Diagnosis of angular limb deformities is best made based upon history, clinical presentation and radiographs (X-rays). Radiographs of both front legs (even if only one is affected), from the shoulder joints all the way down to the toes and from several different views, are essential to enable the attending veterinarian to assess and fully understand the anatomical and physiological processes causing the particular dog’s limb abnormalities. Radiographs will show any bone deformities and closure of the growth plates. They are also important to rule in or out any fractures, ligament or tendon damage or retained cartilaginous cores, which can also cause lameness and limb deformities.
Most veterinarians will also recommend routine blood work, including a complete blood count and a serum biochemistry profile, together with a urinalysis, to assess the dog’s overall health. If the only problem is premature closure of a growth plate, the results of those tests should be completely normal.
Angular limb deformities can be diagnosed based on visible appearance. However, the real challenge is to determine and diagnose the underlying cause of the abnormality, so that appropriate treatment can begin.