This is perhaps the cruelest of the three orthopedic disorders discussed on this site. Elbow dysplasia is the disease most commonly implicated in front limb lameness (limping) in dogs. The 2014 study at UC Davis 61 confirms early neutering (or spaying) is a major risk factor for a dog developing elbow dysplasia. Briefly, spay/neuter delays the closure of growth plates on long bones, provided the spay or neuter occurs before the growth plates have closed.61 The closure of bony growth plates generally occurs when the dog is between the ages of 4 and 18 months. If the dog is spayed or neutered before they are 6 months old, the likelihood of the dog developing elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia and/or cranial cruciate ligament tear is significant.
Further, although the veterinarian can correct hip dysplasia with a hip replacement and cranial cruciate ligament tear can be resolved with TPLO surgery, there is as yet, no joint modification/replacement option available to correct elbow dysplasia; surgery is generally palliative in nature. Arthroscopic surgery is sometimes recommended for young dogs who are candidates for surgical “clean-up”of bone fragments, calcium deposits, etc. Our dog Billy suffered for many years with elbow dysplasia and despite several arthroscopic surgeries, it became a significant hindrance to his experiencing quality of life. Our “Costs” page discusses the expense incurred for these arthroscopic procedures.
What is unfathomable to us is that clearly the research shows the three orthopedic conditions explored on this site (i.e., hip dysplasia, cranial cruciate ligament tear and elbow dysplasia) are a predictable outcome of conventional spay/neuter. We ask, “Why haven’t tubal ligation and vasectomy become standard of practice so as to spare our dogs this pain and suffering?“