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Dr. Bruce
Dr. Bruce, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 20144
Experience:  Small animal veterinarian with 15 years experience
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My westie has recently developed a lameness in her right front

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My westie has recently developed a lameness in her right front leg. This has occurred before but stopped as rapidly as it started, this was about a year ago. She limps after getting up from laying down for a long period of time. My vet does not think it is arthritis as she is only six years old. We went to the vet today with my cat and mentioned her limp, and he said it could be because her knee cap is not sitting correctly between the grooves, and if we can wiggle it then it is a 'mechanical' problem. However, he hasn't seen her and I'm worried he meant her back leg, because isn't the hock the knee joint? If there is a knee joint on the front leg, could you please tell me where it is located and also what you think the cause of her lameness could possible be? She doesn't limp all the time after getting up, but she does do it frequently. It's almost like she has a dead leg. What do you think it could be? The vet hasn't actually seen her, we just described what she has been doing. The cat was at the vet for a stress related problem.
Thank you,
Welcome. I'm Dr. Bruce and I've been a small animal veterinarian for over 13 years. Thank you for your question. I'm sorry to hear about this persistent lameness with your Westie. You are correct in that they were thinking of the back leg when they mentioned the knee cap not sitting correctly in the groove. This is called a luxating patella and it is in a rear leg. There are no knee joints in the front leg. There was some confusion here. As far as this lameness, it could be arthritis. Arthritis isn't something that only happens in older patients. There are many young dogs out there that have arthritis in their joints due to irregular wear of the joint. Age doesn't rule it out. What would be a good course of action to pursue here is to have your vet evaluate her and to see if they can isolate any areas of pain or swelling with that leg. Depending on what is found there, they may want to take an x-ray to see what that shows. Could this be something infectious like Lyme disease? That is something that does happen here in the US and I'm not sure of the frequency there. Could it be due to some immune mediated joint inflammation? That is possible too. More than likely a good option to try here is a course of oral non steroidal pain medications like Metacam to see how that helps her out. She may also benefit from glucosamine supplementation. Here is a great link on the medications for arthritis.
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