Elbow dysplasia ed in dogs

If you feel that your puppy is lame or the position of his front legs is somehow different, then these may already be the first symptoms of ED.

It is best to get an overview of the causes, symptoms and also treatment options yourself to be prepared for all eventualities.

Elbow dysplasia, what is it??

Elbow dysplasia is a chronic growth disorder of the elbow on the front legs of a dog. ED develops in puppyhood, usually between 4 months of age. and 8. Month. The disease is common among male dogs of the larger breeds, as they experience a greater thrust of longitudinal bones within these growing months.

During the rapid growth of dogs, a so-called incongruence of ulna and radius occurs in the elbow joint. This means that the bones in the joint grow unevenly and both cartilage mass and bone mass are no longer present in the correct ratio.

In most cases, ED is due to a genetic inherited disorder, similar to hip dysplasia. Especially affected are breeds like Labrador, Golden Retriever, German Shepherd, Rottweiler, Bernese Mountain Dog, Newfoundland, Chow-Chow and Dogue de Bordeaux.

The elbow dysplasia is classified in degrees of severity from 0 to 3, which indicate how far it is advanced. At the same time

– Grade 0 the condition of the normal and unaffected joint – Grade 1 a minimal change in shape, or a low-grade ED – Grade 2 a medium-grade ED – Grade 3 a high-grade ED

How does elbow dysplasia develop??

Elbow dysplasia can have various causes. Genetic predisposition is the most common likelihood, but rapid growth, weight gain and feeding can also play a role in its development.

About ¾ of all affected dogs suffer from a genetic defect. However, this inheritance is complex. Not yet fully researched. The reason for this is that the trait can be inherited independently from generation to generation.

If parents are carriers of ED, it is not safe to say that their puppies will be affected. This is also the case the other way round: If the parents are free of ED, their puppies could still be affected.

Nutrition can have a positive, as well as negative influence on growth. If a puppy is excessively supplied with energy and protein-rich food, this leads to a rapid weight gain and growth increase.

A developed overweight at the age of up to 7 months has a lasting effect on the length growth of the bones. At this time, elbow dysplasia that is not recognizable or not present, can become an acute clinical case.

With the different development of the bones ulna (ulna) and radius (radius) in the elbow, the joint does not develop symmetrically and there is an incorrect load. This can lead to bone and cartilage damage, cause pain, and eventually lead to osteoarthritis.

Forms of elbow dysplasia

Elbow dysplasia includes four main conditions, but other, rare changes in the elbow also fall under the term.

The four most common forms of ED include:

– the fragmented coronoid process (FPC) – the isolated anconeal process (IPA) – osteochondrosis dissecans (OCD) – incongruity of the elbow joint (INC)

FPC (Fragmented Coronoid Process)

Due to a displaced growth of ulna and radius, their contours in the joint shift, which stresses the coronoid process (cusp). The cusp can become severely damaged as a result, and bone-cartilage fragmentation occurs. It causes inflammation.

IPA (Isolated Proces Anconeus)

Delayed growth of the ulna may cause the growth plate between the proces anconeus and the ulna not to close and grow together (as usual), but to remain permanently open. This mobile bone structure causes pain, inflammation and eventually arthritis.

OCD (Osteochondrosis Dissecans)

If the bones grow too fast, cartilage cells cannot be converted into bone cells fast enough. As the layer of pure cartilage becomes thicker, the lower layers die before ossification can occur. Parts of the cartilage may become detached, or die completely. Joint fluid is distributed through cracks. Causes inflammation.

INC (Incongruence of the Elbow Joint)

As the ulna and radius grow, steps develop that place uneven stress on the joint surfaces. INC may be involved in a FPC. IPA may be involved. Cartilage and bones are damaged by the stress and inflammation occurs.


The symptoms of elbow dysplasia can be easily recognized by the individual behavior of the dog. You can see the first signs between the age of 4. and 8. Month recognize. Your dog will have pain when walking, as well as lameness and misalignment of the joint, among other symptoms.

These are the most common and distinct symptoms of elbow dysplasia:

– The paw is turned outward while the elbow is turned toward the body – Movement of the joint is restricted and causes noticeable pain – Your dog is sensitive to touch – The joint is warm and swollen – Especially after standing up, your dog is stiff and awkward on the front legs – The muscles of the front legs become more unstable and tense in the back – Your dog licks and gnaws at his joint


In order for the vet to get a picture of the problem, he x-rays your dog's joint in two planes. So he can get an overview, and compare the aspect ratios.

If this is not enough, a computed tomography (CT) scan is done, which provides further imaging findings. These, in combination with the symptoms, serve to fully diagnose ED.

The treatment options

As all forms of elbow dysplasia have different causes, there is no universal treatment. Their common features are that they are incurable. The necessity of therapy.

The aim of the treatment is to relieve the joints, to control the lameness and to make the progress of the disease as painless as possible for the dog.

Depending on the degree, form and symptoms of the ED, it must be decided whether surgery or a conservative type of therapy is appropriate.

The veterinarian decides to use conservative therapy if the degree of ED is mild or it was diagnosed too late. In this case, the treatment is adapted to the patient in order to allow him to continue living comfortably.

Conservative methods are weight reduction, movement restriction and physiotherapy. Also, cartilage protection supplements and anti-inflammatories have been shown to have a positive effect with long-term therapy.

The elbow dysplasia surgery

Judging by the severity of elbow dysplasia, surgical intervention is particularly useful in OCD and IPA. In FCP, on the other hand, the degree. The effects of the surgery will be determined in more detail.

In surgery, the damaged cusp is either removed or screwed on. If OCD is diagnosed, a replacement cartilage can be inserted through a minimally invasive surgery. While this mimics the original, it is not a completely perfect replacement. Dogs with a FCP often lame only temporarily. At irregular intervals. If they should be operated on, then arthroscopy of the joint is performed. Exposed cartilage and bone fragments are removed, thereby inhibiting inflammation.

After surgical treatment, the dog is prescribed physiotherapy, as well as anti-inflammatories and cartilage protection preparations. You support the recovery process. Promise improvement (not cure) in the long run.

vetevo conclusion

Elbow dysplasia is usually discovered in young male dogs that are in the growth phase. Due to a genetic predisposition, high-protein feeding or obesity, ED develops before the age of 10. Month.

If you notice signs such as reluctance to move, misalignment of the front legs or swelling of the joint, then the disease may be responsible for it.

The different forms and severity can only be determined by a veterinarian. This then determines the best treatment for your dog, with or without surgery.

Elbow dysplasia is not curable, but physical therapy and anti-inflammatories, for example, can be used for long-term therapy. As a result, your four-legged friend has considerably fewer restrictions, his pain is reduced and his quality of life is improved.

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