Rickets in dogs is a rare condition that mostly affects young pups. It is not a congenital or hereditary condition. Rickets in dogs stems from a deficiency in specific vitamins and minerals.
Puppies and young dogs that are developing are more vulnerable to developing rickets. Older dogs are less likely to get affected by rickets. Yet, the condition is imminent in an older dog that stops to feed on the right nutrients for a healthy skeletal structure.
What is the cause of rickets in dogs?
It is quite rare for any dog to develop rickets. For any dog to develop rickets, its body will register low levels of;
- Vitamin D
Phosphorus and Calcium are two essential minerals that help in vitamin D absorption. When the two minerals are deficient, then a dog will have problems absorbing vitamin D into their bone matrix.
Vet doctors have established that rickets in dogs is caused by;
- Nutrition deficiency
- Hereditary receptor mutation
Nutrition-deficient rickets is the most common of the two. It only affects dogs that are extremely deficient in vitamin D, Calcium, and Phosphorus. Nutrition-deficient rickets can affect any dog at any stage in life.
In older dogs, rickets morphs into a condition called osteoporosis
Vitamin D resistant rickets or VDRR is hereditary. It is characterized by the mutation of the vitamin D receptor. When this happens, a dog is unable to absorb vitamin D in the body. Vitamin D resistant rickets only affects young dogs.
Which dog breeds are vulnerable to rickets?
Any dog regardless of breed can develop rickets when young or old. There is a common belief that most cases of canine rickets result from puppy mills. There may be some level of truth to this as most dogs in puppy mills feed on a poor diet.
Note that rickets in dogs can be confused by another condition called Luxated Patella. It is a condition where a dog’s knee dislocates causing the fore and hind limbs to curve inwards. Miniature breeds like the Dachshund are prone to Luxated Patella. This is because their body weight exerts a lot of pressure on their tiny limbs causing them to curve inwards.
Symptoms of rickets in dogs
The first sign of rickets is when the forelimbs curve outwards. Other symptoms that develop later include;
- A stiffer gait
- Limping due to joint pain
- Swelling in the metaphyses
- Bone fractures
- Difficulty in standing up
Rickets in dogs becomes a permanent condition if the symptoms are not diagnosed and treated early.
Diagnosing rickets disease in dogs
A physical examination of the dog helps distinguish rickets from other musculoskeletal diseases in dogs. A blood biochemical analysis evaluates vitamin and mineral levels in the dog’s body. Thirdly, a born biopsy confirms low calcium levels in the dog’s bone matrix, which is the onset of rickets.
Treating rickets in dogs
Rickets in dogs treatment aims to address the vitamins and minerals deficient in a sick dog. A nutrition vet will suggest an alteration of the dog’s diet to address the problem of missing vitamins and minerals. The new diet plan aims at;
- Increasing calcium levels in the bone
- Activating vitamin D absorption into the bloodstream
- Ensuring balanced calcium to phosphorus ratio to prevent hypertrophic osteodystrophy
- Triggering calcium absorption by maintaining a calcitriol and vitamin D balance
The Calcium-Phosphorus ratio
An optimal balance between calcium and phosphorus is necessary for treating rickets in dogs. Vitamin D balance is necessary as well as it regulates the amounts of calcium and phosphorus in the bones and blood. Read our comprehensive guide on vitamin D deficiency in dogs.
So what is the correct calcium-phosphorus-vitamin D ratio?
It can be hard to balance these three nutrients in your dog’s food, especially if you are not a dietician. Fortunately, most quality dog foods have these nutrients balanced out for you. But if your dog’s current dog food brand is not meeting its nutritional needs, consider switching to a healthier brand. Your vet can help you narrow down the best brands on the market.
We recommend starting your dogs on a raw homemade diet right from when they are puppies. Raw dog food is unprocessed and has all its nutrients intact. Consult your vet first before switching your dog to a homemade raw diet. A nutrition vet will help in listing foods rich in vitamin D, Calcium, and phosphorus.
Rich sources of vitamin D for your dog include;
Dog-friendly foods rich in Calcium include;
- Meaty bones
- Eggshells (great for puppies)
- Dark leafy greens
- Milk (avoid if a dog is lactose intolerant)
- Plain Greek yogurt
Foods rich in phosphorus for dogs include;
- Turkey neck (ground for puppies)
- Beef bone meal
- Chicken (legs, thigh, and breast)
- Pumpkin and pumpkin seeds
- Organ meats (kidneys, intestines, heart)
Dog supplement for a homemade diet with vitamin D, Calcium, and Phosphorus
We always recommend getting your dog pet supplements to make up for missing nutrients in their food. Pet supplements are designed by qualified pet nutritionists who balance all the necessary nutrients to ensure your dog is healthy.
And if you are looking for a suitable pet supplement to start your dog on, we gladly suggest getting our Bullyade pet supplement.
Bullyade dog supplement contains vitamin D, Calcium, and phosphorus in the recommended ratio. A daily dosage of Bullyade in your dog’s food or drinking water ensures that his muscles and bones remain healthy.
Bullyade supplement for rickets in dogs treatment is ideal for;
- Newborn puppies to aid in their growth and development
- Dogs recovering from sickness and are struggling to absorb nutrients from food
- Dogs that are dehydrated and want to replenish lost electrolytes
- Dogs that are fighting parvovirus
- Dogs recovering from Coccidia
- Dogs suffering from chronic diarrhea
Bullyade is an all-under-one-roof supplement with all the necessary vitamins and minerals to balance your dog’s diet. What’s more, Bullyade comes in a chicken and beef flavor that is great for enticing your dog to hydrate more.