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What Are The Signs of Elbow Dysplasia in My Dogs?

What Are The Signs of Elbow Dysplasia in My Dogs?

Elbow dysplasia in dogs

Elbow dysplasia is the most common cause of forelimb lameness in young, large and giant breed dogs. Most dogs who have elbow dysplasia are lame in one or both front legs. Very often the gait of a dog with elbow dysplasia is described as ‘nodding’ with the dog’s head nodding up and down as they walk. Dogs who limp on both front elbows will not have a limp, but an unusual “paddling” gait. Dogs with elbow dysplasia are not always consistently lame, often it is most notable after prolonged periods of rest or activity. For example, they may be lame on first waking up and getting out of their bed, however then go for a walk where the lameness appears to resolve, only for the lameness to return afterwards.

Although most dogs will be diagnosed before they are two years of age, some dogs will not limp until they are older.

The severity of symptoms in dogs with elbow dysplasia can vary, ranging from mild, intermittent lameness to more severe and constant discomfort.

Here are some of the common symptoms:

  • Intermittent lameness in one or both front legs
  • A typical walk has your dog ‘head nodding’ or ‘paddling’ while walking
  • Limping and/or stiffness in front limbs, this is usually worse after exercise but can be difficult to spot if your dog is lame in both elbows
  • Reluctance to go for their usual walks or to play
  • Difficulty rising, such as when getting out of their bed or climbing stairs
  • Front paws pointing outwards and/or elbows held at a strange angle
  • Swollen, puffy elbows (in severe cases)

Further reading

Read more about Elbow Dysplasia and Weakness - Causes, Prevention and How to Help

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