Objective—To evaluate the load redistribution mechanisms in walking and trotting dogs with induced forelimb lameness.
Animals—7 healthy adult Beagles.
Procedures—Dogs walked and trotted on an instrumented treadmill to determine control values for peak and mean vertical force as well as verticle impulse for all 4 limbs. A small sphere was attached to the ventral pad of the right forelimb paw to induce a reversible lameness, and recordings were repeated for both gaits. Additionally, footfall patterns were assessed to test for changes in temporal gait variables.
Results—During walking and trotting, peak and mean vertical force as well as vertical impulse were decreased in the ipsilateral forelimb, increased in the contralateral hind limb, and remained unchanged in the ipsilateral hind limb after lameness was induced. All 3 variables were increased in the contralateral forelimb during trotting, whereas only mean vertical force and vertical impulse were increased during walking. Stance phase duration increased in the contralateral forelimb and hind limb during walking but not during trotting.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Analysis of the results suggested that compensatory load redistribution mechanisms in dogs depend on the gait. All 4 limbs should be evaluated in basic research and clinical studies to determine the effects of lameness on the entire body. Further studies are necessary to elucidate specific mechanisms for unloading of the affected limb and to determine the long-term effects of load changes in animals with chronic lameness.