One of the more common orthopedic conditions experienced by dogs, especially big dogs, is canine elbow dysplasia. This condition affects the forelegs, causing lameness and pain. If you notice that your pup is struggling to walk even moderate distances, or is showing signs of pain when using its forelegs, it’s a good idea to take them to the vet and have them looked at to determine if they have canine elbow dysplasia.
What is it?
Canine elbow dysplasia (ED) actually refers to several conditions that are collectively known as medial compartment disease and ununited anconeal process (UAP). These eventually lead to arthritis, and they include fragmented coronoid process (FCP), osteochondrosis (OCD), joint incongruity, and cartilage anomaly.
Canine elbow dysplasia is the term used to describe an elbow that has been damaged through cartilage loss, medial compartment disease, or an ununited anconeal process. The issue is thought to be genetic to some degree, with multiple factors ultimately contributing to its onset.
How Do I Know if My Dog Has it?
A dog with lameness in its foreleg could have canine elbow dysplasia, especially if the lameness is perpetual and does not seem to improve even after significant rest. If both forelegs are affected, it might be difficult to spot. The best thing to do is to watch your dog’s gait closely to ensure that they are not struggling to walk or exercise. This condition also causes significant pain, so any pain symptoms should be taken seriously and may warrant a trip to your primary veterinarian for further analysis.
Symptoms are often apparent early on in the dog’s life. According to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS), puppies will often start showing symptoms around 5 months of age. However, they note that some dogs are not diagnosed until they are 4-6 years old.
Canine elbow dysplasia most commonly affects large and giant breed dogs. According to the ACVS, German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers are predisposed to both UAP and medial compartment disease. They also note that Bernese Mountain Dogs are more likely to develop UAP, while Labrador Retrievers are more likely to develop medial compartment disease. All large and giant breed dogs should be monitored carefully for signs of the issue.
How is it Treated?
For the majority of cases, arthroscopic surgery is the recommended treatment. Medical treatment is typically suggested in cases that are either very mild or so severe that surgery is not likely to relieve the problem.
The specific surgery will vary depending on the severity of the dog’s condition and the root cause of the elbow dysplasia. Your primary veterinarian and board-certified veterinary surgeon will be able to make a plan of action once they have completed the necessary diagnostic tests.
What are the Aftercare Procedures?
Aftercare varies significantly depending on the surgery performed and the severity of your pup’s condition. According to the ACVS, your dog will likely be confined to limited activity for at least 2-6 weeks, but it could be longer. The ACVS also states that, on average, 85% of cases treated through surgery see some level of improvement—even more severe cases.
Trust Maryland Veterinary Surgical Services With Your Companion’s Health
Your companion’s health is important, and the team at MVSS is ready to provide the best care possible for your furry family. We are dedicated to combining comprehensive exams and assessments with informative and honest discussions of your companion’s care. Once we have worked with you to decide on the best course of action for your dog, our professionals will use their surgical expertise to work towards the goal of giving your companion an active and pain-free life. We are proud to serve loyal companions in Catonsville and Baltimore. To learn more about our services, give us a call at 410-788-4088 or visit us online. For more information and tips for pet health, follow us on Facebook and Pinterest.