Osteochondrosis or OCD is a disease of cartilage that has
been identified in a wide number of species including chickens,
pigs, horses, humans and dogs.
The incidence of osteochondrosis is very high in domestic
pigs which are bred for particular characteristics. In contrast
it is absent in wild pigs.
It is a disease which only affects growing individuals
This condition affects the cartilage development that occurs
at the end of long bones within the joints. As a result
of a failing blood supply, areas of cartilage die and become
susceptible to minor trauma leading to osteoarthritis at
a very early age.
Certain breeds are predisposed, reinforcing the role that
genes and heritability have to play. The elbow joint is
very much more commonly affected and is a condition I see
on a daily basis affecting Labradors, Golden retrievers
and German Shepherds.
Giant breeds of dog, such as Pyrenean mountain dogs, are
prone to developing lesions in their shoulder. Therefore
when Erin Rawlings was presented to me at the ripe old age
of 6 months with a severe left forelimb lameness this condition
was uppermost in my mind despite the fact that it has been
almost 10 years since I last saw such a case.
Radiography confirmed the diagnosis with the characteristic
changes present of flattening of the ball of the shoulder
joint (see www.fairfieldvets.co.uk).
When Erin failed to improve with medication her shoulder
joint was then explored at surgery and a large cartilage
flap which had formed was removed.