31 Oct

What is dyschondroplasia in dogs?

Every pet parent dreams of their pet having a healthy and happy life. Unfortunately, unforeseen circumstances and issues can prevent themselves, which is why it is important to be informed & prepared. Dyschondroplasia is a joint disorder, which commonly affects the elbow and shoulder joints in dogs. Usually observed in giant or larger dog breeds, this condition has multiple causes, the root believed to be the faster rate of growth experienced by larger dog breeds. 

What is Dyschondroplasia?

Dyschondroplasia is a condition which affects the bones and cartilage of a puppy. In this condition, newly-developing cartilage fails to turn into bone and bone tissue properly, leading to cartilage retention which can subsequently cause articular collapse. Due to an unnatural development of cartilage, a cartilaginous flap can develop and break, leading to pain and lameness if it lodges itself in between the joints. Dyschondroplasia is not an instant ailment; it is a condition which gradually affects a dog’s joints. 

Commonly observable symptoms of dyschondroplasia include the following: 

  • Lethargy
  • Limping 
  • Difficulty sitting or standing
  • Lameness on one leg 
  • Decrease in muscle tissue due to poor blood circulation 
  • Inability to flex a joint
  • Stiffness in the joint
  • Pain and swelling around a joint
  • Inability to climb, jump or run
  • Inability to put weight on the joint
  • Inability to exercise

Types of Dyschondroplasias

Dyschondroplasia typically has four forms: 

  • Shoulder Dyschondroplasia
  • Elbow Dyschondroplasia
  • Stifle Dyschondroplasia
  • Hock Dyschondroplasia

Causes of Dyschondroplasia

This condition is caused due to the improper ossification of developing cartilage, which may be caused due to numerous reasons. A few of these are as follows: 

  • Breed and genetics: The disease is hereditary, making the respective breed’s genetics important. 
  • Age: Dyschondroplasia most commonly affects larger breeds of dog, usually during their growing stages at 6-9 months of age. 
  • Growth rate: A dog exhibiting rapid growth during their puppy phase have a higher chance of being diagnosed with this condition. 
  • Trauma: Trauma or injury to the cartilage and bones of a joint during the developmental phase can pose a problem further down the line. 
  • Malnutrition: a lack of nutrition can prevent the proper ossification of cartilage, resulting in dyschondroplasia.
  • Sex: This condition affects male dogs more often than female dogs.

Diagnosing Dyschondroplasia

If your dog ever exhibits one or more symptoms of dyschondroplasia, immediately consult your veterinarian. A vet can conduct a thorough examination of your pup, inspecting the movement of the afflicted joint and pinpointing the issue. Once the basic extension, flexibility, and posture of your pet are evaluated, your vet will then inspect the muscle and joint and check for swelling. 

Depending on the severity of the condition, your vet will recommend getting an x-rat and CT scan done, to inspect the damaged area and evaluate its severity. Both legs may be inspected, as dyschondroplasia can be less severe but still present, if one side is already demonstrating lameness. 

Treating Dyschondroplasia

Unfortunately, treating dyschondroplasia requires surgery. A surgical procedure for the treatment of it usually involves removing the pieces of cartilage which have become lodged within the joint and are causing your pup distress.  An alternative procedure involves modifying the elbow joint and adjusting its position, in order to reduce the pressure being put on the bone. 

Recovery and Rehabilitation

The recovery and subsequent rehabilitation period for varies from pup to pup. As dyschondroplasia affects the elbow and shoulder joints, their lifestyle will have to adjust accordingly. Make sure to pay careful attention to your pup’s diet, exercise routine, and their weight, as overexercising their joints or overfeeding them can cause undue strain on their still-healing shoulders and elbows.

Your vet can prescribe an appropriate exercise routine and diet for your recovering pup post-surgery. Walks may have to be suspended for the duration of their recovery for roughly 3-7 weeks, with short, 10-minute long walks possible once their condition improves. Dogs with a mind affliction have a faster recovery time, but those with more serious issues in their elbows and shoulders should go easy on intense physical exertion.

Once fully recovered, most dogs can return to their daily routines, with occasional stiffness to be expected with the progression of time. For a pup with a history of dyschondroplasia, their diet and exercise should be given extra attention, during the recovery period itself and beyond it as well. 






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