Dear Dr. Kimmey: We have a 9-month-old male bull mastiff puppy named Lindo. He has been limping for two weeks on his right front leg. We had him to the vet twice. He has put Lindo on the pain medication Rimadyl, but it only helps a little. He continues to limp despite no activity as instructed by our vet. Do you have any suggestions or recommendations? What may be causing his limping?
Dear Greg: Several possibilities that could be causing the lameness, including canine elbow dysplasia. This is a broad term used to describe specific diseases that affect the elbow in immature large-breed dogs.
The diseases that make up elbow dysplasia are osteochrondritis dissecans, fragmented coronoid process and ununited anconeal process.
Osteochondritis dissecans is a condition where cells that mature and develop into cartilage on the end of the bone develop abnormally and form a loose flap of cartilage in the joint. Occurrences are common in the shoulder, elbow, knee and heel. Fragmented coronoid process is where a small piece of bone breaks off on the inner side of the ulna that makes up the elbow. Ununited anconeal process is where a piece of bone of the ulnar that makes up part of the elbow joint does not fuse.
Another possibility is panosteitis, which has been referred to as growing pains. This can create a leg-shifting lameness that may go on for a few weeks to months.
In hypertrophic osteodystrophy, there is an issue with the long aspect of the bones causing trouble with the growth plate. These dogs are usually very ill and run high fevers.
Diagnosis starts with a thorough exam and X-rays. Each condition produces a characteristic change on the X-ray. If X-rays do not provide an answer, arthroscopy or a computed tomography (CT scan) can be done to arrive at a diagnosis.
Treatment for elbow dysplasia is surgery. Panosteitis is treated with strict rest and pain medication.
Pets Duane A. Kimmey, D.V.M., is owner of North Metro Veterinary Hospital LLC, 20021 Greenfield Road, Detroit. Questions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com or PETS, Features Department, The Detroit News, 615 W. Lafayette Blvd., Detroit, MI 48226.