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My Puppy has Signs of Paw Knuckling and Curling. What Should I Do?

My Puppy has Signs of Paw Knuckling and Curling. What Should I Do?

You might have noticed your puppy showing signs of one or both front paws knuckling or curling over. 

Puppies can develop knuckling in their front legs, where their paw pads don't fully touch the floor or their paws curl or their legs bend. Puppies can knuckle in their front legs or their back legs but this page will discuss front paw knuckling.


Early Signs and Symptoms of Puppy Knuckling

Your puppy's legs might weave or be unsteady when they walk. This is usually because their paw pad is not flat on the floor. Look out for this symptom and feel free to send us a video if you would like us to double-check for you.

The first step is to get your vet to confirm the knuckling diagnosis.

It is strongly suggested you read further into paw knuckling in case your puppy continues to show signs into adulthood. Read about paw knuckling here.

What age do puppies knuckle?

The condition usually presents itself between the ages of 6 to 16 weeks.

What breeds get puppies knuckling?

All breeds can get knuckling in the puppy stage, but it is most often seen on the large breeds, potentially linked to fast growing puppies.

What causes knuckling in puppies?

While the cause of knuckling is not known, it may be related to:

  • Sore or Injured Paws
  • Intervertebral Disc Disease
  • Weakness between the flexor and extensor muscle groups
  • Improper exercise
  • Poor footing (slippery surfaces)
  • Inappropriate nutrition
  • Genetics
  • Poor muscle tone
  • Carpal Flexural Deformity
  • Unbalanced growth
  • Muscles, tendons, or ligaments can't support the puppy's weight

Treatment for Puppy Paw Knuckling

Some puppies will grow out of knuckling, some will need supportive care and some will have it their whole lives. Puppy knuckling treatment can take a few different options.

  1. Cage Rest with a very soft bed
  2. Laser Therapy
  3. Avoiding putting your puppy on slippery surfaces such as floorboards (stay on surfaces such as grass, rubber mats and carpet)
  4. Physiotherapy or hydrotherapy
  5. Keep your puppy warm (cold weather can worsen the condition)
  6. Possible surgery
  7. Boots - look for boots made of rubber so that they protect the paw skin but also don't break easily. You will need to buy larger sizes as the puppy grows up. Find knuckling boots here
  8. Wrist wrap - think about a wrist support to give your puppy extra strength in the carpal and wrist area. Find carpal support here
  9. As puppies are young and not strong yet, look at products that are light in weight

Product options are:

Managed correctly, your puppy will walk normally with the help of an aid, boot or brace. 

Previous article Reasons Your Dog May Lose Hind Leg Mobility

Read more about Paw Knuckling - Causes, Prevention and How to Help at Home

Read here

Mr Finlay, the Rough Collie dog, Paw Knuckles due to Spondylosis

Read here

Best Dog Knuckling Boots & Braces

Knuckling aids here
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