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Gait analysis

Gait analysis uses a variety of instruments to allows us a better understanding of the musculoskeletal system. We can measure the pressure and force of the dog using each limb (kinetics), and the angles at which the dog flexes and extends each joint (kinematics), including the neck, head and tail. This helps us identify subtle differences in good working joints from disabled or recovering joints. All joints should blend and work in harmony, however if one joint or movement is not attuned, it can become evident in the gait analysis.

Walking, trotting and pacing are all examples of symmetrical gait. The right hind- and the left foreleg move in unison, as do the left hind- and right foreleg. Movement is balanced throughout the body in dogs with normal locomotion.

In a standing dog, 60% of the weight is carried by the forelimbs and 40% by the hindlimbs. Travelling uphill transfers the weight to the hindlimbs and downhill to the forelimbs. For this reason gait is always analysed on a flat, level surface.

Kinetic analysis

Kinetics in gait analysis refers to the force of each limb during walk and trot, measured using a force plate built into a walkway. The force plate can measure the vertical and horizontal forces of each limb. This data is collected on a computer and can be transferred to a force, measured in newtons and a percentage of stance. This allows us to differentiate between each symmetrical limb. We can also use this to predict the usage and improvement of a limb following surgery.

Forceplate data showing the surface contact during the walk.


Abnormal gait would demonstrate a sharper peak vertical pressure and a shorter stride in respect to the symmetrical limb. Therefore less force.

Kinematic analysis

Kinematics in gait analysis is the study of the motion of the joints relative to one another during standing, walking and trotting. Rather like the motion capture techniques used in the film industry, each joint angle is measured using special reflective nodes placed at specific areas on each limb, and the head. These are captured using a high speed motion camera. The motion picture films can easily be analysed and we can obtain a good representation of flexion, extension and rotation of the joints in 2D.

Joint motion is measured in degrees, which can be charted and compared to the symmetrical limb. A dog with restricted motion would demonstrate a lesser degree range of movement in that joint.