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What is Metatarsal Hyperextension | Inverted Hind legs | Backwards Feet Puppy?
Congenital metatarsal hyperextension, backwards feet puppy, or an inverted hind legs puppy is caused by odd positioning in the uterus.
It’s most often seen in large litters, crowded in the uterus.
If the pup(s) get stuck in that position, the ligaments from the front are able to stretch.
Meanwhile, the ligaments in the hind legs tighten. After birth, the puppy’s leg(s) are flipped around backwards and held there by the tightened ligaments, like an over tightened screw that needs a little bit of help.
An Environmental Condition
This condition appears as an irreversible deformity in an otherwise perfectly healthy puppy, but I assure you, that is not the case.
Until recently, these puppies were thought to have been born with a severe birth defect and immediately euthanized to avoid a life of misery, never given a chance at life.
Of all the other articles I’ve read so far (not many available), once the puppy had reached adulthood, there was no evidence of any complication whatsoever.
Including breeding of the dogs affected, no reports of heredity.
Many have gone on to compete in conformation and win titles in AKC shows.
For inverted hind legs / metatarsal hyperextension, Doctors suggest a range of motion exercises a few times a day, gently extending and contracting the legs.
Move the legs and feet in the direction you wish for them to be positioned and massage them.
Other conditions may mimic these symptoms, so an X-ray early on to confirm inverted hind legs and rule out patella issues is recommended.
Make sure they have plenty of textures to walk on as this will help to build muscle in their whelping area.
I personally have experienced this anomaly once. It was my birthday 2021 and I was whelping for a friend. The affected puppy was from a massive litter of 9 French bulldog puppies!
He looked kind of funky with his backwards feet, I nicknamed him Happy Feet.
Our amazing vet – Dr. Kunze of Companion Animal Clinic of Gainesville sent us an article in an email. I got to reading and was confident I could fix him and that I DID.
Weeks 1-3: I didn’t notice much difference. Only looking through photos could I really see the tendons loosening up (I document EVERYTHING).
We did physical therapy during every feeding, gently stretching and moving the legs in the direction we wanted them to go.
When we started weaning, he seemed even more motivated.
It’s imperative to have bumps and things to climb on so they use the legs and build muscle.
It’s important in general to prevent flat chest syndrome and swimmers but even more important for something like this. If they’re not using the inverted legs, there’s a higher chance of flat chest and swimmers developing.
We like to use rolled up towels, blankets or acoustic egg panels under the blankets for added texture.
Week 4 he was walking and running around with a goofy gait but still able to get around just fine.
By week 8, the owner reported 100% normalcy.
I have seen updated photos of him and you would never know anything was ever out of place.
Don’t euthanize a pup with this problem, it’s an easy fix and you could miss out on an amazing family companion or champion quality dog for no reason!
Make sure to monitor progress and possibly check patellas and joints to confirm there are no other problems.
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