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OCD in dogs: what to do about joint damage?


Pain in the joints, inflammation and lameness are just a few symptoms of OCD in dogs - a bone growth disorder, which can cause serious damage to the four-legged friends If you recognize the first OCD symptoms in your puppy, then you should definitely go to the vet - Image: Shutterstock / Sonsedska Yuliia

, How to track the course of the disease Osteochondrosis dissecanscan influence in part and what forms of therapy are available here.

OCD in dogs can have several causes, the first symptoms of degenerative disorder in cartilage formation can already be seen in puppy age when the skeleton grows quickly and has to endure heavy loads. There are different treatment methods with which the joint damage can be treated.

What is osteochondrosis dissecans for a disease?

If a dog suffers from OCD, it usually affects the large joints, such as the elbows, shoulders, ankles or knees. The cause of this disease is an impaired bone growth in precisely these areas. A puppy's skeleton does not consist entirely of bone, but of soft cartilage tissue that ossifies over time. This strengthens the skeleton and enables optimal oxygenation.

Unlike bone, cartilage is not supplied with blood and must be supplied by the surrounding tissue. OCD prevents ossification of the cartilage during growth. The skeleton remains soft and the constantly growing cartilage can no longer be optimally cared for. The undersupplied parts can die. Often, the healthy tissue repels the dead, with the result that parts of the articular cartilage split off and swim in the joint as so-called "joint mice". This leads to painful inflammation.

Noticeable symptoms and diagnosis

Your dog can show the first symptoms of OCD at the age of 4 to 7 months. However, the diagnosis is usually made between the 6th and 8th month. One of the main symptoms is the sudden lameness of your four-legged friend. If his gait is unclean or if he has little desire for movement and possibly even obvious pain when walking, he avoids some movements completely and if his joints are swollen, this can be an indication of a possible OCD disease. An exact diagnosis can only be made by the veterinarian using imaging methods such as an X-ray examination or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Alternatively, diagnosis can also be made using arthroscopy (joint mirroring).

Causes and prevention of OCD in dogs

On the one hand, hereditary factors are the cause of OCD in dogs, on the other hand, dog owners can influence the formation of joint damage in part through their behavior. In order to prevent OCD, it is particularly important that you take care of the correct nutrition of your four-legged friend. If you give too much energy-rich food, your puppy grows too quickly and becomes too heavy for the skeleton that is being built up. This places too much strain on the joints. Too much calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D are not healthy either. There is an increased amount of calcitonin in the blood, which in turn negatively affects the maturation of the cartilage cells.

So that symptoms of OCD do not even appear in your dog, you should pay more attention to his playing behavior. Young dogs in particular tend to rage a lot. This can cause cracks or breaks in the cartilage tissue. Joints already have to deal with enormous forces during normal movement. If the joints are additionally overloaded, for example through long, wild play with abrupt changes of direction and rapid acceleration, these forces and their effects are multiplied accordingly. In the growth phase, which lasts until the 12th month of life, it is therefore advisable not to overwhelm your dog.

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Which breeds are particularly vulnerable?

Experience has shown that particularly large breeds of dogs are often affected by OCD and its symptoms. Above all, these include:

• German Mastiff
• German shepherd dog
• Belgian shepherd
• Newfoundland
• Rottweiler
• German boxer
• Labrador retriever
• Golden retriever

Although it is not that common, small dogs can also develop OCD.

This is how OCD can be treated

There are basically two ways to treat OCD in dogs, conservative and surgical treatment. Before deciding on a suitable method, the veterinarian must know the general condition, age and extent of cartilage or joint damage. If the symptoms are not yet so pronounced, conservative therapy is recommended. An attempt is made to immobilize the affected joint completely for at least three months so that the existing cracks can heal. There is also a strict diet to avoid over-supply with minerals and energy.

Pain relievers improve the quality of life of your dog, but they often stand in the way of immobilization because it wants to move without pain. Furthermore, the treating doctor usually gives anti-inflammatory medication and prescribes physiotherapy or dog physiotherapy. This loosens the often cramped muscle tissue around the diseased joint.

Surgical therapy is used for severe symptoms. The doctor opens the joint capsule to remove small broken cartilage particles and mechanically smooth cracks in the cartilage. After the procedure, the dog must also be kept as calm as possible. For about three months, he may only move in a reduced manner. This is followed by slow muscle building through targeted movement. Treatment, no matter what, is not a guarantee that the OCD will not come back or affect another joint.


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