I am hoping to get some advice from others who have been through the elbow dysplasia ordeal. I have a four year old lab. She was diagnosed with elbow dysplasia last year and had arthroscopic surgery last year (about 8 months ago) to remove fragments. While the ortho vet was in there, he also shaved down the part of the bone that was rubbing together. She still has some cartilage left, but what they called "severe" arthritis. She had some initial improvement, but she still has a small limp and quite a bit of swelling around the joints in both elbows. I suspect that there might be more bone fragments now but have not had x-rays or more surgery to confirm.
I keep her very lean to make it easier on her. We have tried Adequan injections and went through the loading dose of 2 shots a week for about 4 weeks. I really haven't noticed much of a difference at all but it causes her diaherrea so I'm inclined to stop those. The vet told us to give her Rimadyl as needed for pain, but I am concerned about that because of the side effects and because she's so young. Also, we could not give Rimadyl during the Adequan series as he was concerned about counter-indications. I've thought about possibly getting her more surgery if she does have bone fragments to remove the fragments, but I hate to subject her to that and I'm worried it's going to turn into her needing surgery every six months or so to remove fragments. Money really isn't much of an issue for us, but the arthroscopic surgery runs around $2000, so that could get pretty pricey pretty quickly. The ortho vet who did her arthroscopic surgery (he's board certified) is also doing elbow replacements now, but said she's not bad enough for that. Additionally, I'd like them to get more experience doing that before we consider it - they only started these in the last few years and it is very new. With regard to exercise, I want to exercise her more and suspect that might help. However, I've only been walking her a few times a week for about 15 to 20 minutes at a time because she starts limping worse and I feel bad. I'm concerned about injuring her.
Does anyone who has been through this have any advice? Anything you've tried that worked particularly well or that doesn't work? She is still such a young dog that I want to do everything possible for her.
Here's a link to an article I wrote about my experiences with elbow dysplasia.
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At what age was your dog first diagnosed?
She was diagnosed at about 3 1/2. She had never shown any signs previously. All of a sudden she started limping a bit and that's what caused us to take her in.
I forgot to mention that she's also on Cosequin - 3 per day - and fish oil.
Have you tried swimming or physical therapy? My Scotty had orthroscopic bilateral surgery to remove fragments and shave down the bones to prevent future fragmentation. It's been a year since the surgery and he's doing great. I really think that physical therapy/underwater treadmill is helping him tremendously. It helps to build muscle with the least pressure put on the joints.
We hadn't tried that yet but it is something I am considering.
I have a bilateral ED - diagnosed at 2 months, had bilateral surgery. He has had bum elbows since I got him at 6 months, which we have been dealing with (plus bilateral CCL surgeries).Originally Posted by stlabs
Besides weekly hydrotherapy sessions since then, he has been on maxi doses of supplements and herbals, salmon oil and vitamin E and ester C.
After his last CCL surgery, I started Adequan (no side effects, and diarrhea is uncommon). He is no candidate for NSAID's which all give him GI upset. We started his Adequan at twice a week for a month, the went on to once every two weeks. I tried reducing to once a month (always while using oral supplements) but it didn't work much. We have been on a weekly schedule for the past two years; I have also added hyaluronic acid twice a day and I give him ACV with his meals.
He does weekly PT sessions since his CCL surgeries and we still keep up our weekly hydrotherapy sessions.
I have since cut down on oral supplements - no more Cosequin, Glycoflex. He gets minimal doses of MSM - but he still gets boswellia and bromelain regularly. On very bad bouts of limping, we use Yucca.
I have tested and tweaked his supplements regularly for tha past 4+ years, but I have to say that long term the Adequan+HA is what has worked best. Given the condition of his elbows and his TPLO knee, he is a walking miracle. Regular PT and swimming have also helped. He never will be able to walk miles, but he can manage quite well for about an hour's walk.
The only thing I am very careful about is to avoid body slamming. He does rough house with my other dogs, but we tend to avoid other dogs. His surgeon stressed the fact that body slamming (especially the way labs do it), can cause micro-traumas to his elbows. Other than being careful, he leads a normal life.
Hi Paola! Thanks for responding to my post on Orthodogs. Did you see a positive impact on the Adequan after the 1st 4 weeks?
Hi Dina -
sorry I couldn't be more helpful. Elbow replacement was something I decided to forego.
Nope - it took about 3/4 months to notice a consistent improvement. It took me almost a year to reduce oral supplements. It has now been two winters that we have been using it and I very rarely have to use the Yucca, which we previously used 3 weeks a month during winter.
He has been doing quite well for some time - he gets between 1.5 to 2.2 ml (I alternate dosage).
If you're up to doing IM or subQ yourself, and your vet gives you a script, you can use Chondroprotec instead of Adequan. It is very similar, is about 75% as effective as Adequan and if you buy it from KVvet it costs about 50% less.
One of the OD moderators (who also has horses) has been using it for her lab for the past 5 years with good results, always in combination with HA.