Understanding Elbow Dysplasia in Dogs?

Understanding Elbow Dysplasia in Dogs?

The addition of a furry member into the family brings great joy. However, along with joy, it brings in a lot of responsibilities too. If you have recently adopted a pup or as a pet parent you will know that looking after a pet is similar to looking after a baby. Feeding them on time, training them, and taking care of their nutritional or dietary needs is imperative. They need to be under supervision at all times. We need to take extra care of them while they are in their development stage. If failed to look into the nutritional or dietary needs during the development stage, it might cause your furry one to suffer from severe conditions.

One such condition that many growing dogs are at a risk of is ‘Elbow Dysplasia’. Big or medium-sized breeds such as Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, German Shepherd Dog, Bernese Mountain Dog, Rottweiler, Newfoundland, Bassett Hound, and English Springer Spaniel are vulnerable to this condition.

Let’s dig deep into what elbow dysplasia is –

As per the Merck Veterinary Manual description, elbow dysplasia is an abnormal development of elbow bones. The condition involves abnormal bone growth, cartilage development, or joint stresses. Large canines are at a higher risk of suffering from this condition during their development stage.

According to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, a canine’s elbow joint is made up of these three bones i.e. the radius, ulna, and humerus. During the development stage, these bones need to grow and fit together perfectly. Sometimes, due to growth abnormality, these bones do not fit properly. This leads to uneven weight distribution near the joint areas, which then causes pain, lameness, and the development of arthritis.

Elbow dysplasia is developed due to three abnormal conditions –

  • Pathology involving the medial coronoid of the ulna (FCP) – In this condition, one of the two small bone protrusions at the end of the ulna cracks. It then separates from the rest of the bone.
  • Osteochondritis of the medial humeral condyle in the elbow joint (OCD). In this condition, the cartilage (the bone connecting tissue) turns into a bone. So, there is one cartilage on the other side of the bone that forms the joint.
  • Ununited anconeal process (UAP). In this condition, growth plates are seen between the anconeal process and the rest of the ulna. The anconeal process is a projection of bone on the ulna.

Diagnosis of this condition –

The Orthopaedic Foundation of Animals (OFA) says that a clinical sign of elbow dysplasia mainly includes lameness and the other symptoms can be subtle for a longer period of time making it difficult to diagnose. In the early stage of this condition canines usually show a sign of slight or intermittent lameness.

Here are some of the other signs and symptoms of elbow dysplasia in dogs. If you notice these signs or symptoms, you must visit your veterinarian at the earliest.

  • Limping occasionally. Especially after exercise or while standing up.
  • Stiff elbow joints
  • Unable to move freely
  • Cracking sound of the elbows when the joints move
  • If he or she is hesitant to go for walks or exercise
  • Front legs rotating inwards with their elbows rotating outwards

Treatment options for elbow dysplasia are limited to changes in their lifestyle and surgery. The treatment option is decided based on the severity of this condition. Your veterinarian may opt for surgery only if this condition is severe and cannot be treated by other means. However, if the condition is not severe, your veterinarian may recommend a non-surgical approach. Your veterinarian might suggest the following methods.

  • Reduce weight to take the stress off their joints
  • Physical therapy
  • Start supplements for the joints
  • Restrictions on exercise
  • Prescribe anti-inflammatory medicines and joint fluid modifiers

How can you protect your canine from elbow dysplasia?

To protect your furry baby from such conditions, you must ask your vet for assistance. Your vet can prescribe a few joint supplements appropriate for your pup. Your vet might also suggest a few exercises that would promote the proper development of their bones while keeping their weight in check.