Kinematic analysis of the pelvic limbs of healthy dogs during stair and decline slope walking



Objectives: To evaluate range of motion (ROM) of the pelvic limb in healthy dogs descending stairs compared with decline slope walking.

Methods: Reflective spheres were placed on the skin over the joints of the right pelvic limb of seven adult, hound-type dogs with no clinical signs of orthopaedic or neurologic disease. Five trials of stair and ramp descent of each dog were recorded using four 60 Hz digital infrared cameras. Two-dimensional kinematic data were collected as dogs walked down stairs and on a continuous decline of equivalent slope. Maximum and minimum joint angles and ROM were calculated for the coxofemoral, femorotibial and tibiotarsal joints.

Results: Stair descent resulted in significantly greater femorotibial flexion and tibiotarsal flexion and extension compared with continuous slope descent. Significantly greater ROM was achieved in the coxofemoral, femorotibial and tibiotarsal joints during stair descent.

Clinical Significance: Compared with a continuous slope, stair descent achieves greater ROM in the pelvic limbs of dogs. Stair descent may be a useful therapeutic exercise to improve ROM in dogs with musculoskeletal disease of the pelvic limb, and ramp descent may be easier for dogs with limited motion of pelvic limb joints.