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OSTEOARTHRITIS (degenerative joint disease)

What is degenerative joint disease?

Degenerative joint disease (DJD) is a veterinary term for osteoarthritis. It is characterised by progressive loss of the articular cartilage of the joints. This is the smooth cartilage at the end of the bones forming the joint surface. The cartilage begins to degrade leaving patches of bone exposed. Pain and stiffness occur when the cartilage is worn away to such an extent that the two bone ends come into contact. Osteophytes (small bony projections) can form around the affected joint, which can also cause pain and stiffness.


If your Puppy has just been diagnosed with developmental joint disease such as hip dysplasia, you are most likely still shocked and upset. With all your good intentions of researching your breeder and checking the parents you never envisaged you would be in this situation. 

What is hip dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia is abnormal development of the hip joint, which has a strong genetic component but is laso influenced by environmental factors such as diet, weight and exercise. Affected puppies have normal hips at birth but by two weeks changes have already begun to occur. The joints are predisposed to laxity and become unstable. As the bone remodels the shape of the hip joints become abnormal. The instability and abnormal loading through the joint causes tissue stretching and damage to joint cartilage. As a result osteoarthritis will occur leading to various degrees of dysfunction and pain.


What is hip dysplasia?


Elbow dysplasia, much like hip dysplasia, is a developmental joint disease affecting growing puppies.


Elbow dysplasia is really an umbrella term for several conditions that can affect the elbow joint as it develops. These are:

  1. Fragmented medial coronoid process

  2. Ununited anconeal process

  3. Osteochondrosis (OCD) of the distal humerus

Symptoms can range from very mild to extreme lameness. Diagnosis is often conformed with CT or MRI scan. Symptoms can occasionally be managed conservatively but often surgery is required to treat the problem


Canine cranial cruciate ligament rupture (CCLR) remains the most common orthopaedic problem seen in veterinary practice around the world. It is one of the most common reasons for hind limb lameness, pain, and subsequent knee arthritis.

The cranial cruciate ligament is an essential ligament involved in stabilising the canine stifle joint (knee). The ligament attaches from the femur (thigh bone) to the tibia (shin bone) and prevents excessive motion in the joint. The illustration depicts a CCL rupture - note how there is forward movement of the shin bone in relation to the femur. The meniscus, which is a ‘cartilage-like’ structure that sits in between the femur and tibia bones can also become damaged when the CCL is torn or ruptured


Intervertebral disc extrusion / degenerative disc disease

Intervertebral disc disease is the most common neurological spinal disorder in dogs. The intervertebral discs are situated between each spinal vertebra and act as a cushion to provide strength and flexibility to the spine. They have a semi-liquid centre called the nucleus pulposus, which is protected by a fibrous outer layer (annulus fibrosus).

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