Canis ISSN: 2398-2942

BVA/KC Elbow dysplasia scheme Owner Factsheet

Elbow dysplasia (ED) is an important cause of lameness in medium to large breed dogs. Dysplasia means abnormal development and ED is an inheritable, developmental condition that causes lameness in both young and older dogs. 

Young dogs may be lame from multiple types of abnormal cartilage development or from joint incongruity (incorrect alignment of the joint surfaces). These dogs will develop osteoarthritis at an early age which becomes progressively more severe as they grow older. Other dogs may not show lameness as puppies but exhibit arthritic changes in later life.  However, there are many dogs with subclinical disease that show no sign of lameness but still have an increased risk of producing affected offspring. These dogs can only be detected by screening. 

Elbow dysplasia is a difficult disease to treat and osteoarthritis is a common sequel which may cause severe lameness in later life. Prevention is definitely better than cure!

Elbow: normal flexed (35-45°) - radiograph mediolateral ©John Houlton

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