Osteochondrosis is a condition of abnormal cartilage development that results in early osteoarthritis in canine joints.
OCD in dogs actually refers to the loose piece or flap of cartilage that forms in the joint. Osteochondrosis usually occurs early in a dog’s life and can affect shoulders, stifles, hocks, and elbows. Generally this condition affects mostly larger dogs, and breeds such as Great Danes, Newfoundlands, English Sheepdogs, Labradors, and Irish Setters are predisposed to the condition.
Osteochondrosis begins with a failure of bone formation from the cartilage precursor of the humeral head. This failure leads to abnormal cartilage thickening and the increased cartilage thickness may result in underdeveloped cells within the cartilage. The result is the creation of a cleft where the bone meets the cartilage. Subsequently, normal activity may cause fissures in the cartilage that eventually communicate with the joint, forming a cartilage flap. This creates joint inflammation and contributes to early onset of degenerative joint disease.
Primarily affects large or giant breed dogs, males more often than females and occasionally small breed dogs and cats, or young and fast growing animals which causes bone growth abnormality resulting in pieces of the cartilage becoming loose around the joints.
- Lameness in the affected limb
- Shortened forelimb stride
- Reluctance to flex or extend the joint
The radiograph on the left indicates an OCD lesion in the shoulder. The radiograph in the right is a healthy shoulder.
The surgical procedure for correction of OCD in dogs involves the removal of cartilage flaps or free cartilage defects. Following this procedure, the continued use of a joint supplement is crucial to recovery and long-term joint health.