Animal Care Clinic Tips

Nov 23, 2009 5:20 PM by Bonnie Markoff, DVM, ABVP

Growing Pains

There are a number of bone diseases that effect young, growing dogs. It seems that hardly a week goes by without a limping, 5-month-old puppy crossing my path.

The most common causes of young dog bone and joint pain are elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia, luxating patellas, OCD and panosteitis.

Dysplasia means wrongly formed. Large breed dogs are frequently genetically predisposed to poorly formed hips or elbows. This can lead to transient pain at 4 to 9 months of age, which then subsides and returns as arthritis a few years later.

The patella is the knee cap, and it should stay in a groove above the knee that keeps it centered over the knee. Many small dogs have poorly formed knees which allows the patella to pop to the inside of the knee and put abnormal forces on the joint. Larger dogs tend to have the knee cap pop to the outside with similar painful repercussions.

OCD is a disease of cartilage and most commonly occurs in the shoulder, elbow and hock (ankle) joints. When the smooth cartilage lining the joints breaks loose or is rough, pain ensues. Panosteitis is an inflammatory disease of long bones and is the most like human growing pains.

All of these diseases are diagnosed with a combination of physical exam and radiographs, and sometimes CT scans or special x-ray dye studies. Sometimes surgical intervention is required for treatment and sometimes the dogs simply "grow out" of the disease.

Pain control is almost always warranted.

Animal Care Clinic is proud to have a veterinary surgical specialist visit our hospital when advanced orthopedic procedures are required. We are available M-F 7:30-6, Sat 9-3 and Mondays until 8 p.m.

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