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Detect, treat and prevent OCD in dogs

Osteochondrosis dissecans in dogs

OCD (Osteochondrosis dissecans) is a quite common disease of the musculoskeletal system of dogs. OCD occurs mainly in medium to large breeds of dogs and causes lameness in affected animals.


In the following we will explain how you can recognise OCD in your dog, what causes the disease and how it is treated. You will also learn how to support your four-legged friend and what you can do to prevent OCD in your dog.

What is OCD in dogs?

The abbreviation OCD stands for the disease Osteochondrosis dissecans. This is a developmental disorder of the musculoskeletal system, or more precisely, a degenerative disorder in the formation of cartilage in the joints.


Normally, the joint cartilages are supplied with nutrients via the synovia (joint fluid). However, it can happen that the cartilage grows to a thickness that makes a proper supply of nutrients impossible.


If this is the case, the joint cartilage dies. This can cause cartilage scales to detach from the rest of the cartilage. Only from this point on does the dog actually suffer from OCD. The cartilage scales can either remain connected to the remaining cartilage or become completely detached.


If the latter is the case, one speaks of free joint bodies. The free joint bodies can attach themselves to the joint capsule. There they are supplied with nutrients by the synovia, which allows them to continue to grow and ossify. 


This is often associated with inflammation in the joints, which sooner or later can lead to secondary arthrosis in dogs.

Causes of OCD in dogs

OCD occurs in young dogs at an age of about four to seven months, although the exact causes of the disease are not yet clearly understood. However, it can be assumed that several factors contribute to the development of osteochondrosis dissecans.

The following causes play a role in OCD:

  • Dog breed
  • Dietary errors
  • Hormonal disorders
  • Overload

OCD and race

Since certain breeds are particularly prone to the disease, OCD in dogs seems to be at least partially hereditary. In most cases the disease occurs in large dogs. Small dog breeds, however, are comparatively rarely affected.

An increased risk for OCD exists among others in the following dog breeds:

Dog with Joints & Bones Biscuits

OCD and the nutrition of the young dog

A balanced diet is essential for the healthy development of young dogs. Mistakes made in this regard can increase the risk of a dog developing OCD. 


In addition to a too high energy intake, which causes too rapid growth, a needs-based supply of vitamin D, phosphorus and calcium plays a particularly important role in this context.


This is because incorrect amounts of these micronutrients can disturb the maturation of the cartilage cells and thus contribute to a thickening of the joint cartilage.

OCD in dogs and the hormones

Another factor that seems to play an important role in OCD is the hormonal balance. This is because hormonal disorders can, under certain circumstances, lead to increased cartilage growth. 


If there is also a circulatory disorder in the affected joints, the cartilage is no longer adequately supplied with nutrients.

OCD in dogs as a result of overloading

The musculoskeletal system in young dogs is not yet properly developed and is therefore particularly sensitive to overloading. If a young animal is subjected to excessive stress, for example through playing and frolicking, this can lead to OCD and other permanent joint problems in dogs. 

Recognizing OCD in dogs

OCD occurs in dogs mainly in the shoulder joints and to some extent in the knees, elbows and ankles and is primarily manifested by lameness. 


If you notice an unsteady gait, a conspicuous lack of movement and swollen joints in your growing quadruped, these are possible signs of OCD.

Diagnosing OCD in dogs

If the above symptoms occur in your dog, you should consult a vet as soon as possible. Your vet will be able to check whether your suspicion is correct and whether your dog is actually suffering from OCD or whether another joint disease is possibly present.


In addition to a simple palpation and movement of the affected joints, x-rays, MRI scans and arthroscopy will help the veterinarian diagnose OCD in your dog.

Treat dogs with OCD

The exact treatment of dogs with OCD depends on the severity of the disease. If no cartilage scales have come loose at the time of diagnosis, a combination of anti-inflammatory medication, reduction of physical activity and adjustment of diet is often sufficient.


However, if loose cartilage fragments are already present, surgical intervention may be necessary to counteract OCD in the dog and prevent further discomfort for the four-legged friend. 


The joint must then be immobilised for several weeks. In addition, targeted physiotherapy can help to restore mobility and strengthen the muscles.

Prognosis for dogs with OCD

The earlier the disease is detected and treated, the better the chances of recovery for dogs with OCD. For this reason, it is important that you keep a close eye on your little four-legged friend and make an appointment with your vet immediately if you notice any abnormalities with the musculoskeletal system.

Preventing OCD in dogs

Joints & Bones by Bellfor

Of course, prevention is always better than treatment. In order to reduce the risk of contracting OCD, you should avoid overloading your young dog's musculoskeletal system.


In addition, we recommend that you feed your young dog only high-quality puppy food, such as Bellfor Wiesen-Schmaus Junior, and that you adjust the amount of food to his actual needs.

OCD in dogs: Bellfor joints & bones for support

If your dog belongs to a breed that is particularly affected by OCD, it makes sense to rely on a suitable dietary supplement such as Bellfor Joints & Bones. Joints & Bones by Bellfor contains the unique active ingredient complex Ovopet, which is extracted from the membrane of the shells of chicken eggs.


The more than 500 ingredients in Ovopet include, for example, hyaluronic acid, glucosamine and collagen. Thanks to the special composition of Ovopet, Bellfor Joints & Bones can make a decisive contribution to the nutrient supply of your dog's joints and thus to the health of the musculoskeletal system.


View Bellfor Joints & Bones in the shop.


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