What is Hock Instability in Dogs and Cats?

boxer dog leg in hock brace for hock injuries in mountains

What is Hock Instability in Dogs and Cats?

What is the Hock?

Similar to ankles in humans, the hock joint connects the tibia and fibula to the talus and calcaneus bones. The hock joint includes four ligaments located on the medial and lateral aspects of the joint that hold the hock together. The Achilles tendon is used to extend the hock joint and connects to the “heel” of a dog or cat to pull the foot up. This allows the pet to stand on its phalanges (or toes). The hock joint creates that acute angle that can be located on the back of your dog or cat’s hind leg.

What Is Hock Instability?

Due to the high impact of this joint, hock instability is common and can be debilitating to your dog or cat. Hock instability most commonly occurs for the following reasons:

  • Sprained Hock/Strained Hock Muscle (minor injuries)
  • Hock Dislocation
  • Hock Ligament Injury
  • Achilles Tendon Injury
  • Bone Fractures
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD)

Some common signs that might occur and indicate that your dog has hock instability include:

  • Inflammation
  • Muscle Atrophy
  • Lameness
  • Unusual Shifting (of the joint)
  • Non-Weight Bearing

How Can Hock Instability Be Treated?

Most of the time, hock instability can be treated using a bracing device. The Balto Hock – Hock Brace is designed for injuries or diseases that affect the tarsus (hock) and/or Achilles tendon. The brace itself (and the aluminum splints) are shaped like the tarsus giving maximum stability throughout the joint. The brace can also be used pre- and post-operatively for more serious injuries when surgery is needed. The aluminum splints may be removed, and the brace can act solely as a compression brace. Compression is valuable for increasing blood flow which helps reduce stiffness, relax the muscles, and diminish pain.