Why does my lab have intermittent shoulder lameness and pain?

Our question this week was:

Dr. Debra – I LOVE your daily articles and look forward to them everyday. I also value your opinions and was wondering if you could possibly answer a medical question in regard to my yellow Lab. He will be three years old this past March 1 of this year and is rather large for his breed.

I have seen my vet and they have never found any problem. But just as of this winter every time he has an active day, at night he will start to limp from his left front shoulder.Only after he has been lying down for some time but after he gets up he is fine. He is on the top of the line joint supplements. It seems after my vet clips his nails, which I have done every 4 to six weeks he is fine for a while but then the problem returns. My vets have found no range of motion problems and he never limps when he is there. Can you possibly suggest what the problem maybe and what I should do. He has had x-rays which showed no abnormalities.

Michelle Michalek


Hi – thanks for your email and kind words Michelle. I'm glad you enjoy the articles. You asked for another opinion on why your 3-year-old yellow lab has intermittent left shoulder pain or lameness. You indicated that your veterinarian did radiographs and did not find any abnormalities.

Without examining your dog, I can't tell you for sure what is going on but the problem that I'd worry about the most is Osteochondrosis Dissecans in Dogs (OCD). This is a common problem in labs – especially young labs in the shoulder joint.

OCD describes a flap that forms as a result of this abnormal joint cartilage development. This flap of cartilage can cause pain and lameness.

You may take your dog back in to your vet and if the problem is persistent, consider seeing an orthopedic surgeon for a physical examination. They deal with this problem all the time and can possibly help diagnose the problem.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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