Osteochondritis Dissecans in dogs

Osteochondritis Dissecans in dogs

What is Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD)?

Osteochondritis dissecans, commonly abbreviated OCD, is a condition in dogs where the immature articular cartilage has separated from the underlying bone. This is caused by osteochondrosis. Cracks in the cartilage of a weight baring surface can go on all the way down to the soft bone beneath the cartilage, and eventually a part of the joint cartilage can separate from the underlying structure. The resulting “flap” can be up to an inch across, but it can also be no bigger than a quarter of an inch. The flap will irritate the joint and cause pain for the dog. The joint will often become inflamed, and healing attempts can lead to scar tissue formation. Calcium deposits can also develop.  

Reasons behind Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD)

Many factors can contribute to Osteochondritis dissecans, including genetic disposition, body size and weight, diet, and trauma.

Symptoms of Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) in dogs

The first symptoms of Osteochondritis dissecans normally show up when the dog is 6-9 months of age, since this is a major growth phase in the life of a pup. Osteochondritis dissecans can affect the shoulder, ankle or elbow joint. The first symptom of OCD is often an intermittent limp in one of the front legs of the dog. An affected puppy can also start holding its front leg out, or point its toes in an abnormal direction (more away from the midline). It is important to keep in mind that even a puppy that runs around, jumps and plays can be suffering from Osteochondritis dissecans. In many cases, you can see that the puppy becomes aware of the pain as soon as it slows down a bit. A puppy suffering from Osteochondritis dissecans will often be very careful not to hurt its painful leg when laying down.  

Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) treatment for dogs

Several different treatments are available for dogs with Osteochondritis dissecans. One of the most commonly used once is to keep the activity level of the dog down to an absolute minimum for several weeks. In many cases, you need to confine your dog to a pen to make sure that it will not run or walk around in the house. If a dog is forced to rest for at least 4-10 weeks, the humeral head have a greater chance of healing. This method works in about 60% of all affected dogs, but it requires a patient and stringent dog owner that is willing to make sure that the dog stays inactive for as long as it takes. 

Another available Osteochondritis dissecans treatment for dogs is surgery. This only requires two weeks of rest, but will on the other hand come will all the risks associated with surgery and sedation. During this procedure, the surgeon will make an incision to reach the affected joint. In most cases, the cartilage flap can be removed using a forceps. It is also possible to scrape the bed where the flap was located to induce quicker healing. After two weeks, you can gradually allow your dog to resume its normal activity level.

Skeletal and muscular disorders in dogs: (click for more info)
Canine hip dysplasia
Congenital vertebral anomalies in dogs
Craniomandibular osteopathy in dogs
Elbow dysplasia in dogs
Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy in dogs
Hypertrophic Osteopathy in dogs
Legg-Calvé-Perthes syndrome in dogs
Luxating patella in dogs
Masticatory muscle myositis in dogs
Masticatory Muscle Myositis (MMM) and Extraocular Myositis (EOM) in dogs
Osteoarthritis in dogs
Osteochondritis Dissecans in dogs
Panosteitis in dogs
Spondylosis in dogs