Rickets in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Changes in the quality of food affect the incidence of rickets in dogs. It occurs less and less often, which can not but rejoice, since this disease disfigures the animal and gives it severe suffering. However, the rarity of the disease does not mean its complete absence.

The main danger is that an inexperienced person can easily miss the first signs of the disease in their pet, just bought a puppy or newborn offspring.

Girl hold the dog

Causes of the disease

Rickets is a deficiency of vitamin D in the body, which leads to disorders in the formation, formation and development of bones. If for some reason there is a lack of vitamin D, its metabolites involved in the absorption of calcium, at the time of the most intensive growth of the bone skeleton, this affects the mineralization of bones and their growth, as well as the shape.

In General, rickets is most noticeable for the curvature and weakness of the limbs, but all bones suffer from the disease without exception.

In dogs, the disease can occur for the following reasons:

  1. Heredity.
  2. Genetic failure during fetal development caused by disease, toxins, insufficient or unbalanced nutrition.
  3. Problems with the absorption of vitamin D through the skin.
  4. Disorders of the parathyroid glands.

Since rickets in its “pure form” in domestic, especially purebred dogs is quite rare, it is often confused with secondary feed hyperparathyroidism, that is, with problems with the parathyroid glands.

Such difficulties in determining the disease require mandatory diagnostics in a veterinary clinic, since two different diseases are treated with completely different means.

Moreover, it is not always possible to get rid of rickets only by sunbathing or even using vitamin D, since the disease is associated with a whole complex of disorders — a deficiency of vitamin D and calcium, as well as an excess of phosphorus.

Treatment is complicated by the fact that there are several forms of vitamin D:

  • cholecalciferol, which is produced in the skin under the influence of solar radiation and enters the dog’s body with food;
  • ergocalciferol, delivered to the body exclusively through food.

In order to cure an animal, you need to quickly respond to the first signs of the disease, get diagnosed and start the correct treatment prescribed by an experienced veterinarian.

Shar Pei puppy on the bed

Which breeds are more susceptible

It is impossible to single out any one breed that suffers more than others from rickets or does not have a tendency to this disease. Affected dogs of all breeds and mongrels, too.

The risk group includes those breeds whose representatives received congenital skeletal pathologies during the selection process — Basset hounds, dachshunds, Rottweilers, bulldogs and other dogs with a “raw” Constitution and crooked short limbs, a long body.

With the development of rickets, changes in the skeleton of such animals are especially noticeable. The same can be said about dogs with a graceful Constitution and thin legs, especially in Chihuahuas. Deformities of their limbs are immediately noticeable and should seriously alarm the owner. Healthy dogs don’t just bend their bones.

The main symptoms

While the bitch feeds the puppies with breast milk, the problem does not appear, since the food contains all the necessary substances in ideal proportions. Rickets usually manifests itself after the puppy goes on an independent diet. If the food is chosen incorrectly, or other problems are added, the balance is disturbed, and signs of rickets may appear:

  1. A sick puppy stands out in the litter for its small size, it is the weakest and smallest, stronger brothers and sisters often offend it and take away food.
  2. The dog is characterized by an unsociable or extremely affectionate, “clingy” disposition.
  3. Unlike its larger and stronger counterparts, it gets tired quickly, can often sit down or lie down, its paws tremble, and its gait becomes uneven. Sometimes these animals suffer from cramps and spasms due to weak muscles and bones.
  4. Usually sick puppies have an excellent appetite, but after eating they may feel sick, they have constipation or diarrhea, and the conditions can regularly change each other.
  5. With good nutrition, the dog’s ribs and spine protrude, and the limbs become weak and crooked. A characteristic sign of rickets is a large belly with a General thinness and crooked paws.
  6. The joints of the animal are enlarged, and knotty formations appear on some bones (ribs). The joints are not just enlarged — their shape is changed.
  7. When moving, the owner may notice that the puppy puts its paws strangely, as if turning them in or out. Sometimes it can be only one paw or even separate joints, such as the metatarsal parts of the foot, fingers.
  8. When examining the teeth, you need to pay attention to the condition of the enamel. In a healthy dog, it is smooth, white and shiny. One of the signs of rickets is a change in the color and texture of enamel — it can be grayish or yellowish, become matte, as if porous. There may also be deviations in the process of changing baby teeth to permanent ones.

Examination of the dog's teeth

The sooner the owner notices deviations in the behavior and health of the puppy, the sooner it will be possible to start treatment. Rickets is dangerous not only for the violation of the functions and condition of the skeleton. Deformity of the bones leads to the fact that the internal organs are displaced, and this has an extremely negative impact on the overall health and development of the dog.

Diagnostics in a veterinary clinic

If you develop rickets, you can make a conclusion even by the appearance of the animal, but the veterinarian will definitely conduct a full examination, check the movement and feel the joints and limbs of the dog. Then it will send the animal for tests and examinations:

  1. Blood biochemistry.
  2. Calcium and phosphorus levels.
  3. The x-rays.

Based on the data obtained, doctors will conclude what caused the symptoms, and whether it is really rickets or manifestations of parathyroid gland disorders. This is very important, as it affects the choice of treatment and medication.

It is especially necessary to determine the level of phosphorus and calcium, as this analysis will allow the veterinarian to make the right menu or prescribe appropriate medications to compensate for the missing mineral.

Treatment method and prognosis

In the early stages of the disease, it is quite easy to cope with it. In most cases, it is enough to change the dog’s diet to a balanced one. Ready-made products that will be selected by a veterinarian are best suited.

In cases where there are noticeable changes in the skeleton, or the puppies are already large, you will have to use medication — calcium and vitamin D preparations in combination with radiation under an ultraviolet lamp. You can only give medications as prescribed by a doctor, since sometimes calcium or vitamin tablets can even harm, for example, if the animal has an excess of phosphorus in its body.

It is recommended to walk the dog regularly in a calm rhythm, without unnecessary running and haste, since a weakened animal does not need additional loads on the diseased bones. But the movement is useful, as it strengthens the muscles. A strong muscular frame prevents further curvature of the bones.

Unfortunately, if rickets is detected late (after 12 months), no medications will correct the deformed skeleton. Such animals need to change their diet and try to remove excess phosphorus from the body if there is an overabundance. It is very important to strengthen the muscles so that they take on some of the load that the weakened and deformed parts of the skeleton cannot withstand.

A collar by the dog

To avoid irreparable consequences, the dog must be properly fed, walked in the sun and regularly visited by a veterinarian.

What to do at home

If a puppy is diagnosed with rickets, it is equally important for the owner to avoid two extremes — to pamper the dog in every possible way, not allowing it to move, so as not to increase the curvature of the bones, or Vice versa, to “drive” it too intensively to strengthen the muscles.

It is important to use the right professional food, give the dog all possible physical activity, do not forget about the need for ultraviolet radiation for health, but do not keep the animal under the scorching rays of the sun — this can cause burns and even sunstroke.

If there are a lot of puppies and the weak are offended, the owner will have to feed the baby separately, so that he gets a full portion, and he grows strong and strong.

Possible complications

The most serious thing that threatens a sick animal is pathological fractures with a strong curvature of the bones and “leaching” of calcium from them. In addition, the deformed skeleton is not able to support the normal functioning of the dog, and it will have problems with mobility, difficulties in socialization. Crooked, damaged limbs will not allow the dog to lead a normal active lifestyle.

If the disease is advanced, the animal may become disabled. Rickets can lead to disruption of the functioning of internal organs, especially the cardiovascular system.

Prevention measures (diet)

Since rickets occurs when eating disorders and lack of natural sunlight, the main ways to prevent it are proper feeding of the puppy, the use of balanced professional food and walking in the fresh air. The dog must eat either ready-made food, or its menu of home-made products should be made by a professional, taking into account age, weight, activity and health status.

A dog feeding

Since the disease may appear for other reasons, the puppy should be regularly shown to the veterinarian and follow all his recommendations. If the owner himself noticed signs of ill health, you can not be Amateur and try to treat the animal with children’s drugs for rickets, give vitamins or mineral supplements, stuff it with cottage cheese, jelly, jelly and brain bones.

First you need to find out the cause of the disease and pass tests, and then take adequate measures. Only in this way you can not harm, but improve the health of the dog.

Regular walks on the street help the animal to improve its health, even if the owner believes that the dog does not spend much time in the sun. It should be remembered that ultraviolet rays can penetrate even through glass, so that when walking in the shade and partial shade, the animal will receive the necessary dose of radiation that contributes to the production of vitamin D.