Inherited Or Developmental Dysplasias

Some pets are born with an inherited predisposition to develop a joint disease such as hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia or aseptic necrosis. This predisposition varies according to the breed and if much more common in dogs than in cats. These are the most common inherited joint diseases. All of them cause lameness and while their treatment is often similar to that of DJD, the discomfort or lack of function associated with some of these conditions can also be alleviated by surgical intervention

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is common in large, fast-growing breeds. While genetics plays a role in this painful hip condition, other factors such as overfeeding during puppyhood are also important. Instead of the ball of the femur sitting snugly in its deep cradle in the hip, the femoral head is more lax. It rubs against the socket. This wear and tear eventually leads to pain and lameness.

Diagnosis And Treatment

An initial diagnosis is made by breed history and feeling a hip joint for slackness (joint laxity). X-rays are used to grade the severity of hip dysplasia but remember there is no direct correlation between how bad hips look on x-ray and how bad your pet feels. We tailor treatment to your pet, not to the x-rays. Pets are treated as for DJD. When pain and lack of function is great a variety of surgical interventions including hip replacement is possible. Surgery is most realistic in young to middle-aged individuals.

Hip Dysplasia Prevention In Dogs

Keep pups thin and avoid physical stress on developing joints. Feed a diet formulated for fast growing dogs prone to joint problems. Dogs with hip dysplasia should be prevented from doing anything that places excess pressure on the hip joints. Ball games, for example, should be avoided.

The best prevention is selective breeding. Before breeding, dogs are x-rayed and their hips "scored" or "graded". An individual's score or grade can be compared to the breed average score. Of course, the lower the score or grade the better. We take x-rays according to the requirements of the BVA/Kennel Club scheme and the x-rays we take are ‘scored by independent experts-

Elbow Dysplasia

Most frequently seen in the Bernese Mountain Dog, Labrador and Golden Retrievers and Rottweiler, elbow dysplasia is really a constellation of different elbow problems including osteochondrosis (see below), fragmented coronoid process and ununited anconeal process, part of the ulna. It occurs during a pup's growth, from four to 10 months of age causing lameness that gets worse with exercise. In severe instances the elbow feels swollen and is held away from the body. The joint may have considerable loss of range of motion.

Diagnosis and treatment

The condition is diagnosed by x-rays and usually managed by strict weight control, careful exercise avoiding games that stress the joints and pain management. Surgical removal or repair of the ununited anconeal process or other fragments or surgical curetting of osteochondrosis lesions may be beneficial. X-ray schemes for elbow dysplasia are administered by the BVA/Kennel Club.

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