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"Bailey" - Labrador with Osteochondrosis & Osteoarthritis

Photo: BAiley


Last week-end I went to the "dogs" quite literally! I spent my Saturday evening at the Greyhound racing track using my many years of education and expertise in canine locomotor function to pick the obvious winners.

From 13 races I successfully managed to select the canine athlete to grace the winning podium on only 2 occasions. Whilst some cynics may like to suggest that this clearly illustrates a gap in my education I should like to take the view that picking winners at the racetrack is more of a lottery than either I (or my bank manager) had previously anticipated.

Playing the odds in diagnosing orthopaedic disease in Pedigree dogs is altogether a much easier occupation. The fact is that if you own certain breeds of dog then your chances of having a particular condition can be very high indeed.

If you were to own an Otterhound or a Clumber spaniel for example then the debate is not so much whether your dog will have a problem with it's hips but only to what extent.

"Bailey" is also an increasingly common example of problems that I see with elbow arthritis in Labradors. At the age of only 15 months he has a fairly severe expression of osteochondrosis and subsequent osteoarthritis affecting his left elbow. Consequently, the range of movement in his elbow is considerably reduced.

This type of disability is all too common amongst his breed type and the focus of treatment is aimed at slowing further degeneration of his joint. Whilst appropriate medication is very important the mainstay of successful therapy is weight control.

A recent study demonstrated that a lean Labrador lives, on average, 2 years longer than an overweight one. Given the high prevalence of joint disease it is very easy to understand the significance of this study.

Fortunately for Bailey his owner is all too aware of his needs and keeps him in excellent condition allowing him to lead as active a life as possible. He may not grace any winning podium but he will certainly enjoy himself trying!


Terry Dunne BVMS, Cert SAO, MRCVS

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