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Canine Elbow Dysplasia Treatments

How to Help Your Dog’s Joint Condition

By Meredith Alling. January 17, 2014 | See Comments

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Elbow dysplasia can be quite painful and hinder your dog from being as active as they once were. Here are ways to treat your dog's elbow dysplasia to get them back to running and chasing after squirrels.

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If your dog is suffering from elbow dysplasia, you should get them help as soon as possible. This debilitating condition is caused by improper development of the elbow joint, and it can result in pain, inflammation, and even loss of mobility.

You may see your dog struggling when they try to walk, exercise, or get up from sitting or lying down. You may see them tiring easily, or losing interest in their regular activities. If you are seeing any of these symptoms, it means that your dog is hurting, and it’s time to seek treatment.

Diagnosis and Treatment Options

Treatment for canine elbow dysplasia is personalized, and will depend on your dog’s age, the degree of their pain, and the severity of the joint defect.

Your veterinarian will diagnose your dog’s condition through a physical exam and x-rays that will display joint and bone abnormalities. In some cases, a CT scan may also be required.

Once your dog’s condition has been evaluated, your veterinarian will determine the course of treatment. Common treatment options include:

  • Surgery: Arthroscopic surgery -- a procedure that uses a tube, small tools, and a camera -- is a common treatment for young dogs or those whose have a bad quality of life as a result of their condition. For some growing puppies, surgery can serve as an intervention to correct the defect while development is still taking place.

  • Rehabilitation Therapies: Many dogs with elbow dysplasia respond well to therapies that are designed to improve joint function. Massages, swim therapy, underwater treadmills, and range-of-motion exercises can all promote mobility while preventing further joint deterioration.

  • Anti-Inflammatory Medications and Shots: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and shots that reduce pain are often prescribed to dogs with elbow dysplasia. Commonly prescribed medications include Rimadyl, Deramaxx, and EtoGesic.

  • Supplements: Supplements that lubricate the joints and reduce inflammation -- such as glucosamine, chondroitin, and fatty acids -- can all be beneficial.

  • Healthy Exercise: Some pet parents may think that they need to avoid exercise because it is causing their dog pain, but the fact is that a dog’s elbow dysplasia can get worse if their muscles atrophy or if they put on weight. Weight control is important so that your dog is not placing too much pressure on already stressed joints. Ask your veterinarian to recommend an exercise routine that is appropriate for your dog.

Elbow Dysplasia Prognosis

Many dogs respond well to surgery, therapies, or medications and will go on to live normal, active lives. The prognosis will ultimately depend on your dog’s age, their overall health, and the severity of the joint defect.

Always contact your veterinarian at the first sign that something is wrong. A joint problem that is left alone can only get worse.

More on Dog Joint Health

8 Ways to Treat Dog Joint Pain
Dealing with Patellar Luxation in Dogs
Arhtritis Medication for Dogs and Cats

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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Elbow Dysplasia at a glance

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  • 1Treatment for elbow dysplasia will depend on your dog’s age and the severity of their condition and pain
  • 2Common treatments include surgery, therapies, drugs, shots, supplements, and healthy exercise
  • 3Always contact your veterinarian at the first sign that your dog is suffering from elbow dysplasia