Elbow Dysplasia in Dogs

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Elbow Dysplasia in Dogs

Dysplasia in DogsIf you have a large breed dog, then you have probably heard all about hip dysplasia, since it is a common occurrence in large breeds. Hip dysplasia’s counterpart, elbow dysplasia, also occurs frequently in certain breeds. Elbow dysplasia is just as serious as hip dysplasia, so it is important that you are able to recognize the signs of the disease. Your veterinarian can confirm the problem, and a treatment plan can be started immediately.

Like hip dysplasia, understanding elbow dysplasia can be pretty tough. Since we aren’t veterinarians or surgeons, this article will keep things as simple as possible. If you would like to find out more about how the problem develops, then do a little research. It’s a not a rare problem, so there is a ton of information about it. (You can start your elbow dyslplasia information search by clicking here). Your veterinarian can also provide you with literature containing pictures and diagrams to help you get a better grasp on what is really going on with your pet. Basically, elbow dysplasia affects the dog’s front legs in a similar way to the way hip dysplasia affects the dog’s hind legs; both are problems with the joints. If left untreated, arthritis develops, causing lameness and extreme pain for the dog.

It’s easy to say that large breeds suffer from the problem. But, there are certain breeds that are more likely than others to develop elbow dysplasia. The Bernese Mountain Dog, Chow Chow, English Setter, Golden Retriever, Irish Wolfhound, Labrador Retriever, Mastiff, Newfoundland, Rottweiler, and Saint Bernard (among others) have all been known to suffer from the disease. If you are considering (or have already gotten) a purebred dog, then speak to the breeder about any medical problems in the line. Elbow dysplasia should be reported on the certificate, but it never hurts to ask.

Dysplasia in DogsA dog with elbow dysplasia can start showing signs of the dysplasia as early as six months of age. Limping, lameness, and a limited range of motion are often the first signs. Normally, the joint will also swell. It is not too common for only one leg to be affected; most of the time, the dog is having problems with both legs. If your dog is in pain, then take him to your veterinarian as soon as possible. Your dog uses his legs and joints in more ways than just walking around; the pain of elbow dysplasia is serious.

There are a few ways to diagnose dysplasia. X-rays and CAT scans are the most commonly used diagnostic tools. Your pet will probably be given pain medication (if not anesthesia) for the diagnosis. Once elbow dysplasia is confirmed, a treatment plan will be started immediately. If the dog is still fairly young and the disease is still in its beginning stages, then your vet may prescribe pain medication and a strict exercise and diet plan to help build the muscles around the joint and to keep excess weight off your pet. Sometimes, this plan can keep the disease at bay throughout the dog’s life. Surgery is another treatment option, and veterinarians say that it is the most successful one. After the surgery, your pooch will be placed on bed rest for four to six weeks. During this time, you are instructed not to play with or encourage your pooch to move; however, short leash walks are recommended.

Whether you opt for your pet to have surgery or decide that pain medication is the better choice, you must understand that your pet will more than likely suffer from arthritis later on in life. Even dogs that have undergone surgery develop arthritis; although, it is usually less severe and starts later in life than the dogs that did not undergo the surgery. Elbow dysplasia can be extremely painful; and, if left untreated, can cause lameness for the sufferer.

Dysplasia in DogsIt seems that hip dysplasia is a fairly well known topic; but, its counterpart is still relatively unknown. Elbow dysplasia is similar to hip dysplasia. It is very painful for the pooch and can lead to severe arthritis. If you suspect your pet is suffering, then take him to the veterinarian immediately. Your veterinarian can diagnose the disease and get your pet started on a treatment plan. No matter what treatment method you choose, you should keep your pet’s health and wellbeing in mind.

And don’t overlook the natural elbow dysplasia treatment options. They really do work well and can be much less stressful on your dog’s body than pain medications. If in doubt, discuss the natural options with your vet, or read the information here.

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6 thoughts on “Elbow Dysplasia in Dogs

  1. Brigitte Smith

    Hi Reese,

    Perhaps a vet or a breeder would be best to answer this, but my understanding is that dysplasia (hip dysplasia or elbow dysplasia or other types) is a congenital condition that is, or can be, hereditary.

    So to be safe, you should never breed a dog that has any query over its head, so to speak, as the idea of breeding is to breed the very best, so as to retain the integrity of the breed.

    It’s probably not the answer you want …


  2. Jess

    My 2 year old Rotti was diagnosed with elbow dysplasia just after we got a new pup. Is having a pup around him too much stress for him, physically?

    Thanks, Jess.

  3. Cat

    My 7mth old dashound cross was just diagonsed with elbow dysplasia and am not sure what to do wether to get surgery of do the month of ingections. every thing i seem to be reading is telling me not to get surgery. i want to do what is best for my little sausage….. can u offer some advice?

  4. Brigitte Smith

    Hi Cat,

    Sorry, I’m not qualified to give the advice advice you’re asking for. As you know, I’m not a vet.

    But what did your vet recommend? Did s/he recommend one option over the other, or simply give you the two options and ask you which one you choose? If you were given the two options without a recommendation of one over the other, then I’d PROBABLY go for the non-surgical option if it were me. But it would depend upon whether there were any potential adverse side effects from the injections, and if so, what they were.

    Have you looked into the natural alternatives? If the proposed treatment is not urgent, then maybe you may want to consider those. See, e.g. http://www.HealthyHappyDogs.com/NaturalArthritisTreatment

    Do not ever ignore your vet’s advice. But if the situation is not urgent, you could (if you wish) discuss with your vet the fact that you would like to try natural alternatives first. Personally, that is the approach that I would take if the circumstances allowed that.

    But only you can decide what’s best for your dog. You should be guided by your vet, of course, but also make sure you have all the facts, and all your possible options, before making a decision.

    Hope this helps a little.


  5. ree

    just wondering is elbow displaysia always hereditary or genetic or can it just sometimes happen?? and can it be causeed by an underlying injury?

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