. Dogs fed a diet which does not contain enough calcium do not develop strong bones. Puppies fed an all meat diet may develop bone disease. However, it is important to stress that a balanced diet is key to healthy puppy and feeding excess calcium supplements can be just as dangerous as not giving enough.
The early months of a puppy’s life are important for its later development. If you are getting a puppy for the first time listen to what your breeder has to say, and discuss any concerns with your vet and they will be able to give you advice on all aspects of your puppy’s care.
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