Congenital Metatarsal Hyperextension

CMH is not genetic. I want to make that entirely clear here. CMH is caused by a puppy being in an awkward position in the uterine tube. Usually what you will see is one or more legs seems to be twisted or inverted.

At first glance this seems scary, deformed, broken. In fact I was worried that my Dam was throwing deformed puppies and immediately considered getting her spayed and taking her out of my breeding program. In the past veterinarians would often put these puppies down thinking they were deformed, in fact there are vets still to this day that recommend that, not knowing any better.

First thing first, don't panic. What has happened is that the leg was in a bad position and therefore caused one muscle to develop and grow a bit faster than the other. This causes the leg to “twist” and appear to be inverted. You can see in the picture above of my little girl Bobo, how her right rear foot is completely turned around.

No matter how we positioned her, it was twisted. These pictures were taken right after she was born.

The good news is this. All you need to do to fix it is to gently massage the muscles in the leg each day. I massaged her leg every time I took her morning and nightly weigh in. Be very gentle. Do NOT attempt to twist the leg around to the correct position. You could easily break one of their little bones by doing so. Just gently massage.

Another action that helped us and Bobo was to gently do range of motion exercises. Gently bend and straighten the leg. Be very careful. Only bend until you feel the slightest resistance, then straighten gently. Depending on the severity you may not be able to straighten the leg completely. That's ok, don't try to straighten it all the way then, just to the slightest resistance.

By doing these two exercises we had a dramatic change within the first week.

At this point we started trying something else as well. I would put her on my bed and watch her trying to crawl around. It was a bit difficult for her as her leg would slip out from under her and she ended up dragging it around a bit. So what we did was place a finger behind the leg that is affected so that she could push off with the bottom of the paw and gain strength in those muscles. This really seemed to help.

By the time she was 2 and a half weeks old, her leg was practically back to normal!

By the time she was 8 weeks old it was normal and you would never have known that she had ever had a problem! I am proud to say that she is successfully adopted out to my next door neighbor and has never had any problem with her leg.

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If anyone has any questions regarding this please feel free to ask me. Bobo was not the only one in that litter that had CMH, however hers was the most severe. Her brother, who was born next in line after her, had both rear legs twisted slightly inward. He also is a perfect little yorkie now and no problems. His legs were back to normal at approximately 3 weeks and by 8 weeks his little legs were perfect!


- written by Bobbi Bettger Hannah