Elbow Dysplasia In Dogs
Elbow dysplasia in dogs is an abnormal development of the elbow joint. The canine elbow is made up of 3 separate bones, the radius, the ulna, and the humerus. These front foreleg bones need to grow and develop in unison to maintain a tight-fit and smooth moving elbow joint. The development of abnormalities mainly occurs in medium-sized and large breed dogs. It is a painful condition that can lead to lameness and arthritis.
There are three common developmental problems that are often referred to as elbow dysplasia, namely a fragmented coronoid process (FCP), osteochondritis dissecans (OCD), and ununited anconeal process (UAP). Dogs that develop elbow dysplasia typically only have one of these three conditions. For a dog to develop more than one of these conditions would be extremely rare.
A dog with elbow dysplasia will show signs of foreleg joint pain, inflammation, and difficulty walking. Below we discuss the three conditions leading to elbow dysplasia, signs and symptoms, and treatment options.
Elbow Dysplasia Overview
Dogs with elbow dysplasia will typically show signs of this condition between 4 months and a year in age. Researchers believe that this condition is often caused by an unsynchronized growth of the three foreleg bones, causing a misalignment of the elbow joint. Elbow dysplasia can also be the result of obesity putting more weight on the joint as well as poor or malnutrition.
Research indicates that the condition can be inherited, and in some breeds like the Labrador Retriever it affects males 75% more commonly than females. Large breed dogs such as German Shepherds, Labradors, Bernese Mountain Dogs and Rottweilers are the breeds most prone to developing elbow dysplasia. Here is an overview of the three conditions that make up elbow dysplasia:
Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD or OD) is a joint disorder where cracks develop in the articular cartilage and the underlying subchondral bone. OCD causes pain and swelling of the elbow joint which may catch or lock up during movement.
Fragmented Coronoid Process (FCP) is a defect of one of the coronoid processes, the two small bony protrusions on the end of the ulna within the elbow joint. When this occurs, one of the coronoid processes develops a fissure or crack and separates or breaks off from the rest of the bone.
Ununited Anconeal Process (UAP) occurs when a small bony projection called the anconeal process fails to connect and fuse with the ulna, the smaller of the two bones making up the lower foreleg. The anconeal process is critical for the proper healthy formation of the elbow joint.
While elbow dysplasia conditions usually develop during a dog’s first year, canine joint pain conditions are common in all ages and breeds of dogs – in fact one in five dogs are believed to have a form of joint arthritis.
Elbow Dysplasia Signs and Symptoms
The most common symptom of elbow dysplasia in dogs is elbow joint pain. While pain can sometimes be difficult to gauge in animals, since they rarely will cry out, and often instinctually try to hide it, there are other otherwise overt signs.
Crepitus is one such signal, this is a popping sound that is associated with elbow movement. It is caused by arthritis that occurs when the medial fragmented coronoid process is not corrected. Your dog may also show signs of a decrease in range of motion, where the leg is unable to flex or extend to its normal degree. Inflammation and swelling is another indicator where the tissue surrounding the elbow joint may be swollen and enlarged. Also, with this condition, both front legs are usually involved.
If you suspect that your dog may have elbow dysplasia or they are experiencing painful symptoms it is important to seek veterinary help to diagnose and treat your pet’s pain. This disease is diagnosed through an examination and x-rays. It is sometimes difficult to see a fragmented coronoid on an x-ray. So, your veterinarian may review images and indicate associated elbow arthritis, bony fragments near the coronoid process, or bone loss where the coronoid attaches to the ulna.
A veterinarian will also suspect this condition when no other cause of elbow dysplasia can be seen and there is evidence of arthritis in the elbow joint. A CT-scan may also be recommended to confirm the diagnosis.
Elbow Dysplasia Treatment For Dogs
While this condition is often hereditary, it also develops over time. And, as with any joint pain disease, the first step in avoiding it is prevention. There are a number of different precautions you can take to help protect your pet from this disease. Maintaining a healthy weight and diet are very important. Also, consider giving your pet a joint supplement to help prevent conditions from occurring. If your dog has been diagnosed with Elbow Dysplasia your vet may prescribe a medication such as a:
Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs – NSAIDs
NSAIDs are medications that relieve or reduce pain. The most popular examples of this group of drugs are TRAMADOL, RIMADYL (carprofen), METACAM (meloxicam), NOVOCOX (carprofen), GALLIPRANT or PREVICOX (firocoxib). Again, NSAIDs provide temporary relief and are not without long term use side effects. The side effects of NSAIDs are mainly seen in the digestive tract, kidneys, and liver. NSAIDs should be taken for the shortest amount of time and at the smallest effective dose to help avoid unwanted side effects.
Adequan is an injectable drug that can help repair cartilage and lubricate joints. While very expensive, it is an option to help reduce pain if it is in your budget. This drug is considered safer for long term use than other medications, but it does cost more and needs to be given as an injection by a veterinarian. Studies have shown success in its treatment of pain from elbow dysplasia. Adequan is not a cure, and relief will be temporary. Multiple injections may be required over time. Prolonged injections may cause vomiting, diarrhea, aggression or behavioral changes, and lethargy.
Surgery, in many cases, works well for elbow dysplasia if it is caught early, but owners should be aware that any component of arthritis that is already present in the elbow joint will continue to cause the dog pain, even after surgery. The most frequently used and effective surgery for this condition is the removal of the extra fragment of bone. If you decide with your vet that surgery is the best step for your pet, it is recommended to choose a board certified veterinary orthopedic surgeon who is able to do arthroscopic surgery.
Supplements for Elbow Dysplasia and Joint Pain
There is good scientific backed evidence that giving your pet a high quality joint supplement with glucosamine sulfate potassium is helpful for slowing the progression of the arthritis associated with elbow dysplasia. The right supplement also helps prevent ongoing damage to the joint and also decreases pain and swelling. Glucosamine supplements are not all the same, and should be in the form of glucosamine sulfate potassium for effectiveness, not the ineffective glucosamine hydrochloride form.
Using prescribed medications is a balancing act where you have to weigh the benefits against the risks. Considering an all-natural joint pain relief supplement that has no known side-effects may be a route you want to take in relieving your pet’s pain and discomfort. It is also a great preventative measure recommended by veterinarians.
Flexpet is an excellent solution to help alleviate the symptoms of elbow pain and help prevent it from occurring. Flexpet is an ethically-sourced, and all-natural alternative to medications that has been scientifically formulated to cushion and rebuild joints while decreasing inflammation.
In addition to helping relieve pain, Flexpet helps your dog in other ways. Its active ingredients work to lubricate your dog’s joints, as well as help rebuild joints and cartilage. There are also natural enzyme ingredients in Flexpet that make sure your dog is digesting the supplement properly, and that the healing aspects are being properly retained.
FlexPet’s patented ingredient CM8, also known as cetyl myristoleate, is a natural anti-inflammatory that lubricates and reduces swelling in the joints. Flexpet also contains:
GLUCOSAMINE SULFATE POTASSIUM: A naturally occurring chemical found in mammals that reduces stiffness, joint swelling and osteoarthritis related pain. Glucosamine plays a key role in cartilage construction and the incorporation of sulfur into cartilage.
MSM (METHYLSULFONYLMETHANE): MSM is a sulfur compound that occurs naturally in plants and animals. Sulfur is needed by the body to form connective tissue. The MSM in Flexpet products has been specially formulated to increase the absorption rate of sulfur.
HYDROLYZED COLLAGEN TYPE II: This is an ingredient found in cartilage, the connective tissue that cushions the joints. Collagen is made of amino acids (the building blocks of protein) and it is used in an effort to protect and rebuild joint cartilage.
BROMELAIN: An enzyme found naturally in pineapple is used to reduce swelling especially after surgery or injury. It has also been shown to reduce sinus inflammation.
ENZYME BLEND: Digestion is dependent on enzymes produced naturally by the body. Larger molecules like Cetyl Myristoleate require more effort for the body to digest and absorb. Our natural enzyme blend is a complex proteinaceous substance used to induce and accelerate reactions necessary for metabolism.
Giving your pet the recommended dose of Flexpet to treat elbow joint symptoms can help keep your pet healthy, happy, pain-free, and return to a more active lifestyle.
Let Flexpet Help
We are so confident in positive results, Flexpet comes with a 90-day money back guarantee. If you are unsatisfied simply return the empty pouches/bottles, and we’ll give you a refund of the purchase price – no hassles, no headaches.
The best thing you can do for your pet is to take all of the information into consideration and be mindful when deciding how to treat pain and disease like elbow dysplasia.
It can be upsetting to learn that your dog has joint pain or arthritis, but with the proper veterinary care and the help of supplements like Flexpet, your dog can continue to live a long, fulfilling life.
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