Elbow Dysplasia

Back in the Summer we decided to go ahead and have Miles’ hips and elbows x-rayed and sent to OFA for evaluation.  The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals is an organization that aims to research and prevent orthopedic and hereditary diseases in animals, namely dogs. They focus a lot on hips and hip dysplasia, but they also have guidelines for testing and rating elbow disorders.

Miles is neutered and therefore never going to be bred, but we elected to do these tests because a) he’s an athelete and b) he came from a rather dubious breeder (our mistake). So off we went to our vet for radiographs.

Great news first, his hips rated OFA Good. From the OFA website:

Good (Figure 2): slightly less than superior but a well-formed congruent hip joint is visualized. The ball fits well into the socket and good coverage is present.

Bad news, his elbows were rated as Grade 1 Dysplasia with DJD in both. The only grades involved are for abnormal elbows with radiographic changes associated with secondary degenerative joint disease or arthritis. According to the OFA, Grade 1 means there is minimal bone change along anconeal process of ulna (less than 3mm).

So I guess this doesn’t sound so bad until you think about where the dog carries most of it’s weight…on it’s front end. And then you think about most of the forces incurred doing agility and it’s mainly on it’s front end. CRAP! Into panic mode I go.

I pulled it back together and started to gather information about how to handle the diagnosis and prognosis of Grade 1 Elbow Dysplasia in my 76lb agility dog…..76 POUNDS!  Oh nooooes!  “Miles is chunky” says an acquaintance.  “He’s about a 6” says our vet.  “He has no ribs” says my trainer.  My healthy raw-fed wonderfully active jogging partner is FAT. 

Ok first step, weight loss.  I cut back his food to about 1.25lbs per day from about 1.5-1.75lbs per day.  At the advice of several folks I spoke with, to include the wonderful breeder that we were awaiting a puppy from, I also increased his salmon oil and added a glucosamine/chondroitin supplement with MSM and Vit. C.  I also cut back on his road running and now do mainly trails off-lead now or at least have him run in the grass on the side of the road. 

Fast forward four months and Miles is down to a slender 63lbs, but could still stand to lose a few more.  He’s doing great and while he never was symptomatic, I want to protect his front as much as possible.  I will never push him to jump full height in any agility venue except NADAC and CPE where the jump height for him is 20″.  So he’ll never get a MACH or an ADCH…oh well.  Did I really think he’d get those anyway?  Probably not.  I’ll be happy with a few titles and a dog who’s happy to play and lives a long active life 🙂

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