Big dogs come with a boatload of big benefits, such as being loving, patient, loyal, and oh-so lovable.
But they also have their own specific set of health symptoms that can occur. One of these issues is knuckling.
If you have been noticing your big hound baby ‘knuckling’, you are probably feeling pretty worried about them and need to find out what is happening fast.
First up, don’t panic. Knuckling is often treatable!
However, you must find out what is causing the knuckling and what to do start to begin treating it.
We’ve got your back—because in this post we’re going to be sharing with you everything you need to know about knuckling as well as some practical solutions you can use to start treating it immediately.
What Is Knuckling In Dogs?
Knuckling is a layman’s term used to describe a symptom that can be caused by a few different underlying issues.
It can manifest as bow leggedness to the sides, or it can develop as a kind of bow leggedness to the front. This can get severe, to the point where the dog is resting completely on their ‘knees’.
Knuckling can happen in the hind limbs, but it is more common for the front legs to be affected.
If your dog is not actually on its knees, but some of its legs have a bowed, loose, rounded, or wobbly look to them in the lower section, this could be an instance of knuckling.
Milder knuckling will be most apparent if both front legs are affected.
How to Tell If It Really Is Knuckling
If you aren’t sure whether or not your dog is suffering from knuckling, here is a simple test you can do:
- Take your dog’s leg, bend the knee and place the knee on the ground
- Wait to see if the dog corrects this and picks up the foot, or if they leave it there
If your dog leaves their knee area resting on the ground, this is a sure sign that they are suffering from knuckling.
Before move forward, there is a harmless cause that you should check for: a sore paw, or a paw injury of any kind. If a dog’s paw is very sore, they might start knuckling simply to take the weight off of it.
So thoroughly inspect your dog’s paws to make sure they don’t contain thorns, injuries or swellings. If there is something wrong with one of your dog’s paws, treat the issue to prevent infection.
The Common Cause of Knuckling in Big Dogs That Are Young
Knuckling is a symptom of a few different ailments or potentially the sign of some other disease. But if you have a big young dog, then it’s highly likely that the knuckling is being caused by what is known as a carpal flexural deformity.
Carpal Flexural Deformity
Knuckling thanks to a carpal flexural deformity is one of the common health issues of big dogs. So if you have a big dog that is still a pup and is knuckling, there is a good chance that this is the problem.
Carpal flexural deformities are cases where a dog’s ‘wrist’ area hasn’t developed properly to support the weight of the dog. While this sounds serious — what with the word deformity in the mix — it is treatable.
Common Causes of Knuckling in Older Dogs
Knuckling can also occur in older dogs, thanks to a couple of degenerative related disorders. The knuckling induced by these issues can occur in a variety of breeds, including large dogs.
Knuckling in large dog breeds is more commonly experienced due to the issues outlined above, which occur before adulthood. However, it is good to know about all the causes behind knuckling, so that you can pinpoint exactly what is causing the issue in your large dog.
Arthritis in older dogs can cause dogs to start knuckling. This is due to the pain and stiffness that they may experience. If it becomes too uncomfortable to walk, some dogs may start to knuckle to relieve pressure on certain joints.
Although arthritis is most common in older dogs, young dogs can experience it too, thanks to things like bad living conditions, poor diet, trauma to a joint, hip and elbow dysplasia, and exposure to cold.
Unfortunately, arthritis is something that cannot be completely eradicated, so the best thing to do is to treat the symptoms by gently exercising your dog, giving them a good diet, feeding them joint supplements, and applying compresses to painful areas.
Knuckling in older dogs can also be a sign of degenerative myelopathy, which can sometimes be coupled with arthritis. Degenerative myelopathy is a disease that thins the cartilage tissue in the spine. As this wears away, it can cause neural malfunctions which can bring on the onset of paralysis.
This can result in wobbliness, knuckling, and other mobility and co-ordination issues.
Like arthritis, degenerative myelopathy is a non-reversible disease. Once again, the best treatments are those that target the symptoms, such as gentle exercise, a tailored diet with the addition of joint supplements, and warm living conditions.
Another root cause of knuckling in older dogs is a fibrocartilaginous embolism (FE). This is a spinal cord disorder, which is characterized by an embolism within the spinal cord. This can cause a section of the spinal cord to die, whereby the dog experiences varying degrees of paralysis.
FE is generally associated with giant dog breeds.
If a dog experiences an FE embolism, the effects will be instant. However, after the initial 24 hours, it is unlikely that it will worsen. Unfortunately, there does not exist much treatment for this except for good care, and good nutrition that is tailored to boosting joint and cartilage health.
How to Treat Knuckling in Big Dogs That Are Young
Fortunately, if your dog is young and beginning to the knuckle, there is a lot you can do to get them back on track and back to normal.
Exercise Your Pup
Exercise is highly beneficial for all muscle development, including muscles in the ‘ankle’ area. Exercise your dog regularly so that these muscles can become strong.
Give Them Surfaces to Walk on That Provide Enough Traction
It is thought that smooth surfaces which provide no grip or traction can exacerbate knuckling in dogs. If you have large areas of tiles, hardwood, or laminate in your home, this could be aggravating the problem.
Try to provide your dog with rugs and areas they can walk on which provide traction. This will also help to strengthen and develop the muscles in their ankle area.
Adjust Their Diet
Many experts believe that a large contributing factor to carpal flexural deformities (the leading cause behind knuckling in young dogs) is diet.
Also, be wary of brands of food that contain overly high levels of protein as this can exacerbate the problem, and do not mix food brands. Mixing food brands is one of the easiest ways to accidentally feed your dog too much protein.
Treat Knuckling with a Supplement Regime
Besides adjusting your dog’s diet and feeding them high-quality food, it is also a good idea to look into supplementing their diet with nutrients that support their body and help it to develop properly.
All you need to do is find a range of good joint supplements, and incorporate these into your dog’s diet. Joint supplements are always beneficial—so not only will you be treating the knuckling, but you’ll also be supporting the entirety of their body and joints. This is a sure-fire way of increasing joint health for dogs and guarding against a variety of health problems.
Another treatment that you can implement for your large breed dog’s knuckling is wrapping. Wrapping consists of wrapping stretchy straps around the affected legs. This will help to support the leg and correct the knuckling.
Besides wraps, you can also pick up no-knuckling training socks that slip on and off and do the same thing. These socks and wraps are made out of material
Knuckling in Dogs Is Treatable with These Solutions
Knuckling in dogs is an alarming sight, especially if it is a young pup who should be at the peak of their health. Fortunately, knuckling in the early stages is 100% treatable.
If on the other hand, you have an older dog who is showing signs of knuckling, the best thing you can do is to keep them comfy, exercised, provide them with high-quality joint supplements, and of course give them a whole lot of love to help them improve their quality of life.
We hope you found this article helpful and we wish you and your big hound all the best. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact us.
If you have anything you want to share, be sure to leave a comment down below, and don’t forget to share this post on social media to raise awareness about knuckling in big dogs.