The Dog’s Skeletal System And Its Components


Essentially the Dog’s skeletal system is made up of bones joined by ligaments, muscles and tendons.

Functions Of Dog’s Skeletal System

The function of the Dog’s skeletal system is to support and protect the body organs and, through the muscles which are connected to the bones by tendons, to make locomotion possible.

Dog’s Skeletal System | Major Bones In The Skeleton

Side View of Dog's Skeletal system | Vet Care
Side View of Dog’s Skeletal system | Vet Care
  • The long bones, eg the humerus, radius and ulna, the femur and the tibia, are most prone to fracture, particularly in road traffic accidents.
  • In adult animals the bones usually break into two or more separate parts. In young animals the bone may bend and split, causing the so-called ‘green-stick’ fracture.
  • The fore limb is not joined to the remainder of the skeleton, it is held in place simply by muscles there is no collar bone.

The Structure Of Long Bone

Dog's Skeletal system
The structure of a long bone ( External view)
  • Fractured bones can be repaired by placing a pin in the medullary cavity or by screwing a metal plate to the cortex where appropriate.

The Structure Of The Dog’s Vertebrae

Dog's Skeletal system
The Structure Of The Dog’s Vertebra | Vets Care

There is a total of 30 vertebrae plus a variable number in the tail:

  • 7 cervical vertebrae make up the neck
  • 13 thoracic vertebrae make up the spine over the chest and articulate with the ribs
  • 7 lumbar vertebrae and 3 sacral vertebrae form the lower back

The number of coccygeal vertebrae depends on the length of the tail.

Take Note:

  • The spinal cord lies within the vertebral canal and is thus protected by bone.
  • The vertebrae are separated by discs of Cartilage which give protection against trauma and allow the spine to be more flexible, The Centre of a disc may split out of place and press on the spinal cord, causing pain and paralysis.
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This can be a particular problem in long backed dogs such as Dachshunds.


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