Rickets, also known an Osteomalacia, is a disease of the bones that affects young, rapidly growing dogs. It is mainly caused by dietary deficiency of Vitamin D, Calcium, or Phosphorus. Some diets may cause an abnormal Calcium / Phosphorus ratio. Therefore, this nutritional imbalance can lead to a condition known as Nutritional Hyperparathyroidism. Another consideration is improper functioning of the parathyroid glands, located in the neck, which regulate the Calcium and Phosphorus balance in a dog’s body. If not functioning properly the parathyroid glands can increase the extraction of minerals from bones (and, in turn, enhance excretion) thus making them susceptible the disease.
Although it is not a life-threatening disease in dogs, it causes bones to become weak, brittle and susceptible to fracture, if ignored.
- Bowing or bending of legs, especially the forelimbs
- Stiff gait
- Reluctance to move or lameness seen due to pain
- Difficulty rising followinglong periods of rest
- Stunted growth
- Pain on palpation of affected limbs
- In chronic cases, fractures are noticed
Diagnosis and Treatment:
If you observe any kind of bone tilting, posture abnormality or difficulty in walking then you should consult with your family vet for further investigation. He will perform x-rays and serum chemistry profiles (alkaline phosphatase, vitamin D, calcium and phosphorous) to see alterations in bone and blood, respectively. Decreased calcium levels are seen in later stages.
To cure rickets, a correct diet plan will be formulated by your vet concentrating on calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D. If homemade diets are deficient in these, either vitamin / mineral supplements, or commercial feed will be prescribed to make up for the deficiency. Kindly follow the instructions provided by your vet.
Aside from diet, exposure to sunlight will increase production of vitamin D in the body, so be sure to exercise your dog outside the house regularly.
- Growing pups should be fed balanced diets; take advicefrom a vet rather than experimenting with different dog feeds.
- Take your pup out to playduring daylight hours.
- If your female dog is pregnant, follow your vet’sdiet recommendations so that young pups born are healthy and not prone to developing
Healthy pets happy parents!!
Dr. Prachi Kshatriya