OCD in dogs, also referred to as Osteochondritis dissecans, is a disease of the cartilage of your dog and it can and does affect various joints.
It is often confused with Osteocondrosis, which is an abnormality of your dog’s cartilage development, as well as arthritis.
However, there are two major differences.
The first is that OCD occurs as the result of Osteocondrosis in most cases and the second is that it occurs early in the life of your dog.
This is different than arthritis, which is the result of wear and tear in the joints over a period of years.
There is also a lot of misconception about OCD as some experts consider that once it has developed, it is permanent, while others contend that if it caught early enough, it can be corrected.
However, the key to this disease is to actually identify it correctly and correct it if possible.
OCD in dogs, although it is similar to Osteocondrosis, is considered to be the result or a byproduct of this very serious joint disease.
It is basically described as a flap that has formed as the result of an abnormal cartilage development.
As a result of this flap it causes secondary joint osteoarthritis.
In any joint in your dog’s body, two bones will come together and this allows for movement between them.
When everything is functioning properly, these two bones will meet on an extremely smooth area of cartilage that covers the surfaces and this acts as a cushion.
When the cushion is operating without any flaws, it protects the underlying bone.
However, if there is any type of disturbance or disruption in this process and it affects this smooth surface, the movement of the affected joint will become very painful for your dog.
OCD is best described as a condition where this cartilage has either become damaged or it has grown abnormally.
The result is that instead of it being attached smoothly to the bone, it separates or cracks, and the result is the loose flap that characterizes OCD in dogs.
However, in addition to a loose flap that can form, an entire piece may actually break off which is a condition referred to as joint mice.
This disease can affect several of your dog’s joint including their shoulders, their stifle or their knee joints, their elbow, as well as their hock.
Your dog’s hock is the area that is directly below their knee.
The actual cause of OCD in dogs is considered to be the result of a malfunction and there are several factors that are believed to contribute to this malfunction.
These factors include rapid growth, some type of trauma that leads to the formation of OCD lesions, as well as nutrition.
However, it is also widely held that genetics as well as a hormone imbalance may also be the cause of this very painful disease.
The most common cause is believed to be either a chronic or an acute trauma that has occurred to your dog, and as a result, it leads to lesions.
These lesions than cause an injury to the surface cartilage and may very easily lead to the separation of this cartilage from the bone.
However, it may also be the result of a decrease in the blood supply to this area which in turn leads to the formation of the flap.
It is also widely held in the medical community that this disease may be genetic in nature as there are certain breeds that are much more prone to developing OCD.
There is yet another side of the medical community that believes that nutrition may be the major factor in OCD in dogs.
Osteochondritis dissecans occurs during rapid periods of growth and it is suggested that nutrition that is geared for rapid growth may be the actual underlying cause.
OCD in dogs can affect any breed, but it is much more common in large or giant breeds.
It is also seems to occur much more often in males than in females, primarily because males are generally larger and as a result, place more stress on their joints.
In can show up in older dogs, but it is most prevalent in young dogs between four months to one year of age.
The breeds most commonly affected include Siberian Huskies, Doberman Pincher, Great Danes, and Collies.
It also affects Labrador Retrievers, Newfoundland’s, Rottweiler’s, Bernese Mountains Dogs, Irish Setters, as well as Old English Sheepdogs.
OCD in dogs will show various symptoms, but by far and away the most common will appear in your dog’s shoulders as they will gradually start to become lame.
This lameness will intensify after your dog has exercised but seems to improve as soon as they rest for a period of time.
Some dogs will show very little signs of any lameness, while others can hardly walk in some cases.
If it affects your dog’s shoulder, you will notice a change in their stride.
When this symptom occurs, your dog will take a much shorter forelimb stride which will be very noticeable.
This is due to the fact that your dog is having trouble flexing as well as extending their shoulder joints.
In rare cases, OCD can affect both of your dog’s front limbs and they will extremely reluctant to move at all.
OCD in dogs currently has two forms of treatments; medical or surgical.
Medical treatment is also called conservative treatment, and is generally used if the symptoms as well as the testing process indicate only a mild form of this disease.
It will consist of a very strict resting regime for a period of one to two months, but will also include a very controlled lease walking regiment.
However, any type of vigorous exercise or running will have to be completely eliminated.
Anti-inflammatory medications as well as Rimadyl, which is a pain killer is generally used, as well as glucosamine and chondroitin products.
However, it is extremely important to note that there have been no reported studies or documentation to confirm any type of success with this conservative form of treatment.
If the symptoms are moderate to severe, surgery will have to be done, especially if large lesion shows up in the testing.
The surgery is very simple and straightforward; remove the flap or the joint mouse.
Your dogs affected joint will be opened up, the flap or joint mouse removed, and then it will be monitored very closely. If the shoulder joint is affected, the overall prognosis is considered to be very good.
However, if other joints are affected, the success rate is considered to be guarded at best.
OCD in dogs, contrary to a lot of misconception, certainly does not mean that it will permanently affect your dog.
The key will be to understand the symptoms, catch it early if you have one of the commonly affected breeds, and then have it tested as quickly as you can.