Hip dysplasia is a common health issue that affects dogs. Some puppies as young as 6 to 12 months old start suffering from this disease. Others do not show signs until they are in their adult or senior years. Learn how to prevent and manage canine hip dysplasia through this article.
What is Hip Dysplasia in Dogs?
Hip dysplasia is a widespread skeletal problem in dogs. It occurs when the hip joint doesn’t develop properly causing deformity and arthritic changes. The ball and socket must grow at equal rates; otherwise, there will be looseness of the hip joint.
The ball and socket will grind and grate each other causing extreme discomfort and pain. Without immediate proper medical treatment, it can lead to immobility and lameness.
Is Hip Dysplasia in Dogs Hereditary?
Canine hip dysplasia is a hereditary condition that is often found in larger dog breeds. The following breeds are highly prone to developing hip dysplasia. Large mixed dog breeds are also susceptible to this health issue.
Small breeds are also at risk of having hip dysplasia. French Bulldogs and Pugs are predisposed to loose hip joints. This disease can develop in any dog regardless of their size or pedigree. Therefore, all dogs must undergo hip dysplasia testing.
What Causes Hip Dysplasia in Dogs?
Hip dysplasia is a complex hereditary disease that is caused by several factors. Below are the common reasons how dogs develop this health condition:
- Excessive weight gain
Studies have proven that overweight dogs are more likely to suffer from hip dysplasia. The same goes for puppies that gained too much weight. Thus, sufficient exercise and a healthy and balanced diet must be incorporated into your dog care routine.
- Improper diet and nutrition
Overfeeding and free feeding your dog must be avoided as they can lead to weight gain. Obesity increases the risk of developing hip dysplasia. Food being served to dogs, especially large breeds, should be carefully measured.
- Excessive exercise
Too much exercise, especially during puppyhood, can lead to hip dysplasia. The development and correct growth of the hip in dogs happen from birth until they reach 8 weeks old.
Puppies must not be subjected to strenuous activities around this age. Restrict them from climbing on stairs, jumping off furniture, and running long distances. Long walks should also be avoided.
Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs
Knowing the initial symptoms of canine hip dysplasia is very important as it can lead to early diagnosis and proper treatment before his condition worsens. Listed below are the early clinical signs of hip dysplasia that you should look out for:
- Difficulty in moving, jumping, running
- Low energy
- Bunny-hopping or swaying gait
- Pain when touched on the leg or pelvis area
- Feebleness of hind legs
- Decrease of thigh muscle mass
- Stiffness of limbs
How is Hip Dysplasia in Dogs Diagnosed?
If your dog is exhibiting these red flags, bring him to the vet immediately for diagnosis. The vet may perform a physical exam and perform a hip radiograph or X-ray on your dog. They will also ask for his health history to know the factors that may have contributed to the development of the disease.
The result of the radiograph will determine how severe your dog’s hip dysplasia is. This will aid the vet in finding the best treatment option for your dog. If you want your dog’s hip dysplasia to be assessed and scored by experts, you can check out the British Veterinary Association and Kennel Club’s hip dysplasia scheme. You can also search here for health results for a dog listed in the Breed Register of the Kennel Club.
How is Hip Dysplasia in Dogs Treated?
The type of treatment for a dog with dysplasia depends on several factors. Weight, age, the lifestyle of the dog owner, degree of hip laxity, and budget for the treatment must be taken into consideration. Lifestyle modifications and/or surgery may be required as treatments for canine hip dysplasia.
- Letting your dog go to physical therapy
Physical therapy has a lot of benefits for dogs with hip dysplasia. It reduces joint pains, promotes weight loss, adds muscle mass, and enhances mobility. Hydrotherapy, laser therapy, and manual therapy are great options you can explore. Make sure to consult the vet about it before starting.
- Giving your dog anti-inflammatory medications
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) effectively reduce joint pains in dogs. However, use it as instructed by the vet. Do not haphazardly give it to your dog. The wrong dosage may lead to negative side effects.
- Joint prescription diets
Consider switching to a specialised diet designed for dogs with hip dysplasia. You may ask the vet about the types of food to give your dog. Joint prescription diets help reduce inflammation and boost the healing of cartilage.
- Make him lose weight
Be sure to make your pooch maintain normal body weight. This will help lessen the strain on his hip joint. Measure his food portions before feeding him. Check his weight every week to monitor his progress.
- Limit your dog’s exercise and activities
Engage your dog in low-impact activities such as swimming and leash-walking. Limited exercise helps in strengthening his muscles and tendons. Stay away from hard surfaces like asphalt or concrete floors when walking your dog because they add pressure to his joints which can make his condition worse.
- Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis (JPS)
10-weeks-old puppies and younger that are diagnosed with hip dysplasia can be treated through JPS. This minor surgical procedure involves stopping the development of the pubis, which is a part of the pelvis. Doing so will change the shape and growth of the pelvis and reduce hip laxity.
- Double or triple pelvic osteotomy (DPO/TPO)
This is another option for puppies below 8 to 10 months old with hip dysplasia. Selective cutting of the pelvic bone and pivoting the segments are done during these procedures. They help in improving the mobility of the ball and socket joint.
- Femoral head ostectomy (FHO)
FHO surgery can be done on both young and adult dogs. This involves removing the ball of the hip joint. It leads the body to develop a false joint which lessens the pain and discomfort brought by hip dysplasia.
- Total hip replacement (THR)
A dog with hip dysplasia may need to undergo THR if he cannot be successfully treated by JPS or DPO/TPO. He must be around 1-year-old to have this surgery.
The surgery requires removal of the whole joint is replaced with plastic and metal implants. This eliminates the pain and discomfort of hip dysplasia. Moreover, the hip’s mobility returns to normal.
How Do I Manage Canine Hip Dysplasia?
There are many ways to help alleviate the irritation and soreness your dog feels due to hip dysplasia. Below are simple tips that you can follow to relieve his aches and pains:
Give him at least 10-minute massages. Gently knead and rub your fingertips on the muscles surrounding his hip joints. Avoid continuing the massage if your dog shows signs of pain or discomfort.
Do not expose your dog to humid and cold weather as it can aggravate his joint pains. If you need to take him for a walk during rainy or snowy days, let him wear booties to prevent slipping.
Consider giving him an orthopaedic dog bed. It provides proper support for his muscles and joints and evenly distributes his weight, thus, there is less strain on his joints as he sleeps.
Your dog may find it difficult to walk on slippery surfaces. Place traction such as rugs, carpets, or mats on slippery areas in your home. This will make it easier for him to move around whilst avoiding accidents.
How to Prevent Hip Dysplasia in Dogs?
Preventive measures should start during your dog’s puppyhood. This will greatly help in making him less susceptible to hip dysplasia. Listed below are some ways to prevent your dog from developing this disease:
- Do your research.
For those who are looking for a new dog, make sure to do thorough research related to the breed you want. Remember that some dogs are more prone to hip dysplasia than others. It is also crucial to search for a reputable breeder that provides necessary health tests including ones for hip dysplasia.
- Provide your dog with a balanced and healthy diet.
Feed him appropriate amounts of food and avoid overfeeding. Stay away from high fat, high calorie, and high protein diet. This spurs rapid bone growth which triggers genetic health issues such as hip dysplasia.
- Give him a suitable exercise regime.
Ask the vet to help you put together a suitable exercise regimen for your dog. Limit walks and avoid excessive running. Jumping should also be minimised as it puts pressure on his hip joints.