What is Elbow Dysplasia?
Elbow dysplasia (ED) is an inherited disease and the most common cause of elbow pain and lameness in dogs. It is actually four different abnormalities that will lead to abnormal formation of the elbow, degeneration, and eventually arthritis.
1. UAP-ununited anconeal process
2. OCD- osteochondrosis dissecans
3. FMCP-fragmented medial coronoid process
4. elbow incongruity
One or more of the above may occur in one or both elbows.
How does my dog get Elbow Dysplasia?
ED is inherited and is especially prevalent in large breed dogs (see below).
How do I know if my dog has Elbow Dysplasia?
The signs and symptoms are usually seen in large or giant breed dogs between 4 and 10 months old. These signs include lameness, elbow pain, elbow joint swelling, and decreased range of motion of the joint. Your veterinarian will take some radiographs to identify one or more of the four above-mentioned abnormalities. In some instances, repeat radiographs may be needed 4 to 8 weeks later for confirmation. A high risk breed with elbow lameness and radiographic evidence of ED increases the likelihood that a pet has ED. Metaphorically, the condition is like having a pebble moving around inside your shoe (joint). The pebble is constantly rubbing against your foot leading to blisters and pain. Similarly in the elbow with bone chips and the joint.
What can I do about Elbow Dysplasia?
Once diagnosed, surgery to correct the abnormality(ies) is needed. The severity of any degenerative changes and the age of the pet will impact the long term prognosis of the surgery. Additionally, weight control is extremely beneficial to decrease the amount of weight tat is being carried by the elbows. Pain medications, ranging from NSAIDs to chondroprotective drugs, are used both before and after surgery to enhance comfort and decrease inflammation.
Is there anything I can do to prevent my dog from getting Elbow Dysplasia ?
Careful breed selection, meeting with breeders to identify lineages that have no history or ED, and understanding the risks factors, is all that can be done.
Are there certain breeds that get Elbow Dysplasia more often?
Labrador retrievers, Rottweilers, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Chow chows, Bearded collies, Newfoundlands.