Great Dane Bone issues

Knuckling and Hod

What is “Knuckling”?

You might have heard of a disease or issue called “Knuckling”, which scientifically is known as carpal laxity syndrome, carpal hyperextension or carpal hyperflexion.

You will first notice this issue arise in the growth plates of your animals front limbs, where you imagine their wrists to be. 

The issue begins when their front limbs (weight-bearing) cannot handle the weight of their body and begins to crumble under the pressure. 

This Great Dane puppy has severe knuckling. 

This puts immense amount of pressure on the muscles, bones, and joints of these limbs. In beginning stages you might see bowing of these limbs, and if not treated, the bones will begin to actually grow in a bent form.  

What Causes Knuckling? 

Although the root cause of knuckling remains unknown to vets, there are several suspected causes.  If you begin to notice slight changes in your Dane puppies limbs, please begin by identifying why your puppy has begun these issues from the following list.

Knuckling over CAN be caused by the following things:

1) You are feeding your puppy a combination diet of two or more different types of kibble at the same time.

2. You have changed your puppies kibble more than 3-4 times within the first fragile few months of its life.

3. You are adding unnecessary vitamins and minerals into your Dane’s diet.

4. You are feeding your puppy too much food.

5. You are not feeding your puppy the right amount of calcium/phosphorus.

6. You have an unbalanced raw diet.

7. You are feeding a balanced diet, in forms that are not bioavailable to your puppy (powdered or pill supplements vs. liquid).

8.  Your puppy had a vaccine reaction which began this issue. 

Improper Flooring 

Great Dane puppies are growing- and they are growing fast. Improper flooring can be a contributing factor to disfunctional bone growth such as knuckling.  Puppies need to have ample opportunities to have natural exercise on many different textures of floors, NONE of which include slippery floor such as hard-wood. 

Rubber- you can purchase rubber flooring to cover your hardwood for the crucial growing stages of a Dane puppy. 

Rugs- rugs should cover all tile or hardwood to prevent slips and falls that could turn into something of a worst case scenario. 

Grass- keep your puppy playing on grass rather than cement as often as possible.  Natural play is fine, but do not promote long hikes or excessive exercise. 

Stair Treads- steps can be a very dangerous feature of your home for your Great Dane puppy.  Consider applying No Slip treads to your hardwood or tile stairs. 

Bath-tub no slip- Ensure your dog’s joints are not being injured during bath time by applying a no slip feature to your bath tub.

Puppy Shoes/Booties- If you are unable to allow your puppy soft and varied surfaces (no slip) consider puppy booties to prevent falls. 

Identify The Issue

You first need to identify which of the above problems is the root cause of your Dane’s knuckling.  Once identified, there are time sensitive steps you will need to begin taking with your puppy.

Identify The Severity

Depending on how old your puppy is upon diagnosis, you might have a less severe to more severe case of knuckling.  No matter what the severity is, you need to take immediate action in order to prevent further damages (damages that could be permanent).  Lets take a look at the stages of knuckling and identify which stage your puppy might be in. 

Beginning Phase of Knuckling

In the beginning phase of knuckling you could notice a few different things. First off, you might notice your puppies feet seem either: way too flat or appear like they are standing on their tippy toes. ANY CHANGES in your puppies feet (especially front limbs) SHOULD NOT BE IGNORED.  As a Great Dane puppy owner, I recommend taking photos weekly or 2x weekly of your puppies feet so that you can notice any changes.  In the beginning phases, it could be easy to overlook.  Slight changes must be taken into consideration.


Intermediate Phase of Knuckling

In the intermediate phase of knuckling you will begin to notice more severe views of your puppy “standing on its toes”. Your puppy will appear to be in pain and could possibly struggle to walk. You will want to take your puppies temperature and monitor for fever.  Any fever above 103 should be taken seriously and consult your vet.  When you notice that your puppy is in this intermediate phase of knuckling you will need immediate action and your puppy could recover within ~2 months with proper nutrition, diet, and actions.

Advanced Phase of Knuckling

Your puppys limbs are beginning to deform, and if action is not taken immediately there could and will be permanent damage to the growth plates in your puppies forelimbs. 

Severe Knuckling

In the severe stages of knuckling, your dane will exhibit lethargy, fever, lack of appetite, and inability to move on its own (or a combination of these items).  Your dane will need its limbs to be splinted professionally and you must change your entire pathway with diet and nutrition to correct limbs.  

If your Dane puppy is knuckling, please read the following post about the action steps you need to take to resolve this issue. 

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