Hip Dysplasia is one of the most well-known health problems when it comes to canines. While this joint problem most commonly effects large breeds, dogs of any size can be diagnosed. In this piece I’ll discuss the condition, what breeds are most at risk, treatment and what steps you can take if you are working with a breeder to try and make sure you get a healthy pup.

The Basics of Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia, also known as CHD results in the looseness of the dog’s hip joints. The muscles around the hip are unstable, making them unable to properly support the ball and socket of the hip. The ball and socket move apart (technically called subluxation), causing all the problems associated with Hip Dysplasia.

Symptoms include:

  • Wobbly gate
  • Limping or lameness
  • Dog moves in “bunny hops” (moving both back legs together)
  • Stiffness of the joints
  • Hesitance to climb stairs

While usually one hip is more severely affected, sometimes both hips can be Dysplastic.

Breeds Most Prone to Hip Dysplasia

  • German Shepherds
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Rottweilers
  • Mastiffs
  • Great Danes
  • Golden Retrievers
  • English Bulldogs
  • Basset Hounds
  • Pugs

While any dog can be affected by this condition, large dogs are more prone to Dysplasia.

Treatment of dogs with dysplastic hips can vary depending on the severity of the condition. Some dogs and puppies will be placed on joint supplements (including, but not limited to Glucosamine, MSM, Ester-C) to support mobilization, NSAIDS (cosequin, or adequan are commonly used) for pain relief and activity restriction. If a dog is overweight, slimming down can vastly improve their quality of life. Some individuals have had good luck with chiropractic and acupuncture treatments.

Surgical options for Hip Dysplasia

Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO): During this surgery the head of the femur is removed, thus relieving pain and creating a false joint between the femur and the acetabulum (hip bone).  There may be a change in a dog’s movement with this false joint, but most discomfort should be relieved.

Triple Pelvic Osteotomy (TPO): During this surgery the pelvis is cut in 3 places and rotated to give greater coverage to the head of the femur to solve the Dysplasia and relieve pain.  This is a very involved and specialized surgery.

Total Hip Replacement (THO): This is a very pricy surgery and isn’t an option for every owner.  In this operation the head and neck of the femur as well as the acetabulum is replaced.  This type of surgery can only be preformed on mature dogs, as the bones need to be strong enough to hold the artificial ball and socket.  The rate for complications after this procedure is slightly higher than for other surgeries of this type.

Causes and Prevention:

Hip Dysplasia has both a genetic and an environmental component.  If you are looking into purchasing a dog from a breeder, make sure their parents have been through OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) screening and/or PennHip.  Please note that adult dogs with normal hips can still produce puppies with bad hips.  Checking your puppy for Dysplasia can be done at 4-6 months of age with a simple x-ray while he is being spayed or neutered.

Environmental Factors For Puppies:

Keep puppies on the lean side – No, this does not mean UNDERFEEDING your puppy!  It just means that you shouldn’t overfeed and have a butterball turkey for a pup!  Rapid growth can contribute to hip problems, so feed a high qualitydiet free of fillers, sugars and artificial additives.

Take Exercise Slow – While puppy joints are still forming it is important that they are treated gently.  Jogging and running with your dog are a no-no until your pooch reaches maturity.  Don’t allow excessive high jumping – especially with larger and giant breeds.

Supplement Carefully- Supplementing with a mobility supplement duringpuppy hood can be a great choice, but stay away from extra calcium and phosphorus.

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