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Canine Hip Dysplasia
Hip dysplasia is a common joint condition of giant and large breed dogs. A malformation of the ball and socket joint where the thigh bone articulates with the pelvis, hip dysplasia can vary in its severity and symptoms. Hip dysplasia is a progressive condition and treatment options are available at all life stages to minimize pain and optimize quality of life.
Symptoms of hip dysplasia can include:
- Hip pain and decreased hip joint mobility
- Exercise intolerance
- Swaying of hips while walking
- Difficulty to stand from lying position
- Difficulty jumping or using stairs
- Loss of muscle mass in the hind legs
- Looseness of hip joint(young dogs)
Factors contributing to hip dysplasia include genetics, nutrition, environment, and injuries. Genetics is a primary piece of the puzzle, though inheritance patterns are not completely understood. I would not recommend dogs with abnormal hips or any other undesirable heritable conditions be used for breeding stock, as breeding these dogs can propagate the problem in future generations. More information on inherited deformities and available diagnostics can be found at the link listed at the end of this article.
Nutrition, especially during the first year of life, greatly impacts orthopedic conditions like hip socket development. No dietary short-cuts exist: poor nutrition affects all areas of health, including weight, skeletal growth, performance, and recovery from illness and injury. Your dog needs to have a diet that is appropriate for its breed, age, and nutritional needs. Consult with your regular veterinarian for tips and suggestions based on your dog’s unique needs.
Training injuries are not limited to the hip joint. High repetition and high impact training contribute to wear and tear of all joints. Permanent damage to cartilage and connective tissue can exacerbate pain in already abnormal joints and lead to the development of arthritis. Traumatic Injuries that occur outside of training can also affect hip joint mobility and health.
Many reputable dog breeders will have the hips of the breeding pair officially certified as “normal” by their veterinarians. Official certification can occur after 2 years of age, but dogs as young as 4 months old can have preliminary radiographs (x-rays) assessed. Evidence suggest these preliminary radiographs appear to accurately indicate future hip health and conformation. When purchasing a dog of any age, always have a complete exam performed by your veterinarian including age and breed appropriate diagnostic tests and vaccinations.
Multiple treatment options are available for hip dysplasia ranging from medical management to orthopedic surgery. The age of the dog, the severity of symptoms and impairment, and the financial resources available should all considered when deciding on the treatment plan. No matter which treatment is chosen, the goal is to minimize pain and discomfort for your furry companion. These options should be discussed with your regular veterinarian, who may refer you to a specialist for further discussion.
Hip dysplasia requires lifelong management despite which treatments are pursued. The sooner a diagnosis is made, the more options there are available for treatment and for slowing the progression of the condition.
For more information, check out this helpful website: Orthopedic Foundation for Animals- https://www.ofa.org
Image Credit: Mud River Facebook fan Teresa Bair
Amanda Burow, D.V.M. (Dr. B), is a graduate of Iowa State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Burow’s patient list includes hunting dogs of all varieties, as well as several field trial dogs and full time sporting guide dogs. In addition to practicing general veterinary medicine, she has special interest in the areas of preventive care, emergency medicine, and dermatology. In her spare time, she enjoys being outdoors and on the lake, staying active, reading, and spending time with family and friends.
Mud River is proud to share these tips from Dr. B with our customers. Keep in mind it is best to work with your local veterinarian to determine the needs for your animals.