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Abnormal Development of the Elbow in Dogs

4 min read



Surgery may be the treatment of choice; if so, cold-packing the elbow joint immediately following surgery to help decrease swelling and control pain is advised. You will want to continue to apply the cold pack five to ten minutes every eight hours for three to five days, or as directed by your veterinarian. Range-of-motion exercises will be beneficial for healing therapy until your dog can bear weight on the limb(s). Your veterinarian will demonstrate the types of range of motion movements you will be working on with your dog, based on the location and severity of the affected limb. Activity is restricted for all patients postoperatively for a minimum of four weeks, but to avoid muscle wasting or abnormal rigidity, you will need to encourage early, active movement of the affected joint(s). Again, have your veterinarian advise you on the specific movement therapy you will be using with your dog.


Weight control is an important aspect of decreasing load and stress on the affected joint(s). Medications may be prescribed for minimizing pain and decreasing inflammation. Medications may also be prescribed for slowing the progression of arthritic changes, and for protecting joint cartilage.




Excessive intake of nutrients that promote rapid growth can have an influence on the development of elbow dysplasia; therefore, restricted weight gain and growth in young dogs that are at increased risk (due to breed, etc.) may decrease its incidence. Avoid breeding affected animals, since this is a genetic trait. If your dog has been diagnosed with elbow dysplasia, you will need to have it neutered or spayed, and you will need to report the incident to the breeder your dog came from, if that is the case. If the affected dog came from a litter in your own home, do not repeat damsire breedings that result in these offspring.


Living and Management


Yearly examinations are recommended for assessing the progression and deterioration of joint cartilage. Progression of degenerative joint disease is to be expected; however, the prognosis is fair to good for all forms of this disease.



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