Osteochondrosis

Osteochondrosis (OCD) is a painful condition, occurring in the joints of young, growing dogs, causing lameness, often severe. As with Hip Dysplasia, being overweight and excessive, inappropriate exercise appears to play a part, along with a degree of inheritance. It has also been suggested that too much mineral supplementation of the diet of a young puppy, can trigger this condition to develop, and it often occurs following a period of rapid growth.

OCD occurs when the cartilage on the ends of the limb bones fails to ossify (turn to bone), resulting in thickening of the layers of cartilage, which in turn leads to the cartilage dying, due to lack of nutrition, and becoming susceptible to developing lesions or flaps. These are very painful and if untreated can lead to changes within the joint and to degenerative joint disease (arthrosis). It can occur in any of the joints at the ends of the limb bones, i.e. shoulders, elbows, stifles and hocks, though is most commonly seen in Labradors in the shoulder and elbow. As with Hip Dysplasia, x-ray is the only way to detect this problem.

Treatment involves surgical removal of the thickened damaged cartilage, which is generally very effective in relieving the pain, though any arthritic changes, that may have already occurred in the joint, are irreversible.

A scheme has been set up to enable an evaluation of the changes that are evident in the elbow joints of Labradors to be made, and x-rays can be submitted to a panel of experts at the B.V.A., for assessment and are scored on a scale of 0 to 3. Compared to the HD Scoring Scheme, this is still in its infancy, and as more breeders make use of it, more information and better conclusions may be drawn concerning the hereditary nature of this condition.