A Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine researcher says she may have developed a cure for large breed dogs that develop arthritis as adults after suffering from a common forelimb lameness when they are puppies.
Such large breed dogs include Labradors, Newfoundlands and Rottweilers.
Ursula Krotscheck, DVM, Dipl. ACVS, assistant professor of clinical sciences, is now looking for puppies to enroll in a study to confirm her theory. She will work with the puppies free of charge, according to Cornell.
One of the more common causes of this disability is a bone problem in the elbow joint called fragmented coronoid process, or FCP, according to Dr. Krotscheck. The condition is a result of the ulna growing faster than the bones next to it, creating extra pressure in the elbow joint and causing the ulna to chip.
For years, veterinarians have been removing the bone chip to help dogs heal, but this treatment does not prevent the dogs from developing arthritis later in life, according to Krotscheck.
The study will see whether an additional procedure to treat FCP may prevent arthritis for these dogs. As Cornell explained it, “When [Krotscheck] removes the bone chip in dogs with FCP, she also makes a cut in the ulna that allows it to rotate out of the way, reducing any unnecessary pressure in the elbow.”
Because the ulna is a non-weight bearing bone, a cut in it will not affect the dog’s gait or comfort, Krotscheck said.
“The bone can sink down if it needs to relieve pressure,” she said. “And the dogs heal completely after six to eight weeks.”
As of early February, Krotscheck had nine dogs enrolled in the study. Eleven more are required.
Dogs with FCP under 1 year old will be randomly assigned to have the traditional treatment or the new method. They will then be followed for a year after surgery. Arthritis would be detectable within this time frame.
“We have hopes that this procedure will improve the lives of these dogs and help them maintain healthier joints later in life,” Krotscheck said.
The study is being funded by a grant from the Morris Animal Foundation. For details on enrolling in the study, call Krotscheck at 607-253-3060.