You are here: Health > Growth Plates

Growth Plates

A typical bone is made up of a long shaft and two ends also known as epiphyses. In the foetus, the skeleton is made up of cartilage, which goes on to develop into bone as the puppy grows inside the womb. This process begins in the centre of the shaft, and then continues in the epiphyses. The long bones of the limbs i.e. the humerus and the femur undergo the most growth in the first few months of a puppies life. Therefore, at each end of a long bone, a growth plate forms. A growth plate is basically a cartilaginous gap in the bone where new layers of bone cells can slowly form and gradually lengthen the limb. When the puppy has finished growing, these growth plates will turn to bone themselves and are said to have 'closed.'  Growth plates are delicate in the first 6 months of any puppies life, but even more so in the Basset puppy. This is because the Basset is a large breed on short legs, and until the legs are strong, excessive pressure on these plates can cause damage. If an incident of high pressure such as a fall or excessive exercise occurs, the growth plate can be forced to close too soon, and therefore that particular bone can no longer grow at the correct rate. It is not until 9 months of age that all growth plates are completely closed, but most plates close at 7 months.

Growth plate problems can occur in all bones of the limbs but the most common problem occurs in the forelimb. The ulna and radius are the two bones which run side by side from the elbow to the carpus. If an injury to either of these bones occurs and growth stops, this forces the other bone to grow in a curve, causing the leg to eventually turn outwards or inwards, if left untreated.
Growth plate problems are detected by Veterinarians radiographically (using xrays) and there are various surgical options available if caught in time. However, speaking from experience, it is far better to prevent such a problem that to try to rectify it after its happened. The recovery period after orthopaedic surgery is long and not well tolerated by puppies, as strict cage rest is compulsory.

To prevent a growth plate injury you must 'Basset proof' your home and garden prior to his/her arrival. Basset puppies must not climb steps as this can cause injuries, and therefore a stair gate is an excellent way to prevent access to your stairs. It is important that Bassets get to play and have fun just like any other breed of puppy, but if playtime gets too hectic, it is recommended that you offer a calm environment and a comfortable bed for half an hour to act as a 'time-out.' Outdoor activities such as socialisation are vital to aid behavioural development, but ensure your puppy is not exercising on a lead for more than 10 minutes twice a day and take care if your puppy plays with other dogs. It is impossible to be constantly by your puppies side, but keeping a close eye on them certainly helps in trying to prevent any injuries.

Many thanks to Veterinairy Nurse Claire Tomkinson for writing this page.

A Photo of one of the Hounds

A Photo of one of the Hounds

A Photo of Jon with 3 of the Hounds

Latest Updates

Latest News

Featured Pages