Thursday, August 19, 2010

Day 3

OCD could stand for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (which pets can suffer from), but today it stood for Osteochondrosis (or Osteochondritis Dissecans). OCD is a developmental orthopedic disease that typically causes lameness in puppies 7 to 12 months old, and most commonly affects the shoulder, elbow, stifle, or hock joints. OCD occurs when part of the smooth cartilage that lines the joint surface doesn't form correctly, resulting in a defect in what should be a nice smooth joint surface. The joint ends up arthritic and painful, leading to limping in puppies that should be bouncing off the walls.

In the case today, we saw a 9 month old female Goldendoodle with forelimb lameness. She was painful on manipulation of her shoulder joint, and her radiographs showed the typical abnormalities associated with shoulder OCD. Unfortunately for her, the options for treatment are either surgical removal of the abnormal cartilage or long-term medical management for arthritis. And while dogs usually return to full function after surgery, the joint usually (eventually) goes on to develop arthritis anyway. And the disease is very commonly bilateral, which means her other shoulder will probably become sore soon and require the same sort of intervention.

This is a major financial burden for a pet owner who thought the most expensive surgery her pet would be facing is her spay. It's also disappointing for the owner, who thought her pet might make a competitive agility dog. She also thought that getting a "mixed breed" dog would lessen the likelihood of congenital disorders... but unfortunately, Doodles are just as prone to the developmental disorders of Goldens as are purebreds, and they're also prone to the developmental disorders of standard poodles.

So, today I learned:
  • it stinks to tell a pet owner that their animal has a limp that won't go away on its own, that requires surgery to correct, and that will give the pet lifelong predisposition to developing arthritis
  • it stinks to see a happy bouncy puppy walking with a painful limp
  • it can be hard to convince an owner that, despite being happy and bouncy, your puppy is in pain (otherwise, why would she be limping?)
  • sometimes pet insurance really is worth it
  • don't buy into that "hybrid vigor" nonsense that breeders of "designer dog" breeds try to push

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