For more than 32 years, Dr. Joel Todd Leroy Prince has provided veterinary care for small animals. Particularly focused on orthopedic surgery, Dr. Joel Todd Leroy Prince completes more than 100 continuing education hours per year to remain apprised of current treatment options.
Because a dog's front legs carry more than half of its body weight, a malformed elbow joint can cause a great deal of discomfort as well as mobility issues. Malformed elbow joints most commonly occur when a small bone known as the coronoid process breaks away from the ulna, or foreleg, though they may also be present when the related anconeal process either separates or fails to attach correctly to the same foreleg bone. Less commonly, a dog may be born with an improperly matured support bone that causes a thickening and cracking of the cartilage and an exposure of the bone.
Any one of these conditions can cause a disabling osteoarthritis, which limits a dog's mobility and can make activity very uncomfortable. Such symptoms can lead to a diagnosis of dysplasia and subsequent surgery to remove the damaged bone. While surgery is typically effective, medication and lifestyle modification can be enough for some canines.
If neither of these treatments proves sufficient, a dog may be a candidate for total elbow replacement. Appropriate for some dogs with healthy wrists and shoulders, the procedure can improve mobility following a recovery period of three to six months.