Carpal Laxity

Many times Shar-Pei puppies present with a “bowing outward” in the carpus or wrist joint of the front leg or both legs. Usually these pups are in the 6-10 week old range. This usually occurs in rapidly growing, heavy pups and is due to weakness of the ligaments in this area caused by excess weight occurring before adequate bone development. Many of these dogs are on higher protein puppy diets as well as additional vitamin and mineral supplements. Treatment involves:

  1. A visit to your veterinarian to rule out other problems affecting the carpii (wrists).
  2. Switching diets to adult maintenance food or puppy diets for large breed puppies. The goal here is to slow down the growth rate shooting for 2-3 pounds a week. I usually feed 1 cup of dry food per 6 pounds of body weight per day up to a maximum of 4-6 cups per day.
  3. Stop all vitamin-mineral supplements.
  4. House and exercise the pups on surfaces with good footing. Try to avoid flooring consisting of tile, finished concrete, hardwood, linoleum, etc. Carpeting, grass, rubber matting, etc. all provide good traction for strengthening the legs.
  5. Rarely, soft wraps on the wrists are used initially to provide additional support while the above changes are being implemented. Ace™ bandages with or without PVC splints are useful and can be changed and washed as needed.

Usually the front legs will straighten up in 7-14 days. Pups that don’t respond or in older pups X-rays should be taken to further evaluate for orthopedic problems such as premature closure of growth plates, bone cysts, and other problems


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