Lameness affecting distal limbs is commonly encountered in small animal practice and may be associated with soft tissue, bone or joint conditions. Clinical signs commonly seen with these problems include lameness, which may be more severe on hard or rough surfaces, and persistent licking of the affected limb. A systematic approach to the lame dog, starting with a detailed history and careful clinical examination, greatly improves the accuracy of diagnosis and permits specific treatment to be properly employed to optimise a patient's recovery. This article reviews the common orthopaedic conditions affecting the metacarpus, metatarsus and paw, and discusses some approaches to treatment.
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