Osteochondritis Dissecans in Dogs

Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD) in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost
7 Veterinary Answers

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Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD) in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Prepare for unexpected vet bills

What are Osteochondritis Dissecans?

Ossification (the process of bone formation) can be altered in all canines but particularly in young large to giant breed dogs, especially when their growth is occurring rapidly. Many of the affected dogs will begin to show signs as early as the age of three months. When a fragment of cartilage peels away from the bone and remains lodged within the joint, damage can result. Early treatment is necessary, before degenerative changes in the joint (osteoarthritis) take place.

When developing cartilage experiences varying rates of maturation, some areas of the cartilage become thickened, weak, and prone to injury. As a result of the abnormal growth, cartilage flaps form in the joints, eventually becoming separated and lifted from the bone. This will cause inflammation and pain. In veterinary terms, the condition is called Osteochondritis dissecans (OD).

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Osteochondritis Dissecans Average Cost

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Symptoms of Osteochondritis Dissecans in Dogs

Lameness in your pet should always be a concern, especially if your furry family member is of a young age. Take your dog to the veterinary clinic if you see the following symptoms.

  • Your pet is limping
  • The lameness may be evident in just one limb, up to all four
  • There may be stiffness or trouble rising
  • You may notice feel that your dog’s muscle mass is reducing
  • There could be a grinding in the joint
  • There may be pain, and low range of movement as the joint is manipulated and moved
  • The joints could be swollen
  • Your pet may be reluctant to play or exercise, and show a difficulty in doing so when he does participate
  • Your dog could seem depressed
Types

The types of OCD, and the breeds most commonly affected are listed here.

  • OCD of the ankle (hock)
    • Rottweilers
    • Labrador Retrievers
    • Golden Retrievers
  • OCD of the knee
    • Great Danes
    • German Shepherds
    • Labrador Retrievers
    • Golden Retrievers
    • Newfoundlands
  • OCD of the spine (particularly lumbosacral joint)
    • German Shepherds
    • Rottweilers
    • Boxers
    • Male dogs are documented to be more predisposed
  • OCD of the elbow
    • Labrador Retrievers
    • Golden Retrievers
  • OCD of the shoulder
    • Great Danes
    • Irish Wolfhounds
    • Border Collies
    • This condition is more commonly seen in male canines

Other breeds known to be prone are Bernese Mountain Dogs, Chow Chows, Old English Sheepdogs, Standard Poodles, and Mastiffs.

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Causes of Osteochondritis Dissecans in Dogs

Different breeds of dogs appear to be predisposed to different types of OCD. There are many factors that contribute to the cartilage flap formation, and the subsequent fissures and peeling away from the bone within the joint that can occur.

  • The diseased cartilage breaks away from the remaining cartilage
  • Rapid cartilage growth can result in inadequate blood supply during development
  • The blood vessels cannot penetrate the thick cartilage, resulting in lack of proper bone formation in this area
  • The abnormal maturation of cartilage cells affects blood vessel advancement and function
  • Layers of thickened cartilage will not receive adequate nutrients, leading to tissue death and the formation of fissures
  • Inflammation occurs, and the cartilage flap remains in the joint, or becomes unattached and floats away but stays within the joint cavity
  • Overfeeding can lead to excessive weight gain and pressure on the joint
  • Normal pressure on the joint is also a factor in dogs with this problem
  • Nutrition and dietary problems in early formative stages can lead to OCD
  • There can be a hereditary component
  • Hormonal imbalance has been documented in canines with OCD
  • Joint architecture and joint trauma can influence the development of this condition
  • The amount and type of activity your pet partakes in can affect joints and cartilage
  • Trauma from injury, and stress on the joint from weight bearing can have an impact
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Diagnosis of Osteochondritis Dissecans in Dogs

Because osteochondritis dissecans will lead to eventual osteoarthritis, early diagnosis is highly beneficial. If you see your dog exhibiting lameness, visit your veterinarian for a consultation without delay. Be prepared to discuss the medical history of your pet. Your dog may yet be a puppy since this disease is normally seen in large or giant breed canines between the ages of three months and eighteen months. However, older dogs are not immune to OCD.

Your veterinary team will ask questions.

  • What symptoms have you noticed in your pet?
  • How long has he been lame?
  • Is the lameness present all of the time, or are symptoms intermittent?
  • What type of diet are you feeding your canine companion?
  • What is his typical exercise routine?
  • Do you have a history on his parentage?

Radiographs are the most definitive way to diagnose OCD. Through the process of an x-ray which will be done under anesthesia or sedation, the following conditions may be seen.

  • Lesions may be present
  • There will be flat joint surfaces
  • Changes in the bones may be evident
  • The joints could be swollen
  • Bone spurs (bone tissue formed around damaged joints) might be obvious

Further testing could involve computed tomography scan (CT), whereby the bone changes will be more visible under the cartilage. Arthrography will clearly show cartilage flaps. An arthroscopy can identify (and possibly treat) the lesions on the cartilage and joints.

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Treatment of Osteochondritis Dissecans in Dogs

If your furry family member has small cartilage defects and minimal discomfort, non-surgical treatment may be the option. Medication and supplements could provide relief, and allow for a degree of degenerative protection for the joint. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID), exercise restriction, dietary and weight management, and glucosamine can help keep your pet comfortable.

In most cases however, surgery is the best option. The type and extent of the surgical intervention will depend upon the severity of OCD found in your dog at the time of diagnosis, which joint site is involved, and whether the secondary joint disease has been found.

Arthrotomy, which is a technique whereby an opening is created in the joint, and arthroscopy, a surgery that involves flap removal and allows cartilage healing by scar tissue formation, are two common methods undertaken by surgeons to treat this painful condition. It should be noted that there could still be ongoing osteoarthritis development after surgery.

There have been many advances in the treatment protocol for certain types of osteochondritis dissecans. For example, in the case of OCD of the shoulder, grafting of polycarbonate urethane and the use of titanium metal are now a surgical reality for our canine friends. Once your veterinarian has made the diagnosis, she can advise you on the type of surgery recommended, and discuss new and upcoming techniques that may be available.

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Recovery of Osteochondritis Dissecans in Dogs

Following surgery and discharge from the clinic, be prepared to give your pet the care and attention he will need to improve and regain strength. Provide a quiet, peaceful area for the recovery stage. Cage rest will be a requirement for ten days. No exercise is permitted.

Once he is able to be walked, he must be kept on a leash and taken for walks of a short duration each time. Gradually, as your veterinarian advises you, the length of the walk can be extended. Still, exercise will not be allowed for a further period of four to six weeks. Movement is necessary, however, in order for your pet to heal and improve his range of movement. Physical therapy could be recommended.

Medication, in the form of anti-inflammatories and pain relievers, will be given for use after the surgery, and for the times, it may be needed in the future. Glucosamine supplements will be prescribed. It should be noted that calcium supplements are detrimental to pets with OCD.

A nutritionally balanced, low calcium diet will be suggested. The clinic will most likely carry exactly the type of food you will need for your pet in order to properly manage the condition.

The prognosis for recovery from osteochondritis dissecans ranges from fair to good, depending on the severity and location of the condition. Genetic management should be considered, meaning that since this trait is hereditary, breeding your pet would only pass a degenerative disease on to the next generation.

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Osteochondritis Dissecans Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $2,000 - $5,000

Average Cost

$3,000

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Osteochondritis Dissecans Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Jager

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German Shepherd

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9 Months

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Serious severity

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2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Pain
Limping

It has been about 8 weeks after his surgery for OCD in which they cut open the joint capsule and removed a large cartilage flap. He was on rest for about 5-6 weeks with limited activity and was doing well. Since then, we have noticed a limp that has been getting progressively worse and is now so severe he won’t put pressure on it. What could be wrong? I’m very concerned about possible infection.

Dec. 15, 2017

Jager's Owner

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2 Recommendations

If you have started activity, it may be a case of scaling it back; but if you are seeing limping and a general reluctance to use the leg you should return to your Veterinarian for an examination immediately to look for any further articular damage, infection or anything else which would cause problems with walking. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Dec. 15, 2017

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Viper

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Cane Corso

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6 months

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Serious severity

Has Symptoms

The vet recommended that he goes in and remove the flap of cartilage through an incision. He said that because it could be the size of a dime he has to make an incision. I just read that the healing time is longer if he does it that way. Due to the size of what is being removed is that the reason for an incision. Also, do most dogs have a great recovery and live healthy lives after this surgery? I am extremely nervous about his recovery.

Nov. 26, 2017

Viper's Owner


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1 Recommendations

The approach to surgery is down to the Veterinarian performing the surgery as they need to be sure that they will be happy with the end result; whilst it is true that arthroscopy is a less invasive procedure, it is sometimes necessary to open the joint cavity for surgery in certain cases. Generally, with strict rest for a few months after surgery the overall prognosis is favourable. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Nov. 26, 2017

Thank you for your advice. Do you recommend having both shoulders operated at the same time or one at a time?

Nov. 27, 2017

Viper's Owner

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Osteochondritis Dissecans Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $2,000 - $5,000

Average Cost

$3,000

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