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The Relationship Between High-Impact Exercise and Osteochondritis

Findings from a study on hip dysplasia and elbow arthrosis in Labrador Retrievers [Sallander, Hedhammer, and Trogen: J Nutr July 2006: 136(7 suppl):2050S-2052S] support the hypothesis that high-impact exercise such as ball chasing and fetching can lead to a higher incidence of osteochondrosis dissecans (OCD) lesions. OCD is an inflammation of the cartilage on the end of a bone in the joint that causes the cartilage to separate from the underlying bone (creating a lesion). This disease occurs during the rapid growth period (ages six to nine months) in medium- to large-breed dogs.

Although we know our patients like to play fetch and our clients use this activity as a way to burn off energy, this high-impact exercise isn’t good for puppies.

This study looked at two groups of puppies—those six months of age and those that were nine months. Puppies in each group were of the same size and were fed the same kind and amount of food. The only difference was the amount of...

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