Hereditary diseases

Elbow Dysplasia in Dogs

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. Updated: February 22, 2018
Elbow Dysplasia in Dogs

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All dogs provide exceptional company, because the relationship between animal and human is usually very deep. Dogs have such good natures that we shouldn't be surprised by the fact that they are considered our best friends, or that they are currently used as therapy animals for numerous disorders.

There are many kinds of dogs in the world. Many people have a real soft spot for larger dogs, including beautiful breeds like the German Shepherd, the Golden Retriever or the Bernese Mountain Dog.

In some cases, however, being large makes our friends more susceptible to various diseases, so keep yourself informed with this AnimalWised article on the symptoms and treatment of elbow dysplasia in dogs.

  1. What is elbow dysplasia?
  2. Symptoms of elbow dysplasia in dogs
  3. How is elbow dysplasia in dogs diagnosed?
  4. Treatment of elbow dysplasia in dogs
  5. Can you prevent elbow dysplasia in dogs?

What is elbow dysplasia?

Elbow dysplasia in dogs is a disease that affects the elbow joint unilaterally or bilaterally and develops while the dog is growing. With dysplasia, the bone tissue is altered and doesn't develop properly. It also tends to affect the hips.

The first thing that happens is arthritis, that is, inflammation of the joint. This is followed by osteoarthritis, which progressively wears down the bone tissue and the structures forming the joint.

Dysplasia is a genetic disease that is transmitted from generation to generation. However, environmental factors or diet also seem to play a crucial part. Dogs that usually suffer from this disease are large breeds, especially the following:

  • Neapolitan Mastiff
  • Rottweiler
  • Saint Bernard
  • Labrador
  • Golden Retriever
  • German Shepherd
Elbow Dysplasia in Dogs - What is elbow dysplasia?

Symptoms of elbow dysplasia in dogs

Since this is a disease that affects the dog's growth and development, the early symptoms become noticeable when the puppy is between 4 and 5 months old. If a dog suffers from elbow dysplasia you will observe the following:

  • Limping when they start to move
  • Limping after prolonged exercise
  • Unable to exercise
  • Signs of pain

If you observe any of these symptoms in your puppy, go to the vet as soon as possible. It is really important to diagnose elbow dysplasia early so you can begin treatment as soon as possible, therefore reducing pain and keeping your dog's ability to move at its best.

If the diagnosis is not made in time, your dog's ability to function will be affected for the rest of its life and its quality of life will progressively decline.

Elbow Dysplasia in Dogs - Symptoms of elbow dysplasia in dogs

How is elbow dysplasia in dogs diagnosed?

To diagnose elbow dysplasia in dogs, the vet will base their diagnosis on the medical history of the patient and the symptoms present. Then, they will perform a complete physical examination to assess other signs that could indicate the presence of this disease.

The vet will also seek diagnostic evidence with images, usually with X-rays. However, in some cases elbow dysplasia cannot be seen in the x-ray until the dog is one year old.

Treatment of elbow dysplasia in dogs

Treating elbow dysplasia can be done in various ways. As always, it is preferable to opt for the less invasive treatment. The first option you can resort to is an orthopedic supplement in order to properly secure the elbow joint. The vet may also advise rest, waiting for the disease to spontaneously resolve itself, or administer painkillers to reduce the pain.

Surgery is reserved for serious cases, but it is still commonly used to treat this disease.

The development of the disease varies greatly, depending on the degree of the injury. However, the prognosis is generally very favorable if surgery has been carried out before osteoarthritis has appeared. However, it is not so good if no surgery takes place.

Elbow Dysplasia in Dogs - Treatment of elbow dysplasia in dogs

Can you prevent elbow dysplasia in dogs?

This disease cannot always be prevented, but it is your responsibility to take the various dietetic hygiene measures to reduce the possibility of your dog suffering from elbow dysplasia. Read them below:

  • Dogs susceptible to elbow dysplasia or dogs who have developed it early must avoid excess calcium, vitamins and protein in their diet.
  • It is important to control the genetic probability of elbow dysplasia by preventing dogs who suffer from it from breeding.
  • While the dog is growing, you must enforce limited exercise, avoiding all exercises that could cause trauma or high-impact on the joints.

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Elbow Dysplasia in Dogs, we recommend you visit our Hereditary diseases category.

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G. Mary
I have had several German shepherd dogs. My last puppy at 2 mo.'s old was limping but had gotten hurt by an older puppy landing on her leg. I Took her in and had an ex-ray done. They thought they saw a small piece of bone in elbow not connected. I waited two months and took her to the local animal college hospital. They took ex-rays they told me one of her bones in her leg was longer than the other bone. Would cost 5k, to saw her bone put extensions in etc.. We decided to wait and see. We changed her food to adult food. Bones are amazing and will fix things on their own as I had a son break two arms and learned a lot from this. We also waited to fix her, and did this when she was year and half. Since this she hasn't limped at all. Also to this day she runs 15 acres everyday and has never limped and is extremely agile and very fast. The vet that last saw her couldn't believe how she has no systems of elbow issues. She actually escaped our yard and ran 30 miles before we got her back. No issues. So I recommend with large puppies and large feet, put them on adult dog food so they don't grow so fast. Don't fix them until they are two years old as nature does help a lot.
Administrador AnimalWised
Thank you so much for sharing and giving your input.
Barbara Allison
Does it take both sire and dam carrying the problem to produce puppies with elbow problems.
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Elbow Dysplasia in Dogs