Joint dysplasia in dogs: a weak point in large breeds

The impressive size of the animal is not yet a guarantee of its perfect health, and sometimes, and vice versa, it is the dimensions that are the culprits of certain problems in large-breed dogs. For example, dysplasia is a pathology of the musculoskeletal system, which "loves" massive, heavy animals, forced to constantly experience strong loads on certain groups of joints and muscles. The severity of this disease should not be underestimated, because the payback is too high - the immobility of a beloved pet and a life filled with physical suffering.

What is joint dysplasia?

Dysplasia is the destruction (complete or partial) and / or modification of the articular tissue in a dog caused by improper adherence of the head of the bone to the glenoid cavity. Normally, this design has a tight contact, which ensures smooth sliding and maintains elasticity. In pathology, a gap (gap) is formed between the bone head and its "niche" in the joint, in the process of movement, the tissues rub against each other, this leads to their stratification, flattening, the articular cartilage is subjected to strong pressure and gradually deforms.

Symptoms, classification and degree of development of dysplasia

The disease affects the joints of the pelvis, hips and limbs of the animal and is divided into types:

Dysplasia of the hip joint

The most common of all articular deformities of this pathology. This is explained by the fact that the dog's hind legs are jerky and, when running or jumping, serve as shock absorbers for the animal. Large build, tall stature, massive physique create a strong load on the hip joint. Breeds such as St. Bernards, Shepherds, Rottweilers, Divers, etc. are at risk.

Symptoms of hip dysplasia:

  • Wobbly gait.
  • Frequent rest when moving.
  • Stiffness (difficulty walking up stairs, getting off the floor, etc.)
  • Unnatural lying position.
  • Asymmetrical trunk development (due to the desire to transfer weight to the front legs).
  • Pain on palpation of the thighs.

Classification of hip dysplasia by degrees:

  • A - there are no obvious signs of the disease.
  • B - deviations are almost invisible.
  • C - mild degree of the disease.
  • D - signs of violations within the limits of permissible norms.
  • E - severe degree of joint damage.

Elbow dysplasia

This is an abnormal growth of bone and cartilage tissue in the elbow or knee of the pet. The most common cause of lameness and chronic pain in large dogs.

Elbow dysplasia symptoms:

  • Soreness when feeling the forelimbs.
  • Difficulty raising the paw.
  • Seals and thickenings in the area of the joints.
  • Difficulty walking, incl. On the stairs.
  • Lameness.

Classification of elbow dysplasia by degrees:

  • 0 - no violations.
  • 1 - minimal manifestations (arthritic formations (osteophytes) not> 2 mm).
  • 2 - moderately acceptable build-ups (2-5 mm).
  • 3 - deeply penetrated tissue deformation (> 5 mm).

Knee dysplasia

This is a rare pathology, mainly the consequences of injuries or non-compliance with conditions of detention (slippery floors, heavy loads).

The disease is not congenital (with the exception of the rarest isolated cases), but the impetus for development occurs in the puppy's toddler age - it can be assumed from the age of 4 months.

The reasons for the development of dysplasia

The genetic predisposition to the disease is quite high. If the parents are carriers of the "harmful" gene, then the probability of a puppy getting sick, though not 100%, is automatically at risk from birth. And even if the owners raise and feed him according to all the rules, this does not guarantee that dysplasia will bypass their large-bred pet.

Unfortunately, some owners themselves, without realizing it, "spur" the disease. In an effort to turn their pet quickly into a dog giant and a strong man, they begin to intensively feed the puppy with calcined additives, growth stimulants, and meat cereals. And they rejoice that the baby is growing by leaps and bounds, gaining muscle mass in front of our eyes, forgetting that the bones simply do not have time to develop and get stronger as quickly. Add to this exorbitant physical training, and the sad result will come very quickly: joint deformities of varying degrees.

In addition to heredity and artificial muscle building, there are a number of factors that trigger the destructive mechanism of joint disease:

  • Excess protein, calcium, phosphorus.
  • Obesity.
  • Intense physical activity, not appropriate for age and skeletal development.
  • Lack of physical activity.
  • Limb injuries (sprains, dislocations, severe bruises, etc.).

Obvious, acutely expressed signs of the disease appear after a year of the dog's life, when intensive growth stops, and the bones of the skeleton harden.

Diagnosing dysplasia in dogs

No self-diagnosis is allowed, only professional medical advice. The list of diagnostic measures includes:

Visual inspection

  1. Test for mobility (flexion, extension of joints, listening for sounds when moving (creak, friction, clicks)).
  2. X-ray. The picture is taken under anesthesia to ensure complete immobility of the animal. Allows you to designate the degree of deformation of the femoral neck, joints, connective tissue.
  3. Arthroscopy. Endoscopic examination (minicamera) of the joint cavity. A very informative event, but expensive and accessible only to large clinics.
  4. Based on the diagnostics carried out, the veterinarian will determine the degree of the disease and prescribe therapeutic therapy.

Treatment of joint dysplasia in dogs

There are two methods of dealing with the disease:


Based on medications and physiotherapy:

  • Injections of chondroprotectors (intramuscularly or drip) to restore cartilage and joint tissues.
  • Antispasmodics for pain relief.
  • Anti-inflammatory to relieve inflammation.
  • Supplements with chondroitin and glucosamine to strengthen and regenerate bones.
  • Massage.
  • Swimming.
  • Magneto, laser, paraffin therapy.
  • Ozokerite.

With obesity, a low-calorie diet and an additional complex of vitamins are prescribed.


It is used for severe joint damage, when sparing therapy is already powerless. The hip joint head is surgically adjusted to fit the shape and size of the glenoid cavity. The type of surgery depends on the degree of deformation:

  • Simple removal of cartilaginous growth.
  • Excision of the femoral head and neck.
  • Osteotomy - changing the location of the joint fossa.
  • Endoprosthetics - removal of the hip joint with a prosthesis.

The sooner the symptoms of dysplasia are identified, the greater the chances of a successful recovery. A disease detected in adulthood is much more difficult to treat, and the prognosis is not always favorable.

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