Hip dysplasia (HD) and elbow arthrosis (EA) are, despite extensive breeding programs, still causing problems in many dog breeds such as the Labrador Retriever. Among the environmental factors involved in developmental bone diseases, experimental studies show that overfeeding has proven to be detrimental in both hip (1–3) and elbow dysplasia (3). Over-supplementation of calcium has been shown to be a risk factor for osteochondrosis, one of the main constituents of EA, in both experimental (1) and epidemiological studies (4). In an epidemiological study published in 1992, Slater et al. (4) found that playing with other dogs might also be a risk factor for osteochondrosis dissecans in dogs.
To register data on demographics, diet, exercise, and weight in the Swedish dog population, a mail and telephone questionnaire was developed and validated (5). This tool was used in this study to evaluate the effects of risk factors for HD and EA in a defined population of Labradors.
Our research group is primarily investigating multifactorial diseases in dogs that are of comparative value to humans. The methods used for comparison are epidemiological and molecular genetic studies, making use of insurance data and population-based cases and controls matched by breed, sex, and age (6).
To identify environmental risk factors concerning demographics, diet, exercise, and weight for both HD and EA, 2 parallel epidemiological studies were performed.

PMID: 16772494

KEY WORDS: • hip dysplasia • elbow arthrosis • diet • exercise • weight • dog