Osteochondritis Dessicans of the Humeral Condyle (OCD)

Burnese Mountain Dogs are one of several breeds at greater risk of OCD of the elbow than other breeds.

Osteochondritis dessicans of the humeral condyle is one of the three main causes of elbow dysplasia in young, large breed dogs. This condition is caused by an abnormal and incomplete formation of the cartilage on the humerus bone, which then becomes very thick and brittle. This leads to a flap of cartilage protruding into the joint space. With this form of elbow dysplasia, the chances of both front legs being affected are very high.

Breeds, Gender, and Age Most Commonly Affected by OCD of the Humeral Condyle

Presentation and Signs of OCD of the Humeral Condyle

Diagnosis of OCD of the Humeral Condyle

OCD is diagnosed through a veterinarian's examination and x-rays. On x-ray, a defect in the joint with a bone or cartilage flap or a flat humeral condyle are tell-tale signs of this condition. CT scans can also be used to confirm the diagnosis, if it is not clear from plain radiographs.

Treatment of OCD of the Humeral Condyle

Non-surgical options provide some pain relief for the arthritis that is likely to go along with this condition, but is really a minor treatment compared to the effective nature of surgery.

Do not give your dog any medications unless directed to do so by your veterinarian.

Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) like Rimadyl and Deramaxx are very helpful in fighting the pain and inflammation associated with OCD of the elbow.

Adequan is a polysulfated glycosaminoglycan that can aid in the repair of cartilage and help lubricate joints. It is a good option to help reduce pain. This drug is much safer for long term use than NSAIDs, but it does cost more than oral medications and is more complicated because it is given through injection by a veterinarian. The specific way in which this drug works is not fully understood but studies have shown success in its treatment of OCD of the humeral condyle.

Surgery, in many cases, works well if OCD is caught early. But owners should be aware that any component of arthritis that is already present in the elbow joint will continue to cause the dog pain, even after surgery. The most frequently used and effective surgery for this disease is a medial approach to the elbow and removal of the extra flap that is protruding into the joint.

If you decide with your veterinarian that surgery is the best step for your dog, it is recommended that you use a board certified veterinary orthopedic surgery specialist who is able to perform arthroscopic surgery.

Prevention of OCD of the Humeral Condyle

Prognosis of OCD of the Humeral Condyle

Alternative Therapies for OCD of the Humeral Condyle

Giving glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate supplementation as directed by your veterinarian may slow the progression of the arthritis associated with elbow dysplasia. Glucosamine supplements should be in the form of glucosamine hydrochloride (HCl) not glucosamine sulfate as glucosamine HCl has better bioavailability.

Omega 3 fatty acids have also been used as a nutritional supplement and seem to be of benefit to dogs with elbow OCD. Omega 3 fatty acids should be in the form of fish or krill oils, not flaxseed. Fish and krill oils provide the correct forms of anti-inflammatory omega 3s, whereas flaxseed requires conversion to the anti-inflammatory compounds and dogs have limited amounts of the enzyme required to make this conversion.

If you decide to feed your large breed puppy a homemade diet, it is very important to ensure that it is properly balanced. For example, these dogs need a very specific amount of calcium. If you feed your dog a homemade diet, it is critical to use one developed by a veterinary nutritionist.


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