Osteochondritis dissecans, abbreviated as obsessive-compulsive disorder, is an orthopedic disorder in dogs. It usually affects the shoulder joints in young, large dogs, but can also affect the hips, knees, and hocks.
What is osteochondritis dissecans?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder in dogs occurs when the bones of the joints do not develop properly. In growing puppies, bones form when calcium deposits into the cartilage. This process is called ossification.
Dogs develop osteochondrosis when some articular cartilage fails to develop into bone. The cartilage may become abnormally thickened, and some cells may die, leaving a misshapen joint. Movement of the affected joint can cause the cartilage to break or split, turning it into a flap of cartilage at the joint. This flap can affect joint function and cause pain during movement. Once a flap of cartilage develops in the joint, the condition is called osteochondritis dissecans. The flap may even separate from the bone and get stuck in part of the joint. Free flaps are called “joint mice”.
Although OCD can technically affect any joint, it is most common in the shoulder joint. This condition is also sometimes seen on the elbows, knees, hips, and hocks (ankles). OCD tends to affect large and giant breeds and usually begins when the dog is not yet fully grown.
Signs of osteochondritis dissecans in dogs
Signs of OCD in dogs usually begin between 4 and 8 months of age, but this can vary depending on how fast the affected dog grows. The main symptom of OCD in dogs is lameness or lameness. This lameness usually gets worse after exercise and sometimes after prolonged rest. Signs tend to start gradually and get worse over time. Symptoms may temporarily improve after exercise restriction. Multiple joints may be affected at the same time.
Causes of osteochondritis dissecans in dogs
Osteochondrosis and OCD in dogs are considered genetic disorders. Large and giant dogs are most commonly affected. Not all dogs with a genetic predisposition will develop OCD. Although any dog can be affected by OCD, certain breeds are known to be susceptible to OCD.
Other factors may contribute to the development of OCD. Diet and exercise both play an important role.
A diet high in calories and nutrients such as calcium and phosphorus may cause OCD in puppies. Too many nutrients or supplements can lead to nutritional imbalances that make puppies grow too quickly, potentially leading to OCD.
Too much exercise can worsen osteochondrosis and cause it to develop into obsessive-compulsive disorder. Overuse of the affected joint can greatly worsen symptoms. Joints may become unstable and osteoarthritis may even begin to develop.
Osteochondritis dissecans treatment in dogs
Treatment for dog OCD can be divided into two categories: Conservative and surgical.
Conservative treatment includes pain management, exercise restriction, and possible dietary modification. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDS, are most commonly used to relieve pain. Depending on the situation, additional pain relievers may be added.
Exercise should be limited to short-distance, leash urination and bowel movements. Dogs will need to rest in a crate or small room most of the time.
Your veterinarian may recommend dietary changes based on the food you are currently feeding your dog. Nutritional supplements may be helpful in some cases, but you should rely on your veterinarian’s expertise before trying them.
Surgery is the treatment of choice when conservative approaches are unsuccessful. Surgery may even be the first recommendation in cases where the dog has severe symptoms.
During OCD surgery in dogs, the veterinarian will remove the cartilage flap and any other affected cartilage around the bone. This can be done through traditional open surgery or arthroscopy, a less invasive procedure done using a special scope and camera that is accessed through a tiny incision in the skin.
How to prevent osteochondritis dissecans in dogs
Because OCD is often hereditary, dogs with this disorder should never be bred. Dogs related to affected dogs (siblings, parents and offspring) should also not be kept. Responsible dog breeders conduct orthopaedic screening tests on at-risk breeds before breeding. This reduces the risk of passing osteochondrosis and obsessive-compulsive disorder genes.
Exercise is important for puppies, but make sure you don’t over-exercise your growing puppy. Try to keep your puppy away from strenuous activities like running or hiking.
Avoid overfeeding puppies, especially large and giant breeds. If you have a large or giant breed, ask your veterinarian to recommend some dog food formulas. Many companies have specially formulated diets for large puppies.