How Can I Tell If My Dog Has Elbow Dysplasia
Video 1 from Fitzpatrick Referrals on Vimeo: This is a pronounced head nod typical of a dog with elbow origin lameness.
Elbow dysplasia is the most common cause of forelimb lameness in young, large and giant breed dogs. Most dogs have a limp on one or both front legs. This can be seen as a nodding of the head when the good leg is placed and lifting of the head when the bad leg is placed. Some dogs that limp on both front legs will not have a limp, but will have an unusual paddling gait. Lameness is often triggered by prolonged rest and exercise. For this reason, many dogs will be lame when they wake up but after a warm up they will exercise freely and limp again afterwards. Although most dogs will be diagnosed before they are two years old, some dogs will not limp until they are older. Collectively, elbow dysplasia and elbow osteoarthritis are the commonest causes of forelimb lameness in dogs of any age. Small dogs can also be affected by elbow dysplasia and this problem should be suspected in any dog with forelimb lameness that has not been caused by trauma.
Coronoid Process Overloading Due To Conflict With The Radius:
In some affected elbow joints, stress fractures of the coronoid process of the ulna could be the consequence of repetitive impact from the adjacent radial head. The anatomical structure with most contribution to this repetitive impact is a branch of the biceps tendon. This could be because every time the biceps muscle contracts it causes the radius to impact the ulna around an area known as radial incisure of the ulna . Treatment of this problem may be undertaken by a surgical procedure called biceps ulnar release.
Does Pet Insurance Cover Elbow Dysplasia
Elbow dysplasia is covered by many pet insurance companies, as long as your dog has coverage before he shows any signs of the condition when it is then considered pre-existing.
Since elbow dysplasia usually affects both sides of the body, policies would have to cover bilateral conditions to cover treatment of both forelimbs.
With the cost of surgery and even rehab costing anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000, pet insurance can save you up to 90% of the cost.
Plans like Healthy Paws can help with not only the cost of surgery but the rehab that is required to help your dog heal with alternative therapy being covered in all their plans.
If you have a breed that is pre-disposed to this condition, make sure that you enroll your dog in a pet insurance plan before your pup exhibits symptoms and the condition is then called pre-existing.
Read Also: Tommie Copper Knee Compression Sleeve
How Do You Treat Elbow Dysplasia In Dogs
If your dog has developed elbow dysplasia, there are a few things you can do. First of all, its important to keep your pets weight down, as heavier animals will suffer greater discomfort. Your dog should get regular, gentle exercise short walks on a lead are best.
Try to make sure your dog doesnt overexert itself by running or jumping too much. It should also get lots of rest and recuperation after exercise.
In some cases, painkillers or anti-inflammatories may reduce discomfort. Its also possible to opt for surgery or physiotherapy in order to treat the problem, or improve the condition of the joint.
Treatment Options For Dogs With Elbow Dysplasia
Treatment for elbow dysplasia in dogs depends on how severe the condition and the symptoms are. This can range from simple lifestyle changes to orthopedic surgeries. Dogs with mild symptoms of elbow dysplasia do not typically need invasive treatment options like surgery, and often respond well to medical management and lifestyle change.
Management of mild to moderate elbow dysplasia typically includes anti-inflammatory medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or corticosteroids, sometimes given together with other analgesics. Joint supplements such as glucosamine chondroitin are often prescribed as maintenance to help manage the condition and delay the progression of joint damage.
Your vet may also recommend physical therapy or exercise restriction depending on the severity of the clinical signs. Its also important that your dogs weight is maintained properly, as excessive weight gain puts additional pressure on the elbow joint and can make the condition worse.
In severe cases of elbow dysplasia, surgery is considered to be the best treatment option. The approach to surgical treatment can either be the traditional open surgery where the elbow joint is exposed or the less invasive arthroscopic approach where small incisions are made around the joint, and arthroscopes are inserted and used to perform the surgery.
Read Also: Why Is My Shoulder Hurting
What Does Elbow Dysplasia Look Like In Dogs
There are several symptoms of elbow dysplasia in dogs that you can look out for in your puppy. First, you may notice that your dog gets stiffness in their front legs that causes them to limp. The limp is usually worse after exercising and doesnât go away even after your dog is rested. Cold, damp weather can also affect your dogâs joints. Over time, the stiffness and limp get worse, usually over a period of weeks or months. If both front legs are affected, it might be difficult to notice or diagnose since it might just look like an uneven gait.
In some serious cases, your dogâs elbows might become swollen and puffy. You may notice that their front paws point out or that their elbows stick out at a strange angle. Since elbow dysplasia in dogs is painful and usually leads to canine arthritis, your dog might not be excited to play or even go for a walk.
These symptoms can cause your dog to lose a normal range of motion and you may eventually hear a crunching noise at their elbow joints. Your dogâs pain may even progress into lameness.
Causes And Signs Of Chronic Pain
Chronic pain doesn’t necessarily cause the extreme agony of an acute injury, but in the long runit can make a deeper impact on a dog’s quality of life by lingering or recurring indefinitely. Avariety of problems can create chronic pain in dogs, from digestive disorders and muscle spasmsto slipped discs and previous surgeries. However, most cases stem from osteoarthritis. Thisdegeneration of joint cartilage affects dogs much as it does humans, producing chronic pain andstiffness. You can’t always tell from your dog’s stance and gait whether it suffers from chronicpain. However, your dog may also lose interest in favorite activities ,vocalize when the bad feels especially severe, or refuse to let you pet it. These symptomsshould prompt you to schedule a veterinary exam.
Also Check: Pain Relief From Tennis Elbow
Elbow Dysplasia In Dogs: Final Thoughts
Canine elbow dysplasia is a debilitating condition that can decrease your dogs quality of life. There are options for treatment that have proven successful, but the condition can only be managed, not cured.
The problem typically affects large or giant breed dogs. So if youre looking for or have one of these, you might ask your vet for radiographs to check the status of their joints.
Breeders can help the problem by instituting sound breeding plans that check for this disease and prevent affected dogs from breeding. That is what will help the most.
Canine Breeds Most Vulnerable To Elbow Dysplasia
While all dogs can get elbow dysplasia, some breeds may be more vulnerable than others. The disease mainly affects the large breed dogs and giant breed dogs such as
- German shepherds
- Bernese mountain dogs
Nevertheless, you must understand that the condition is not specific to any breed. It may also affect the smaller animal breeds. Take your dogs to the vet when you notice any symptoms or signs.
You May Like: Pain In Base Of Thumb And Wrist
Exercise During Your Dogs Early Years:
It is important at an early stage of growth that a dogs’ growth plates form correctly and unfortunately certain activities can be detrimental to this. This can include ball throwing, extended periods of exercise unsuitable for your puppy’s age, jumping, or running on unstable surfaces. Dog elbow dysplasia surgery costs can turn into many thousands of pounds, so it worth trying to avoid this kind of activity.
When your puppy is developing, its bones are connected through cartilage forming a temporary joint cartilage which over time develops into bone is held by ligaments, tendons and muscles. Whilst this holds the joints in place, inappropriate movements can dislodge these joints. It is at this point the dysplasia starts .
What Breeds Of Dogs Are Most Affected
Elbow dysplasia can occur in any dog breed, but it is seen more frequently in large or giant breed dogs. Bernese Mountain Dogs, Newfoundlands, German Shepherds, Labrador retrievers, Rottweilers, and Golden retrievers are the dog breeds that are most commonly affected.
Part of the problem with large breed dogs is that they grow from such a small size to such a large size very rapidly. The rapid growth that occurs in young dogs can create problems when something as complex as the elbow joint is forming. The same problem occurs with hip dysplasia, and these same breeds often have issues with that.
Recommended Reading: Why Does My Wrist Ache
What Is The Cause Of Elbow Dysplasia
Figure 1: This image shows the pattern of stress fracture radiating from part of the coronoid process of the ulna.
Picture 2: This is a microscopic image of a crack forming beneath the surface before it is visible at the surface. Fitzpatrick Referrals were responsible for the landmark research that showed that medial coronoid disease began in the bone beneath the surface and was not primarily a disease of cartilage.
This condition is primarily of genetic cause although environmental factors, such as obesity during puppyhood, may influence whether an animal with the genes coding for elbow dysplasia will develop a clinical problem. Current estimates state that more than one hundred genes code for elbow dysplasia. Our ultimate goal will be to genetically map affected animals and tailor breed programmes to minimise this disease.
What Are The Early Signs Of Elbow Dysplasia In Dogs
If your dog struggles to bear weight on one or more paws, this may be a sign of elbow dysplasia.
You may also notice the affected paw turning outwards a little more than the others. A stiff manner of walking, particularly after exercise, and on rising, or a reluctance to exercise at all can also suggest elbow dysplasia.
You May Like: Why Does My Right Shoulder Hurt
Free Car Insurance Comparison
Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save
Secured with SHA-256 Encryption
Melanie Musson is the fourth generation in her family to work in the insurance industry. She grew up with insurance talk as part of her everyday conversation and has studied to gain an in-depth knowledge of state-specific car insurance laws and dynamics as well as a broad understanding of how insurance fits into every persons life, from budgets to coverage levels. She also specializes in automa…
Written byMelanie MussonPublished Insurance Expert
Dr Pippa Elliott BVMS, MRCVS is a veterinarian with over 30 years experience in companion animal practice. In 1987 she graduated from the University of Glasgow, with a degree in veterinary medicine and surgery. A love of the sea meant accepting her first job in the port town of Portsmouth, England. AAfter working in private practice for two years, her next position was as a vet at the People…
Pet Insurance U receives compensation from the third parties included on this site. This includes payment for clicks from our site to insurance providers sites and quote requests generated. Our rankings and reviews are not affected by payments from the insurance companies. The compensation we receive allows the site to be free and regularly updated. Our goal is to review every pet insurance provider, but not all companies are listed on the site.
On This Page
Signs Causes And Treatment Of Elbow Dysplasia In Dogs
According to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, canine elbow dysplasia in dogs, or ED, is an inherited condition that causes several developmental abnormalities in your dogs elbow joint.
The elbow joint is on your dogs forelimb. It is one of the more complex joints because its formed by three bones: the radius, the ulna, and the humerus. Most of the time, elbow dysplasia affects both of your dogs front legs.
The bones in this joint need to fit together perfectly, but sometimes certain growth abnormalities, as well as an abnormal distribution of weight on the various parts of the joint, can cause problems. When this happens, your dog might exhibit lameness or he might even develop arthritis early in life.
Dysplasia is just a technical word for abnormal growth. Elbow dysplasia involves several different conditions fragmented coronoid process , osteochondrosis , joint incongruity and cartilage anomaly, and ununited anconeal process which are all lumped into the condition known as medial compartment disease.
The fragmented medial coronoid process is a projection on the ulna that develops a fissure or crack. An ununited anconeal process is when a part of the ulna fails to unite with the main bone. Joint or elbow incongruity refers to the situation where parts of the elbow joint that should be touching are not, while parts that shouldnt be touching are.
Also Check: Wrist Hurts When Bending Back
Physiotherapy And Rehabilitation Therapy For Elbow Dysplasia
All dogs with a diagnosis of elbow dysplasia, whether managed medically or surgically, benefit from physiotherapy to make their life more comfortable and improve mobility. At Dogs In Motion, we will work with the veterinary surgeon to provide your pet with a tailored rehabilitation program, specific to your petâs needs and time since diagnosis or surgery.
Treatment ideally would start 5 -7 days after surgery, or on diagnosis if being managed conservatively. Treatment may include manual therapy techniques such as massage and joint mobilisation, modalities such as heat and ice, dry needling for pain relief, or a supportive brace to limit motion and pain. Advice on appropriate bedding will be provided to ensure your pet is well supported.
Hydrotherapy plays an important role in the rehabilitation program for dogs with elbow dysplasia. Underwater treadmill is ideal for patients with elbow dysplasia. The buoyancy of the water means strengthening can occur with less joint loading and pain. This is ideally performed 2-3 times per week for acceleration of muscle growth. Strengthening of the surrounding muscles will help support the elbows and reduce pain.
A customised home exercise program will be provided at your petâs initial evaluation, so you can continue therapy at home on a daily basis. This will also include an outline of exercise restrictions specific to your petâs stage of healing or disease and your home environment.
Diagnosing Elbow Dysplasia In Dogs
Diagnosing canine elbow dysplasia based on symptoms alone is not reliable since some dogs can be asymptomatic for several years. Even dogs that do show symptoms often only exhibit subtle, intermittent signs of lameness, making detection difficult.
Canine elbow dysplasia is diagnosed through a combination of physical examination and diagnostic imaging such as radiographs , CT scans, MRI scans, or arthroscopy to visualize the elbow joint in real-time. Your veterinarian will manipulate your dogs elbows and forelegs to detect any lameness or pain. Typically, a dog with elbow dysplasia will show pain when the joint is bent or extended fully. Your vet will also let your dog walk and trot around to detect any hints of lameness during movement.
Also Check: Pain On The Inside Of The Elbow
Causes Of Elbow Dysplasia In Dogs
Elbow dysplasia in canines is considered to be primarily a genetic developmental disease. Other possible contributing factors may be growth rate, high protein diet, trauma, hormonal imbalances, poor nutrition, rapid weight gain and level of exercise.
A canines elbow is made up of three bones, the ulna, the radius and the humerus. These three bones are meant to fit together to form the elbow joint. In ED there is an abnormal developmental problem which results in impaired joint formation.
Balance Activity Levels To Help Your Dog
When thinking about exercising a dog with elbow dysplasia, you should reduce intense activity with your dog. Dogs with elbow dysplasia should be kept on a leash at all times, and they should not run, jump, or climb stairs.
If you have an agility course at home, either remove it or cover the jumps if you can’t get rid of them altogether. It may also be wise to turn down invitations to play fetch and tug-of-war with other dogs, at least until your dog is feeling better, as the extra strain can exacerbate the problem in your dog’s elbows.
This coincides with preventing excessive exercise. Keeping your pet active is important for maintaining good health, but if they have elbow dysplasia, it’s best to limit their activities so they don’t overwork their joints too much or too often . This will help prevent further damage and inflammation in his joints.
Also Check: How To Tape Your Knee
What Dogs Are At Risk For Elbow Dysplasia
While all dogs can develop elbow dysplasia, this condition typically affects large breeds that grow in size very rapidly in a short time. Since its a developmental disorder, the onset of symptoms can start as early as 5 months of age and become progressively worse over time.
Elbow dysplasia is an inherited condition that can affect most breeds of dogs, with some being more at risk than others. Some breeds that are highly predisposed to developing elbow dysplasia include German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Rottweilers, Newfoundland, and English Springer Spaniels. About 80% of reported cases of elbow dysplasia in dogs are found to affect both elbows of the dog.