Another condition that is fairly common in large and giant breeds and that seriously affects the quality of life of your dog. Many owners are unaware of this disease and in this article, we will try to explain what elbow dysplasia in dogs is, some of the treatment options, and how much it costs.
What is elbow dysplasia in dogs?
Elbow dysplasia is a progressive disease that affects the elbow joints of the front legs. In many cases, the reason for this wrong development of the bones leads to pain when walking.
The elbow joint is formed by three bones: the humerus which is the upper forearm bone and the radius and ulna bones, which are the lower forearm bones. They are connected in a joint that allows dogs to extend and flex their front legs.
Owners usually get confused when their vet tries to explain to them elbow dysplasia. To make things clear, elbow dysplasia is a term used to describe changes in the elbow, in general. However, specific diseases that affect these bones, lead to elbow dysplasia:
–Ununited anconeal process: the anconeal process in part of the ulna that integrates with the humerus and gives the stability of the elbow joint. In some cases, this small piece of bone does not connect with the ulna and leads to elbow dysplasia development.
–Fragmented medial coronoid process: this is also part of the ulnar bone that takes part of the elbow joint. Sometimes, this piece of bone can get malformed or it won’t attach properly to the ulna, staying free and floating in the elbow joint.
-Osteochondritis dissecans of the medial humeral condyle: the medial humeral condyle is part of the upper forearm bone – the humerus which takes part in the elbow joint formation. In cases when this part of the bone does not develop correctly, it leads to elbow dysplasia
-Elbow incongruity: this term is used to describe the bad alignment of the bones in the elbow joint. It usually happens when the shape of the ulnar trochlear notch is abnormally formed or there is a difference in the length of the radius and ulna.
All of these changes in the elbow will eventually lead to inflammation in the elbow joint and the development of osteoarthritis. Dogs that have this disease will surely be in a lot of pain and discomfort and they may be reluctant to move and play.
What are the symptoms and how is elbow dysplasia in dogs diagnosed?
This condition is known to develop in young puppies, however, symptoms may not show until later stages of their life. Dogs that have elbow dysplasia may show mild signs of on-and-off pain and some lameness. How serious the lameness is would usually depend on the severity of the condition and the abnormality of the joint.
For the vet to diagnose this condition, they will request that you walk the dog for them, so that they can see the movement. After that vets usually perform an orthopedic examination and lastly they may ask for some x-rays. In some cases, CT scanning helps determine the exact cause of elbow dysplasia, but the best way to give a final diagnosis is through arthroscopy.
What are the treatment options for dogs with elbow dysplasia?
Using arthroscopy, orthopedic surgeons can determine the cause of elbow dysplasia and during the same procedure, treat it. However, some cases may require open joint surgery. The outcome of this and the healing itself will usually depend on the degree of severity. If there is a strong presence of arthritis in the joint, the surgeon may reconsider doing any invasive procedure.
Other options for treatment include managing the pain and adding some supplementation for the joint. Vets also recommend weight management and some exercise that will help your dog stay active and yet not complicate matters for them.
For dogs that are candidates for the surgical treatment option, the owner should expect to pay between $2000 and $4000.