What is osteochondrosis?

Osteochondrosis is a local disorder in bone formation and cartilage growth that leads to damage in the form of unevenness in the cartilage. It causes pain and lameness. The elbow joints are usually affected, but can also occur in the hip and knee joints.

Symptoms in dogs with osteochondrosis

Symptoms of varying degrees from one or more joints.

  • Decreased mobility in the joint
  • The joint may feel warm
  • Variable lameness
  • Often worse after rest
  • Swollen joints
  • Pain on palpation (when you physically examine them)

How is osteochondrosis diagnosed?

The diagnosis is made with the help of an orthopaedic examination, such as x-ray and/or CT scan, and sometimes via arthroscopy. Most often, it is clearly visible on an x-ray if a dog has suffered from osteochondrosis, but in the early stages it may not appear on an x-ray image. The arthrosis caused by osteochondrosis is the first thing you see on an x-ray. 

A CT scan can then give a better picture of the joint.

Treatment of osteochondrosis

Osteochondrosis can be treated in different ways depending on which joint is affected. Sometimes conservative treatment is enough, but often treatment is done via arthroscopy. The prognosis for osteochondrosis surgery is usually good. An early diagnosis and treatment provides a better prognosis for a growing dog.

Osteochondrosis in older dogs

Osteochondrosis can also occur in older dogs that have been x-rayed and have not previously shown any symptoms. It may be because an "old" osteochondrosis has started again. A piece of cartilage that previously came off but settled down well can come off.

Even in older dogs, it is important that the loose piece of bone is removed. Then the dog can return to a relatively normal life, even if the osteoarthritis remains.

A balanced diet

It is important to feed your dog a well-balanced food that is suitable for the breed. The amount of feed, nutritional content and the dog's growth rate can affect the onset of osteochondrosis. A feed that is too high in energy can cause them to grow too rapidly.