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Biomechanism of the dog (part 2)

Diseases in young dogs (like ED, HD, or the consequences of these diseases such as arthrosis) are always subject to much debate. Despite all efforts to reduce the illnesses, they are still present!  The illnesses are caused by several factors -including breeding (genetics), food/nutrition, moves/exercises, and general health, including vaccinations and deworming. Under the heading "movement" the general belief is that the duration of the movement is of vital importance.


However, unfortunately the biomechanics of the skeleton is very often disregarded as is the associated burden of individual joints or regions (thoracic limb or pelvic limb).  It makes little sense to run or walk with a growing dog a short distance only, but instead to let same dog romp and rollick about.  Due to reduced movement, the muscles cannot develop in full and therefore, the target - to make use of different forms of substratum - is being missed and left out!  As mentioned elsewhere, I distinguish between a healthy/rectilinear motion, e.g. running, trotting and galloping with and without the leash, and the unhealthy movements, for instance, wild romping; fast "stop and go"; other involuntary movements and uncontrolled and excessive jumps.  As to the importance and the recognition of biomechanics, I would like to show these in the following example.


The dog pictured is six years old and shows a clear lameness on the front right side. During the radiological examination, we found osteoarthritis, caused by ED! Treatment with anti-inflammatories and other therapies proved unsuccessful. As part of our research we measured the "pressure" and "freedom of movement" of the skeleton and the limbs.





During the first examination at the end of July, a significant lameness was discovered at the front right side as well as a serpentine motion within the whole dog. With the changes in the right elbow, the dog's body compensates the painful walk! A month later, the patient was still lame, but the pattern of movement was smoother, more even and the lameness was slightly less. We have been able to clearly display this development during the phases of  measurement (see below).



In the graphic you can see on the left side of the diagram movement of the left thoracic limb and on the right-hand side the one for the right one. The upper/first position reflects the first measurement, the second and third position refers to the second and third measurement (at an interval of ten days) again.


Immediately evident is the fact of the uniform and powerful swing lines, right and left. This in turn means that, in spite of osteoarthritis, the movements are getting smoother. Two pieces of information can be taken from these measurements.


Firstly, that in a joint with osteoarthritis, the biomechanics has to be considered as a major factor and a basic requirement (unfortunately this is forgotten in most cases). Secondly, to realize that the osteoarthritis clearly reflects a mechanical problem.


The stronger the biomechanics is now affected, the greater the inflammation (Osteoarthritis), and consequently the pain! Obviously, the better the biomechanics, movement or the movement pattern is mechanically treated through orthopedic manual therapy, the more successful the treatment of osteoarthritis and the associated pain will be.


A conclusion of the osteoarthritis therapy pilot study is the unthinkable without taking the mechanics into consideration!


A recent article published on ED in a well-known dog magazine clearly revealed that far too much attention is paid to genetics, like in the instance of and on the subject of hip and elbow dysplasia.


I would clearly like to point out that the genetic component cannot be left out! However, if you write about the genotype (hereditary picture), it is important to take the phenotype (which includes correct feeding and movement) into consideration, too.


With movement, again biomechanics has to be included on a mandatory level, in which the loading time (i.e. the time of running with a puppy) is stated only. What is completely forgotten is the fact that healthy exercise is important for an osteoarthritis patient in order to preserve the muscles and the mobility of the skeleton.  A basic prerequisite for this is harmonious biomechanics!


In my experience, it is not the duration but the kind of movement that plays the crucial and decisive role which can lead to orthopaedic disorders. Due to extreme "Stop and Go", romp abouts,  or, in short, due to jerky movements, the growing skeleton is heavily loaded and overloaded.
Joints, muscles and tendon attachment points are sometimes more, sometimes less loaded which can lead to wear and tear, as well as to inflammation. 


The figure below illustrates which factors encourage orthopaedic disorders, and how important the biomechanic is in this respect.



As is evident, and as already mentioned before, the biomechanics has a large, all too often underestimated, influence on the orthopaedic diseases. In order to better understand the aforementioned statement, we have prepared an example simulating the form-function-change and, consequently, an altered biomechanics is apparent.




The movement shown in the video reflects, in an exaggerated way, the movement patterns which dogs often show during orthopaedic examination and gait analysis. In our example, the right foot is put in a high-heel shoe, whereas the left is in a flat shoe. This is a form-function-change with different heights of the knees and pelvis and is thereby simulating an altered anatomical topline.


Through that form-change the movement pattern shows a non-flowing course, and a significant hyperextension of the left knee.





In addition, the asymmetry in the pelvis and back leads to a jerky movement causing small strokes to hips and back on each and every step!  Certainly everyone understands how unpleasant this can be. The biomechanics is thereby changed in a way that causes pain in the feet, knees, hips and back!


Please note the pictures on the photos below! Here again the form-changes are shown very impressively!



Jack the dog is showing us another example with his absolute form-change!

He can compensate the missing leg by means of an optimal weight distribution and thus can still enjoy an optimal life! This dog has fewer possibilities to compensate for any additional orthopaedic problems, therefore it is of utmost importance that Jack has orthopaedic examinations at regular intervals in order to safeguard his movement patterns as much as possible!




Orthovet Informations


Dr. med. vet.

Patrick Blättler Monnier

Fasanenstrasse 13

4402 Frenkendorf

Tel. 061 903 11 11

Fax 061 903 11 13




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Office hours

Mon  8-13 and 14-17

Tue   8-13 and 15-19

Wed  8-13 Uhr (afternoon research)

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Dr. med. vet.

Patrick Blättler Monnier

Fasanenstrasse 13

4402 Frenkendorf

Tel. 061 903 11 11

Fax 061 903 11 13




Anfahrt Kleintierpraxis


Fasanenstrasse 13

4402 Frenkendorf


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