Dog Anatomy and Common Joint Injuries Simplified

dog anatomy blog post balto usa

Dog anatomy is not too different from us humans. Let’s look into how to understand our pet’s joint-related injuries by comparing to joints we are familiar with – our own!

Understanding the canine anatomy in our every-day conversational language allows us to understand joint-related injuries a little more without having to have a background in veterinary medicine. By recognizing the similarities between their anatomical structures and our own, we can appreciate the intricacies of their movements – and also, how any injury may cause a lot of discomfort!

To begin, the front legs are considered the forelimbs. This includes the:

  • shoulders
  • elbows
  • wrists
  • toes

The top of a dog’s shoulder blade is referred to as the withers, this is the highest point of the back before it reaches the neck. Parallel to our shoulder joint, the canine shoulder serves as the anchor for the front leg movements allowing them to stretch and step. Below the shoulders you’ll find the elbows, which like our elbows, facilitate bending and extension movements. These movements allow them to walk and run, engaging in an active lifestyle. The wrist is typically referred to as the “carpus” and right beneath that is the “metacarpus”, which is the area between the wrist and the toes. Both the dog wrist and the dog toes provide stability, allowing them to support their weight, navigate uneven terrain, and jump!

The back legs are considered the hindlimbs. This includes the:

  • hips
  • knees
  • ankles
  • paw

The “pelvis” or hips serves as the foundation for the hind limbs. Like ours, it facilitates movement of the legs. The thigh bone, femur, is the longest bone on the dog’s body! It reaches from the hips to the knee. The “stifle joint” is equivalent to the human knee joint but is positioned higher up on the hind leg, allowing for flexing and extending of the leg. A CCL (cranial cruciate ligament), ACL in humans, is a very important ligament located inside of the stifle joint that prevents excessive forward movement of the tibia. When this is ruptured, it can lead to instability, pain, and lameness. The patella (kneecap) is a small bone which helps protect the knee joint and aids in the extension of the lower leg. Lastly, the dog’s ankle, is typically referred to as the “hock” or “tarsus”, and below that is the “metatarsus” which is the area between the ankle and the toes. Both the hock and the metatarsus provide stability and flexibility, allowing them to move in multiple directions, run, walk, and jump. The tarsal joint is crucial for a dog’s mobility and agility, as it absorbs shock and distributes forces during movement.

Bracing For Parts of the Body ~Simplified~ 

  • Neck
    • Balto Neck Eco E-Collar – not a brace, just helps prevents pets from reaching injuries or itchy hotspots
    • Balto Neck Brace – this IS a brace, supports the vertebrae and is intentionally made to be tough to move in

  • Front Legs
    • Balto Splint – for weak “wrists” in pets
    • Balto Bone – it’s in the name! for minor fractures of the front leg
    • Balto Joint – for wrist and elbow arthritis management

  • Back Legs
    • Balto Jump – for knee or patella injuries as well as arthritis
    • Balto Ligatek – for advanced or post-surgical knee injuries
    • Balto Hock – for ankle injuries as well as arthritis
    • Balto Flexor - for advanced or post-surgical ankle injuries
    • Balto Pull – for the toe-beans (paws), specifically used when the paw isn’t correctly being placed on the ground for EVERY steps they take.

  • Front Torso
  • For Weak Limbs & Walking
    • Balto Up – when the back legs aren’t mobile or are weaker
    • Balto Life – when the hips aren’t moving correctly (hip dysplasia) and need help with healthy hip movement
    • Balto Body Lift – when the dog’s whole body has weakness and they need support walking. Also great for pets diagnosed with IVDD.

Proper care, exercise and monitoring can help maintain the health and function of these vital bones and joints, ensuring your dog’s mobility and comfort throughout their life. If you have any concerns with the mobility of your pets, seek the attention of your veterinarian for medical advice.