Identifying Elbow Dysplasia in Dogs

Elbow dysplasia is an often-times painful degenerative condition that affects various popular breeds of large dogs such as Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, and Great Danes.

What Elbow Dysplasia Is

This condition is brought on by small incongruities that form in a puppy's elbow joint as a result of a number of possible growth abnormalities that could adversely affect the proper development of the elbow. All of these diagnoses are genetic and will manifest themselves in the early stages of a dog's growth, usually as early as six months.

In nearly every instance, the condition occurs when a piece of bone or cartilage breaks, interfering with the proper joint construction of the dog's elbow causing great discomfort and joint instability in the animal. Because this condition is a genetic one, veterinarians are still unsure of the causes, but fortunately, there are a number of prescribed treatments available to correct and comfort your pet.

Symptoms of Dysplasia

The signs of elbow dysplasia will manifest themselves through a marked difference in the activity of the dog, such as limping, avoiding pressure on the affected leg or even carrying the leg altogether. Sometimes both elbows will display signs of elbow dysplasia and the dog will have difficulty with the simplest of tasks like standing up or walking.

Upon these first signs of symptoms, veterinarians may take x-rays of the affected joints to pinpoint what form of elbow dysplasia your dog has in order to treat it. Doing so early will prevent further damage to the still developing elbow joint, as letting the condition get worse will not only injure your pet's growth but will cause their pain and discomfort to become worse.

Treating Elbow Dysplasia

The form of treatment depends on the type of abnormality the dog has suffered, but most common remedies are medical or aerobic instead of surgical. Veterinarians often suggest a specific diet so as to maintain the weight of the dog, relieving undue pressure on the joints. A workout program is also prescribed, consisting of limited exercise routines designed to help the dog correct the abnormality through movement while keeping the threshold of injury low.

If the pain is too difficult in the diagnosis, pain medications and anti-inflammatory drugs are usually prescribed to help the dog cope with their condition. Surgery is also an option, which requires removal of the affected bone or cartilage and in cases of un-united anconeal process, involves the use of pins and screws to re-attach the bones that have not grown together correctly.

In every case, any treatments prescribed will usually help the dog live a normal life in approximately a year or two and they will show no signs of the condition. But this does not guarantee the animal will not be afflicted by arthritis or other joint diseases later in life and any dog with this diagnosis must be monitored accordingly.