Although total hip replacement has been available to dogs for more than 35 years, the elbow replacement is significantly newer. It has only been in common use since the early 2000s, and it has already provided comfort to dogs whose elbow malformations or injuries have failed to respond to medication.
Abnormalities of the elbow joint are particularly serious in dogs, as the front legs bear approximately 60 percent of the body's weight. If a piece of bone matures incorrectly, attaches poorly, or breaks away from the structure to which it attaches, it can cause severe pain and osteoarthritis. These symptoms can dramatically impact a dog's mobility.
Elbow replacement can provide hope to the owners of dogs whose elbow dysplasia has worsened, even after more conservative treatments. It is a complex procedure, and improvements may take three months or more to become apparent. Hundreds of dogs have seen results in the short time that the procedure has been available.