No, not the OCD that compels your dog to keep checking on his buried bones. In this case, OCD stands for Osteochondritis Dissecans. It’s a painful joint disease affecting shoulders, elbows or knees.
OCD is more common in large-breed dogs. It is often found in Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Boerboels, Great Danes, Bernese Mountain Dogs and Saint Bernards.
Not all big breeds are vulnerable. OCD is less likely to affect Doberman Pinschers, Collies, and Siberian Huskies.
Most often, the cause is rapid bone development. As such OCD is usually found in puppies between four and eight months old. However, OCD may also occur in older dogs and smaller breeds, affecting males about five times more often than females.
The inflammation and lesions on the smooth cartilage causes pain in the dog’s joints.
Most times small pieces of the cartilage break off and float free in the joint. Those bits of cartilage, known as “joint mice”, don’t die; they keep growing. Once floating free, fluid builds up and calcification occurs. The joint gets inflamed and swollen, nerves get irritated, and the pup is in pain.
No one’s quite sure what causes OCD. Heredity may be part of the problem.
Some factors include:
- Too much stress on a young dog’s bones
- Restricted blood flow to the cartilage
- Diet and nutrition
- Weight problems
Exactly how much or how preventable the condition might be isn’t known.
When it’s time to see a vet
It’s fairly easy to notice if your dog has OCD. First, be aware if your dog is one of the large breeds prone to the condition. If so, watch for any of these signs :
- Favoring one paw or leg while walking or even when lying down
- Swelling at the shoulder or, more rarely, the elbows and knees
- Pain when trying to extend a swollen joint
A vet can make a solid diagnosis with an exam and some X-rays.
There are two kinds of treatment for OCD: conservative and surgical.
Conservative treatment is used for mild cases and the youngest dogs. Treatment is approximately four to ten weeks of very restrictive “bed rest”. Walking is restricted to bathroom trips.
That means no running, no romping – as difficult as that can be to enforce. The cartilage will then heal on its own in about 60 percent of cases, and the dog can get back to playing.
During this time it is beneficial to supplement. A good joint supplement, such as Sashas Blend will assist with pain, inflammation and cartilage protection.
Surgery is used for more severe cases, or where the conservative approach hasn’t worked.
In the surgery, the vet will remove the joint mice and repair the lesions. After surgery and a couple of weeks of rest, most dogs make a complete recovery and return to 100 percent function.
It’s very rare for the condition to recur.
Help you dog before and post surgery. A complete joint health supplement will aid in recovery of the joint capsule and cartilage, bring down inflammation while assisting with pain management.
Prevention is an iffy proposition. People believe that an overweight growing dog is more prone to develop OCD – but there isn’t much evidence yet.
Although there is a link between weight and conditions such as hip or elbow dysplasia, including the malformation of cartilage in weight-bearing joints. For this reason alone, it is very important to manage the weight of your large breed puppy.
It is common sense to protect a young pup’s limbs from unnecessary physical impact. Avoid movements such as repeated jumps off a deck or out of a car and jogging.
Diet plays a role – ensure your puppy eats a good food that promotes healthy muscle and bone growth.
Ensure that you grow your puppy slow so as not to place to much stress on those delicate, soft joints too quickly.