When a puppy or young dog moves in, it is generally assumed that the new four-legged family member is fit and healthy. Because what diseases – and especially joint diseases – should get such a young dog in the first years of life already.
But far from it. There are joint diseases that occur especially in the first months of life of the young dog. This includes OCD in the young dog. It usually occurs between 4 and 8 months of age. So then, when you as a dog owner actually think that you spend a carefree time with your dog and he is bursting with health.
In OCD, the joints that are particularly stressed and used are always affected. In the main, OCD occurs in the shoulder joint of the young dog. But the knee, elbow and ankle can also be affected. Since OCD in the young dog most often occurs in the shoulder, let’s first take a closer look at the anatomy of the shoulder joint.
What is the composition of the shoulder joint? OCD in the young dog
The shoulder joint consists of the shoulder blade and the upper arm. In the dog, the shoulder blades rest laterally against the chest wall. In contrast to humans, in our dog they are connected to the rib cage only by large muscle cords. The scapula has a slightly triangular shape and is a flat bone. Its tip is angled downward. You can feel the edges of the shoulder blade well. The downward pointing tip forms a socket. The head of the humerus fits into this. The shoulder blade and upper arm thus form a so-called ball and socket joint.
Extra knowledge: a ball-and-socket joint is formed from a cup-shaped socket that encloses a spherical joint head.
In the shoulder joint and also externally, there are tight ligaments that only allow flexion and extension of the joint. Movement to the left and right, on the other hand, is only minimally possible.
The development of OCD in the young dog
In puppies and young dogs, the skeleton is still developing. It does not consist of bone throughout, but still consists of soft cartilage tissue.
In the course of growth, the cartilage cells are then gradually replaced by bone cells. This leads to ossification and strengthening of the skeleton. At the same time, it also ensures the nutrition and oxygen supply of bone and cartilage cells. During growth, there are various triggers that lead to disturbances in ossification.
These triggers have in common that they cause the cartilage to increase irregularly in thickness. As a result, however, the underlying cartilage and bone mass is no longer sufficiently supplied. This results in the death of the cells.
If a greater stress then occurs, the cartilage tears. Now joint fluid penetrates into the gap created. This prevents the chipped cartilage fragment from healing again. It now floats freely in the joint fluid. During movement, it triggers pain and joint arthrosis develops. Such a free piece of cartilage is called corpora libre.
The triggers for OCD
There are several triggers for OCD. On the one hand, a genetic predisposition is possible. Excessive activity as well as obesity in young dogs also favor the development of OCD. But feeding can also be a trigger. This can result in too rapid growth due to feed that is too high in energy. In addition, excessive administration of minerals and vitamins promotes OCD. But an accident or fall as a cause are also possible.
Are there dogs that are particularly often affected?
As just mentioned, there are breeds that have a genetic predisposition. These include, for example, the German Shepherd, Golden Retriever and Great Dane. However, breeds such as Rottweilers, Labradors and Bernese Mountain Dogs can also be affected. All breeds have in common that they can reach a weight of 25kg and more as adult dogs. However, males are more often affected than females.
What are the consequences? OCD in the young dog
OCD triggers a vicious cycle. The chipped cartilage fragment lays the foundation for osteoarthritis. This is progressing further and further. At the same time, the movement of the shoulder is painful and restricted. The affected dog continues to lose muscle. This results in relieving postures to avoid pain, which in turn leads to overload in other areas of the body. However, as a result of the sparing, the osteoarthritis continues to progress, leading to increasingly severe movement restrictions and pain.
What are the symptoms for OCD?
- The first symptoms usually appear between the 4th and 8th month of life. An affected dog is usually lame after exertion.
- The affected barrel is pressed outward and the upper arm is pressed as close to the body as possible.
- You can feel that the shoulder joint is heated and swollen.
- The dog avoids bending and stretching the barrel, because it is painful.
- As a result, the stride length is also shortened and the mobility of the joint is limited.
- Stress from jumps, for example, affected dogs avoid on their own.
- The musculature is weaker than on the other front leg.
How is OCD diagnosed?
Based on the classic symptoms that appear in the young dog age, the first clues for the diagnosis arise. An imaging procedure such as an X-ray can then be used to visualize the OCD.
The treatment of OCD in the young dog
If it is mild OCD without free cartilage particles, conservative therapy can be tried. In detail, this means the administration of anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving drugs. Accompanying the dog must be strictly on a short leash for a long period of time. Jumps, races, etc. are absolutely taboo. If there are already detached cartilage particles, surgical removal of these is usually unavoidable.
In this case, it really has to be said that the sooner the Corpora Libre are removed, the lesser the extent of osteoarthritis. Early surgery really makes sense at this point, even though I am generally a friend of avoiding surgical intervention if possible and exhausting all other means.
Extra tip: Take precautions with a dog surgery insurance from HanseMerkur!
By the way, at this point I can recommend you that a surgery insurance for your dog is absolutely worthwhile even at the age of a young dog. HanseMerkur has developed a brand new insurance policy to support you in such situations. Because the moment your beloved four-legged friend gets such a diagnosis, you have 1000 things on your mind. Often also the finances, since surgical intervention is usually associated with high costs. With a corresponding OP insurance, HanseMerkur at least takes away this worry and you can concentrate 100% on your dog and his health. HanseMerkur has summarized the corresponding conditions and rates of a dog surgery insurance for you here: https://www.hansemerkur.de/hunde-op-versicherung
Physiotherapy is indispensable for OCD in a young dog
Following the removal of the cartilage particles, appropriate physiotherapy is important for the dog. Normal movements should be trained so that improper movements do not manifest themselves through the lameness and accompany the dog throughout his life. At the same time, physiotherapy promotes mobility, trains the muscles, reduces pain and relieves tension through gentle holding. Even if surgical removal of the cartilage fragments is avoided in mild OCD, physiotherapeutic treatment should be followed.
Is it possible to avoid OCD in a young dog?
If the dog is genetically predisposed, then it is hardly possible to avoid OCD. However, with early diagnosis and subsequent treatment, it is possible to minimize the extent of the disease.
For puppies and young dogs, continue to ensure adequate exercise. Your young dog may try out, romp and run. But all in a healthy measure. Make sure he doesn’t overexert himself. Things like running on a bike is taboo for young dogs before growth is complete. Jumps, abrupt stops and tight turns should be avoided. Age-appropriate feeding is also important. The dog should not be fed too high energy diet and also the weight of your dog should be in the normal range. OCD in the young dog OCD in the young dog OCD in the young dog OCD in the young dog