How do I know if my dog has OCD?
Most dogs with OCD start to show clinical signs before they are one-year-old, although occasionally (particularly with shoulder OCD) signs may present when your dog is older. The clinical signs are variable and depend on the joint affected and the size of the cartilage defect. The most common signs include lameness, stiffness, joint pain or swelling, reluctance to exercise or play, or general depression.
OCD is typically diagnosed following a multimodal evaluation process. Firstly your dog will be examined by one of our orthopaedic clinicians. Following this, your dog will be admitted to the hospital to allow radiographs of the affected joints under sedation or general anaesthesia. Because OCD can occur at the same time as other developmental orthopaedic diseases (such as certain manifestations of elbow dysplasia), some dogs may require additional diagnostic imaging such as CT or MRI which will be performed by our advanced diagnostic imaging team. Your dog will receive one-to-one nursing care throughout the process by one of our nurses from the prep nursing team who are all highly trained and experienced in anaesthesia and sedation. Following diagnostic imaging, your dog may require surgery to allow arthroscopy (keyhole surgery) to be performed on the affected joint.
As soon as OCD starts to develop, osteoarthritis (inflammation of the joint and associated bones) immediately starts to develop. Once present, osteoarthritis cannot be cured but can be effectively managed in most patients.
Various treatment options are available for shoulder OCD. The best treatment option for each dog can only be recommended following thorough clinical, radiographic and arthroscopic assessment. Non-surgical management is occasionally appropriate for dogs with small cartilage defects and minimal discomfort, however, the majority of dogs are treated surgically. The following options are available:
If this disease was picked up on routine X-rays and no limping or pain is evident, then no treatment save nutritional supplements for long-term support of the cartilage (such as glucosamine) is necessary. Such supplements are now considered routine for all affected OC patients, regardless of severity.
Osteochondrosis of the shoulder and elbow joints is seen in a wide variety of dogs, though most often in large and giant breed dogs.
 Hanna FY. Lumbosacral osteochondrosis: radiological features and surgical management in 34 dogs. J Sm Anim Pract 42: 272, 2001
Pups between the ages of 4 to 12 months are our typical patients, with males overrepresented by a two to one margin. Though one joint is usually more diseased than the other, both sides may be involved in 20% to 80% of shoulder osteochondrosis patients. In the case of the elbow form of osteochondrosis, 20% to 50% of affected dogs have bilateral disease.
Osteochondrosis of the shoulder and elbow occurs primarily in large and giant breed dogs, though smaller breeds may occasionally be affected as well. The rare feline may also be diagnosed with it. The cause is as yet poorly understood, but genetics, rapid growth, high planes of nutrition (protein and fat-rich diets), hard surfaces and excess dietary calcium have all been associated with it.
Which breeds of dogs are likely to be affected by this condition?
This is a developmental disease that occurs in rapidly growing large breed dogs typically between 6 and 9 months of age and tends to occur more often in male dogs. The cause of OCD is unknown.
However, this disease is more common in dogs receiving too much energy and calcium in the diet. Other factors may also include genetics, rapid growth, trauma, lack of blood flow, and hormonal factors.
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