Diseases & Ailments

Osteochondritis and Patellar Luxation: Two hip problems puppy owners should look for

Hip dysplasia is typically the first concern of bone problems in growing puppies but there are two other bone issues that your pup may have to deal with. They are called Osteochondritis (OCD) and Patellar Luxation.

Osteochondritis (OCD)

This is a common joint problem in growing puppies of larger breeds. It typically affects the same breeds that are prone to hip dysplasia. OCD is primarily a disease of growing cartilage. It develops due to reduced blood supply to a localized area of cartilage. The cartilage fails to mineralize (become bone) and the piece of cartilage that separates from the surrounding bone, causing pain and lameness.

While any joint can be affected with OCD, those most commonly involved include the shoulder, elbow, knee, and ankle. Joint supplements, herbs and homeopathics can help control pain and nourish the normal cartilage and joint structures, but ultimately surgery is needed to remove the malformed and detached piece of cartilage from the affected joints.

Patellar Luxation

So far we’ve talked about bone and joint problems in puppies of larger breeds, but one particular problem that most commonly affects smaller breeds is congenital (present at birth) patellar luxation. Breeds that typically suffer from this malady include poodles, Pomeranians, Maltese, Yorkshire terriers, and chihuahuas.

The patella is the technical term for the kneecap. In patellar luxation, the patella dislocates (luxates) when the knee joint is flexed and extended. As the joint moves, the patella usually pops right back into place, never bothering the dog or causing lameness.

The good news about patellar luxation is that it rarely ever causes the dog a problem, so treatment isn’t usually needed. Often, people with these dogs don’t even know there’s a problem. A good veterinarian should diagnose patella luxation during annual physical examinations and point it out to the client (who is probably unaware of the issue to begin with).

In some cases treatment will be required. The current recommendation is to surgically stabilize the patella via one of several surgical techniques. Surgery is only necessary for those dogs in which the patella does not slide back into place and causes persistent lameness.

Following surgery, a good joint supplement containing glucosamine, chondroitin, hyaluronic acid, or perna mussels is important to minimize the chance of the dog developing arthritis in the future.

Just like children, puppies can experience growing pains as they get bigger. In young dogs, however, the problem can sometimes be more serious than a few aches and pains. Being aware of potential bone and joint issues, having your puppy screened for these conditions, and taking steps to help minimize them is your best defense.