Elbow Dysplasia and Osteochondrosis Dissecans

Elbow dysplasia (ED) and osteochondrosis dissecans (OCD) are very much alike and can be related. In fact, if OCD occurs along with ED, the OCD is considered hereditary.

Elbow Dysplasia

Elbow dysplasia is a hereditary disease in which the dog's elbow joints are malformed. Like hip dysplasia, no amount of nutrition or supplements can prevent it. Dogs with elbow dysplasia may walk or stand “out at the elbows.” All dogs with elbow dysplasia have osteoarthritis. It is very important to make sure your rottweiler's parents are OFA-certified and cleared of elbow dysplasia.

Between 1974 and 2002, breeders and owners registered 7,293 rottweilers with the OFA for elbow dysplasia. Out of these dogs, OFA diagnosed a staggering 41.8 percent as dysplastic, making this the second worst breed for elbow dysplasia (second only to chows).

The elbow dysplasia certification is not as common as the hip dysplasia, possibly because breeders may be unaware of the need to certify their dogs. What's more, the OFA registry is entirely voluntary, meaning that breeders and owners do not have to register a dysplastic dog.

Osteochondrosis Dissecans

OCD is a condition in which the cartilage thickens in joint areas. This thickened cartilage is more prone to damage and may tear and form a flap or rejoin to the bone. OCD may appear in several joints or only one. If your rottweiler has this condition, he may develop a limp after exercising, suggesting that perhaps he has sustained an injury. However, OCD will cause persistent lameness. You may feel the joint pop or crackle as you examine it. Its onset is usually between four and eight months of age.

If your rottie is diagnosed with OCD, your veterinarian may recommend that you rest your dog for several weeks. Some dogs require surgery to remove the lesions or any loose cartilage. OCD may be hereditary, so dogs with this disease should not be bred.

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