Osteochondrosis Dissecans

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    What Is Osteochondrosis Dissecans?

    Osteochondrosis Dissecans(OCD) is a disease characterized by abnormal development of growth cartilage. It occurs commonly in the shoulders of immature, large and giant-breed dogs. The lesion appears on the caudal surface of the humeral head.

    In some cases, the resulting defect occupies half of the area of the humeral head. The cartilage flap may completely detach from the underlying bone and become lodged in the back of the joint pouch. The causes of OCD are many and include genetic and nutritional factors.

    Signs & Symptoms

    Clinical signs often develop when the dog is between 4 and 8 months of age. Dogs usually show a lameness of one forelimb that improves after rest and worsens after exercise. As the condition progresses, the dogs become consistently lame on the affected leg.


    Limiting the activity of the dog and treating with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may help some dogs with OCD of the shoulder. A trial period of exercise restriction (brief leash walks only) for a minimum of 6 weeks can be attempted. If lameness resolves, surgery may not be indicated. However, if lameness persists more than 6 weeks, surgical removal of the flap is indicated.

    Susceptible Dog Breeds

    It is thought that the following dogs are at particularly high risk to Osteochondritis Dissecans:

    The advantages of knowing which breeds of dogs are at increased risk for Osteochondrosis of the shoulder are evident. It can heighten awareness among breed club members, helping them make decisions about how to spend their foundation dollars, and it can lead to more emphasis being placed on methods to diagnose, and genetically screen for the disease in that breed before animals are bred, and genes are recycled to the gene pool.

    Video Credits: Greg Martinez DVM


    1. LaFond et al. – Breed Susceptibility for Developmental Orthopedic Diseases in Dogs
    2. Ann Johnson – Osteochondrosis of the Shoulder – The American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS)


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