By Karen A. Soukiasian
Hip dysplasia is frequently a painful, crippling genetic, developmental orthopedic disease. The sloppy breeding of two dysplastic parents is mainly the cause for the disease to be so rampant. Most often found in larger breeds, smaller breed dogs are also susceptible to receiving the defective genes.
What is hip dysplasia?
Hip dysplasia occurs in the “ball and socket” joint of the dog. When the “ball” does not fit tight in the “socket,” it causes friction, inflammation, cartilage damage, and pain. It can and does often lead to arthritis so crippling, surgery or euthanasia are the only options.
There are two types of hip dysplasia: acute and chronic. Acute (early) is usually observed in young dogs, noted by severe pain in the hips and lameness. In the acute stage, symptoms can last from a few weeks to months.
Chronic (late) commonly appears in older dogs. However, it can appear in dogs less than a year old. The dog appears in pain, has less range of motion of their hips, plus, arthritis has usually set in, and is progressing.
Hip dysplasia warning signs
Lameness or limping after exercise or walks, waddling/swaying gait, difficulty standing up, stiffness especially on cold, damp days, moodiness, unenthusiastic to move, protective of hip area, and decreased range of motion around hips are all warning signs.
Hip dysplasia diagnosis
Your veterinarian can diagnose it through a physical examination, PennHIP x-ray, CT scans, and ultrasound.
The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) recommends the hip-extended ventrodorsal view x-ray. With that, your veterinarian can get a frontal view of the hip joints and pelvis. This procedure is most widely used by veterinarians as the view also helps determine if the dog has arthritis and the severity of the condition.
Depending on the degree of damage, there are a number of options. They include: weight loss, change of diet, physical therapy, limited exercise, anti-inflammatory medications, pain medication and surgery.
In severe cases, where the animal is severely crippled beyond hope, euthanasia is at times recommended.
Preventing hip dysplasia
Before purchasing a dog, make sure the breeder is reputable! Ask for a copy of all documentation that the parents are PennHIP x-rayed and OFA certified.
Feed large breed puppies food customized to their needs. Feeding high protein, over supplemented food, can invite problems later on.
Do not overfeed your dog.
Do not let them jump in and out of your vehicle, especially SUVs and trucks. Provide a ramp.
Limit excessive weight-bearing exercise. Swimming is a great way to exercise any dog, especially at-risk breeds.
Do not allow at-risk breeds to jump on and off furniture, decks, porches, etc.
Do not allow at-risk breeds to jump for balls, toys or Frisbees.
Have your puppy x-rayed when they are around six months old.
Breeds genetically predisposed to hip dysplasia include but are not limited to: Afghan Hound, Airdale, Akita, Alaskan Malamute, American Eskimo Dog, American Staffordshire Terrier, Australian Cattle Dog, Australian Shepherd, Beagle, Bearded Collie, Belgian Malinois, Belgian Sheepdog, Belgian Tervuren, Bernese Mountain Dog, Black and Tan Coonhound, Bloodhound, Border Collie, Bouvier des Flandres, Briard, Bullmastiff, Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chinook, Clumberland Spaniel, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Curley Coated Retriever, Chow Chow, Doberman Pincher, Dalmatian, English Setter, English Springer Spaniel, English Shepherd, Finish Spitz, Flat Coated Retriever, Field Spaniel, German Shorthaired Pointer, German Wirehaired Pointer, Golden Retriever, Gordon Setter, Giant Schnauzer, Great Dane, Great Pyrenees, German Shepherd, Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, Irish Setter, Irish Water Spaniel, Irish Wolfhound, Keeshond, Komondor, Labrador Retriever, Mastiff, Newfoundland, Norwegian Elkhound, Norwegian Buhund, Norwegian Elkhound, Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, Old English Mastiff, Old English Sheepdog, Otterhound, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Pointer, Portuguese Water Dog, Puli, Rhodesian Ridgeback, Rottweiler, Saint Bernard, Samoyed, Shiba Inu, Siberian Husky, Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier, Standard Poodle, Standard Schnauzer, Tibetian Terrier, Vizsla, Weimaraner and Wirehaired Pointing Griffon.
Bottom line: Hip dysplasia is a painful, debilitating, disease. Do your homework, educate yourself on what to look for, take necessary precautions, use common sense but most importantly; enjoy your dog!
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