The term elbow dysplasia is somewhat misleading because the condition is not really similar to that in the hip. The problem arises in the anconeal process which ought to be united to the ulna and which may not be. When the process is un-united, and sometimes even when it is, there is an elbow problem leading to some degree of discomfort for the dog.
Herditary and enviromental factors can influence the development of the disease in dogs. ‘Hereditary’ relates to the genetic code passed to the offspring by both parents and environmental are all the outside influences which alter and shape the growth and functions of the bones, cartilage, ligaments, tendons and muscles of the body. In simple terms the genetic code is rather like an architect’s plan (genotype), while the environment is like the builder and his materials (phenotype). In elbow dysplasia the architect has made some errors but the builders have a great influence on how things finally look and function.
X-ray is used to screen the dogs elbows for the condition. The x-ray is then sent to specialists that are expert in reading and grading elbows. They graded the results as follows:
|ELBOW GRADING SYSTEM||GRADE SCORE|
|MILD ELBOW DYSPLASIA||1|
|MODERATE ELBOW DYSPLASIA OR A PRIMARY LESION||2|
|SEVERE ELBOW DYSPLASIA||3|
BRITISH VETERINARY ASSOCIATION BREEDING ADVICE
The overall grade is used internationallly as the basis for breeding advice. Ideally dogs with "normal"elbows should be chosen and at least dog with 2 or 3 arithrosis should not be used for breeding. As elbow dysplasia is a prevalent disease, especially in the ( Bernese Mountain Dogs, German Shepherds, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Newfoundland, Rottweiler), such advice will only be effective if it is continued over a number of generations. The most difficult part of accepting such advice for many breeders is that some dogs have never been lame and exercise freely, but nevertheless may have high grades. This is the subclinical population with the ability to pass on the problem in the breed. For long-term control of the disease these dogs ought not to be bred from.
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