What Is Elbow Dysplasia In Dogs, What Are The Symptoms?

Dog Health

One of the things you’ll notice as you watch your puppy grow is how fast he’s growing. Medium, large and giant breeds enter a period of rapid growth after almost five months of age. However, during this period, you may see a limp in one of your dog’s front legs. In dogs 4 to 8 months old, gait disturbance and abnormal gait may occur as a symptom of elbow dysplasia.

Elbow dysplasia is common, especially in medium and large breeds. Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, German Shepherd Dog, Bernese Mountain Dog, Rottweiler, Ternöv, Bassett Hound and English Springer Spaniel are the most common breeds with elbow dysplasia. Puppies belonging to fast growing breeds in the risk group need special nutrition and these puppies need to consume food specially prepared for large breed puppies. You can examine the types of food that will meet the needs of puppies by clicking here. Special formulas inhibit excessive growth to prevent skeletal disorders that cause hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia or other joint problems. Ensuring slow growth of medium and large breed puppies prevents the emergence of diseases such as elbow dysplasia by preventing excessive load on their joints during the growth process.

black dog sitting

What Is Elbow Dysplasia in Dogs?

Elbow dysplasia in dogs is the abnormal development of the elbow joint as a result of the rapid growth of large breed puppies. This includes bone growth, cartilage development and overloading the joints. Dog’s elbows are made up of three different bones called the radius, ulna, and humerus. If these three bones do not fit together correctly due to growth abnormalities, the distribution of body weight becomes unbalanced. This means that one joint is under more stress while the other is under less stress. As a result, it leads to joint pain, limping, and if left untreated, joint inflammation.

Joint dysplasia can occur in different ways. At the end of the ulna bone are two small bony prominences. This protrusion breaks due to the excessive load on the joint and separates from the rest of the bone. Osteochondritis of the medial humeral condyle in the elbow joint can also lead to elbow dysplasia. As puppies grow, cartilage tissue turns into bone. At the end of the bones that make up the elbow, one cartilage remains. When the bone does not develop, a thick cartilage tissue remains in the elbow. This causes osteochondritis.

The third and final cause of joint dysplasia is the unfused anconeal process. Growth plates are located at the ends of the bones, and when the dog reaches puberty, these plates close and join the pieces of bone. Articular dysplasia due to the unfused anconeal process occurs when the anconeal projection of the bone on the ulna is not fused with the rest of the ulna.

3 dogs sitting side by side

Symptoms of Elbow Dysplasia in Dogs

Symptoms of elbow dysplasia in dogs include limping, decreased range of motion of the problematic elbow, and even pain and discomfort when stretching the elbow. Dogs try to keep the elbow where they have elbow dysplasia away from their body. With daily walks, the limp gradually worsens and becomes visible. However, you may find that the dog has difficulty getting up for the first time after resting. As dysplasia progresses, it can cause fluid accumulation in the joint and swelling in the area.

The most common symptoms of dysplasia are that the elbows on the forelegs look outwards, the paws are turned inward, the joint looks cramped and does not move easily, the joint crackles when it is played, and the dog avoids moving.

x-rayed dog

How Is Elbow Dysplasia Diagnosed?

Early diagnosis of elbow dysplasia in dogs is extremely important. In this way, dysplasia can be treated before it causes osteoarthritis in the joint. In some cases, elbow dysplasia can be difficult to diagnose early because the dog rarely jerks or is lame. The presence of limp among the symptoms of dysplasia makes it easier to diagnose.

For the diagnosis of elbow dysplasia, an in-depth orthopedic examination is performed along with the physical examination. After X-raying the joint where the problem occurs, the veterinarian can determine the condition of the disease. In particular, open growth plates, conformational disorders, or bone fragments that cause discomfort can be easily detected by X-ray. If the diagnosis cannot be made by X-ray, advanced imaging methods such as ultrasound, MR or computed tomography can be used.

Rarely, further testing is required to make a definitive diagnosis. In these cases, a sample of fluid is taken from the joint and tested for inflammation or infection. Testing the fluid taken from the area provides detailed information about the dog’s condition.

dog checked by veterinarian

Treatment of Elbow Dysplasia in Dogs

Treatment of elbow dysplasia in dogs varies according to the condition of the condition. If dysplasia is mild, preventive health measures can be taken. However, in cases where the condition is more serious, surgery may be required. The most common surgical operation is arthroscopy. Flaps, cartilage fragments or bone fragments that cause discomfort are removed by entering the joint with a fiberoptic cable. Very rarely, open joint surgery is preferred over arthroscopy.

Symptoms of the disease can be controlled with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. In addition, glucosamine or chondroitin supplements, along with food supplements containing essential fatty acids, help lubricate the joint and reduce inflammation. Healthy exercises can act as rehabilitation in dogs diagnosed with elbow dysplasia. In particular, swimming not only removes the weight on the joint, but also helps to move and operate the joint painlessly.

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