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Ostechondrosis Dissecans in Dogs… Symptoms, expectations and costs!

Ostechondrosis Dissecans is sometimes referred to as OCD,

But it’s not THAT type of OCD. This OCD is a medical condition that occurs in dogs and affects the knees, ankles and spines of affected pups. Osteochondritis happens because the cartilage inside your dog’s joints isn’t whole, and friction is causing pain when your pet tries to move around.


As you can imagine, when you rely on your four legs for almost everything in your life this disease is painful and debilitating, and it is one of those conditions for which pet insurance was invented.


This condition is not specific to dogs and does occur in cats too.   That said however, it most commonly affects young dogs of large to super-sized breed, which is why we’re going to focus most of our discussion here towards those “kinds” of dogs, so if you are the owner of a giant dog take note! This article may just be for you.

What is Ostechondrosis Dissecans and how do they catch it?

Osteochondrosis in dogs stems from improper joint cartilage in the elbows, hips or back. This debilitating condition sees your dog unable to perform smooth movements without catching the affected area on friction caused by the improper formation of the cartilage, ultimately leading to pain, swelling and discomfort.

The elbow variant…

Of this condition affects and impairs the coronoid process which refers to the free movement of the joint. It can lead to ununited anconeal process which sees the bony perturbance at the edge of the elbow come loose from its ligaments. This can be excruciating for dogs, especially when they don’t have the ability to rest it.

Osteochondrosis of the elbow…

Is fairly similar symptomatically to elbow dysplasia and the two conditions often come hand in hand. You may also experience a diagnosis of fragmented coronoid process. This simply means that the medial coronoid process isn’t working smoothly because one of the bones has been shattered. Once the articular cartilage is worn away the bones are much more prone to do this than in the early stages of development.

When this condition affects…

The hip joint it causes friction as the subchondral bone (that’s the bone underneath the fragmented cartilage) rubs against the humeral head of the leg bone. The hip is a stifle joint, meaning it is very complicated to fix issues in this area.

The third variant of osteochronditis…

Occurs in the shoulder, where the shoulder joint experiences the same symptoms as the others. Clinical signs of this condition include limping or pain in one or both back legs, trouble rising and sitting and a characteristic walk where the dog will try hard not to move its back legs.

It is believed that…

All variants of this condition are created during endochondral ossification – or when they are still in the womb, to you and me. In all three variations the pet may develop a cartilage flap, an OCD lesion or lesions that cause further friction and pain.


Whether your pets condition affects the hips, elbows or spine it will be painful for the dog. This is a degenerative joint disease that will get worse over time and might eventually lead to lameness if left untreated.

Affected Breeds

All dogs – even small ones – can be affected by this condition and the risk of contraction increases if your pet has any other leg, hip, spine or shoulder problems. That being said, these are the breeds known to be most at risk:

  • The Bernese Mountain Dog
  • The German Shepherd Dog
  • The Golden Retriever
  • The Great Dane
  • The Labrador Retriever
  • The Newfoundland
  • The Rottweiler

It is important to remember that…

This condition can occur in mixed breed dogs and is not pedigree specific. You should always ask about your pup’s family history when you buy, just to lessen the chances of your dog coming with inherited diseases.

Treatment Options

Your vet may want to start your dog on a course of NSAIDS or anti-inflammatory drugs to take the pain away if your pup is truly suffering. A diet rich in glucosamine has been proven to help the joints too, but in this case, prevention is better than cure. Without surgery, there is no known way to completely remove the lesions, and even then, it is not a guaranteed treatment. Often the lesions will return, especially in dogs who have not been diagnosed until after they are a year old.

Your vet may…

Suggest that you opt for the surgical choice as it does have the best chances of success, although not with older dogs. In some cases, the dog seems to manage the pain well enough with only a little medical help and a big diet adjustment, however, your vet will be able to give you more information about exactly what that will entail. Some fatty acids have been found to support healthy joints, and the best way to avoid this condition is to provide your pet with joint care treats and supplements all throughout their lives.

Which brings us to…

Were we like to remind folks that we here at IndulgeYourPet are not doctors, veterinarians or medical professionals.  All we are is a bunch of folks who just happen to be passionate about animals and only want what’s best for them.

This is why…

If you feel like your pet may have Ostechondrosis Dissecans (or any other health issue for that matter) the first thing that you’re going to want to do is have him or her check out by a vet ASAP!


The truth is, an early diagnosis will often lead to the “best” medical outcome for your pet regardless of what is bothering him or her, but beyond that diagnosing a medical condition early could save you a bundle in medical costs!

This is why…

We here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost for you to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.

Now will a pet insurance policy be right for everyone?

No, probably not.  But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.

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