​What Causes Carpal Hyperextension in Dogs?

Caused by severe damage to the ligaments supporting the wrist of the forelimb, carpal hyperextension causes dogs to stand flat-footed with their wrist or carpus on the ground. Although carpal hyperextension can affect dogs of all ages and breeds, the condition is more common in large, active breeds. Read on for more details about this...

Causes of Carpal Hyperextension

Most commonly, carpal hyperextension occurs as the result of a single traumatic injury that ruptures the palmer ligaments in the front foot. However, dogs may also develop carpal hyperextension from repeated injury caused by jumping from an elevated surface. This makes agility and performance dogs especially prone to this condition. Although less common, carpal hyperextension may also develop in dogs with immune-mediated joint disease or degenerative conditions of the ligaments.

Symptoms of Carpal Hyperextension

Refusing to bear weight on the affected limb is one of the first symptoms of carpal hyperextension in dogs. Depending on the extent of injury, those affected may experience swelling around the joint and vocalize or cry out in pain. After a week or so, the dog will typically begin using the affected limb again, but will stand with a flat-footed stance. This looks similar to how a rabbit sits on its hind feet.

Diagnosing Carpal Hyperextension in Dogs

A veterinarian can typically diagnose carpal hyperextension after taking a thorough history and performing a physical exam. During an exam, the veterinarian will check for instability and may attempt to manipulate the carpus into a greater extension than normal. Although not always necessary, the veterinarian may also order x-rays to identify the exact location of the instability.

Treatment of Carpal Hyperextension in Dogs

Treatment of carpal hyperextension depends on the cause and extent of injury. Sometimes, dogs require surgery to fuse the carpal joints together. In many cases, tendon stitching and temporary immobilization of the hock provides positive results. It’s important to note that full recovery following surgery depends on both medical management and proper support of the joint.

Canine support products like DogLeggsTM Carpal Support provide optimal support of the joint following treatment. If necessary, adding optional stabilization straps increases the level of support.

Preventing Carpal Hyperextension

Although not always possible, the best way to prevent carpal hyperextension is to prevent dogs from jumping from high surfaces. Concerned pet parents should consider using mobile steps that encourage dogs to walk, rather than jump, into vehicles and onto furniture. Extra weight puts pressure on the joints, increasing the chance of injury. Proper conditioning and weight management is crucial for agility and performance dogs.

Some dogs are simply more prone to this condition than others. DogLeggsTM Carpal Support can help protect and support the joint during physical exercise.

Carpal hyperextension can cause significant pain and discomfort. It’s important that dogs are seen by a qualified veterinarian at the first sign of a potential problem. This can help identify the cause as well as any underlying issues such as osteoarthritis or other degenerative diseases requiring additional treatment.

With proper treatment, the prognosis is good for dogs with carpal hyperextension. However, it’s important to maintain adequate support of the joint during and after treatment using a quality carpal support like those offered by DogLeggsTMPlease contact us for more information about our products.