Rocky’s Viewpoint

Rockys Viewpoint

A blog for people who treat their dogs better than family

Elbow Dysplasia in Dogs

My dog Beau, a seven and a half year old 70 pound mix breed was just diagnosed with elbow dysplasia. Most people are familiar with hip dysplasia in dogs, but what about elbow dysplasia (ED)?  Elbow dysplasia is a very real problem in many breeds. Medium and large breed dogs are most vulnerable but it can be seen in smaller breeds. It is a genetic abnormality and is controlled by a combination of many genes. It begins when the dog is a puppy and continues throughout his life.  

The causes of ED are genetic, developmental and nutritional.  The most important factor is the genetic make-up of the dog. Other factors such as growth rate, diet and level of exercise may influence its severity. The age of onset is generally four to ten months of age.

What can be done to help if your dog is diagnosed with elbow dysplasia? The treatment often recommended by veterinarians is a combination of medical and surgical management. For me, for the time being, I’m choosing non-medical management. This consists of weight control, giving him supplements, feeding him a high quality grain free diet, and regular swimming exercise in our warm water pool. Swimming in a warm water pool is the best form of exercise because it’s non-weight bearing. If it becomes necessary I’ll add anti-inflammatory and pain medications.

With elbow dysplasia, arthritis is inevitable. Depending on severity, there may be alternatives to medical and/or surgical means. Nutraceutical supplements including glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate (from shellfish), green lipped mussel, or an injectable form such as Adequan have generated positive results. These supplements protect the joint by helping to rebuild cartilage and restoring joint fluid.  Hyaluronic acid was used in horses for years and now being used with dogs.

There are a lot of options for management if your dog has this condition. Know those options and choose the best course for your dog, starting early. That way, your dog will continue to have the best life possible and that’s what we all want for our beloved four legged friends.