Osteochondrosis (OCD) in Dogs

Osteochondrosis is a relatively uncommon condition in dogs that can cause a great deal of pain and mobility issues. It is characterized by fragments of bone and cartilage which become detached from larger bones and body parts and end up floating freely in the area of the joints. The result is that any movement in the joint in which those fragments are located will cause your dog a great deal of pain. This is a congenital problem and is believed to be passed down through family lines. Read on for additional information about Osteochondrosis (also called OCD) in dogs.

Osteochondrosis Overview

Osteochondrosis generally strikes larger dogs, who seem to be predisposed to the condition. It is defined as a disease of the cartilage and affects the cartilage as it transitions into a bone piece. The result is that large flaps of cartilage and bone oftentimes develop off of the ends of the dogs bones. These can easily become detached, where they'll float freely and cause your pet a great deal of pain.

The result of these free floating bone and cartilage pieces can be that your pet develops arthritis, that he develops secondary degenerative joint disease, or any number of other side effects and health concerns as well. There are multiple variations of osteochondrosis, and it typically affects the joints at the ankle, shoulder, elbow and knee on one or both sides of your pet's body.

Osteochondrosis types are differentiated according to the location on the body in which they strike or are based. They are also separated out from one another based on the severity and the primary cause of the condition as well. It is much more common for OCD to strike in the forelimbs than it is for the condition to arise in your dog's hind feet and legs.

Osteochondrosis Symptoms

In order to properly treat and identify osteochondrosis in your pet, you'll first need to be able to recognize the various symptoms of this disease. It can develop at any stage of life, though it seems to be more common in younger dogs than in older ones. Watch for any of the following warning signs:

  • Pain at the touch
  • Lameness or difficulty moving around
  • Muscle degeneration at the affected side of the body
  • General restriction of movement

Diagnosing and Treating Osteochondrosis

Your vet can diagnose your pet's osteochondrosis through a series of x-ray tests. In order to treat the disease, you'll need to combine medicinal treatments with a combination of lifestyle changes. Pain relievers can be helpful in immediate assistance to your dog's discomfort. You should also work with your vet on ways to modify his exercise regimen to ensure that he can still be active. Finally, overfeeding contributes heavily to damage of the joints due to osteochondrosis, so you should work with your vet to determine whether your dog's diet is properly supporting his joint health or if it can be changed to be more effective.