What is Knuckling in Dogs and Cats?

How Can I Support My Dog’s Proprioceptive Deficiency?

“Knuckling” is a term used for pets that walk on the top of their paw instead of the pads of their paw. It is usually caused by a proprioceptive deficit or decreased proprioception. A proprioceptive deficit occurs when there is a reduction in the sense that tells different parts of your pet’s body (such as a limb) where it is in space. Therefore, your pet is unable to sense the position of their limb on the ground. This causes the pet to knuckle (dorsiflexion) or stand on the back of its paw. Continuous knuckling can cause the pet’s flexor tendons to shorten and prevent the correct application of weight on the limb.

What Causes a Proprioceptive Deficit in Dogs and Cats?

A proprioceptive can occur for several reasons and can be from an acute injury or a chronic condition. Some of these reasons might include:

  • Acute Injury
  • Pinched Nerves/Inflammation
  • Neurological Conditions
    • Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD)
    • Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)
    • Wobbler Syndrome

How Can I Support My Dog or Cat’s Proprioceptive Deficit?

Balto USA bracing devices can help assist your pet with a proprioceptive deficit. The Balto Pull – Brace for Hyperflexion Phalanges was designed to help support proprioceptive deficits by not allowing the paw to “knuckle”. The knot at the top of the brace can be untied so that the elastic strap can be adjusted to increase or decrease the tension provided. The Balto Splint – Carpal Tarsal Laxity Splint is another option for proprioceptive deficits for front or rear paws. This brace includes a slightly moldable, aluminum splint that wraps underneath the paw to help support the joint from knuckling.