Canine Hip Dysplasia
Canine Hip Dysplasia is the cause of much discomfort and can lead to crippling a once vibrant and youthful dog. Caused by abnormal hip sockets; hip dysplasia is a genetic trait that essentially causes an extreme looseness of the joint or the joint becomes deteriorated through years of use and eventually the function of the joint is totally lost. Hip dysplasia is exceedingly common amongst dogs; especially larger dogs like Great Danes, Labradors, German Shepherds, but can also affect smaller breeds.
If your dog is predisposed to hip dysplasia, you should watch for the symptoms of this genetic condition and avoid environmental factors that contribute to progression of early onset hip dysplasia. Rapid weight gain or carrying excessive weight for an extended times are two prime factors to monitor. You want to ensure your dog receives adequate nutrition, and maintains a healthy weight, in an effort to keep the effects of hip dysplasia in check. If necessary, place your dog on a proper diet to get his weight down. Some dogs have extreme looseness in their hip joints, resulting in hip dysplasia as early as four months old.
A key symptom that your dog may be dealing with hip dysplasia is difficulty moving. Your dog may have difficulty getting up from a laying position, or may wince at running, jumping or even climbing the stairs. Your dog may even try to avoid these movements. Your dog may also begin favoring the leg or legs where hip discomfort is felt, causing enlarged muscles in the legs that are working harder on a daily basis, and the loss of muscles in the leg(s) that your dog is favoring.
There are several treatment options that range from surgery to physical therapy, and weight management to help maintain your dog’s ability to move with remarkably little to no pain. For young dogs experiencing hip dysplasia, veterinarians may perform a surgery to help rotate the hip joint into a better position or even consider fusing the joint with the dog’s pelvis to add stability to the joint. Surgery may be an option for older dogs, lending them a hip replacement. Typically, dogs with hip dysplasia are treated with physical therapy to help maintain a healthy range of motion and reduce joint stiffness. The goal is to keep your dog as active as possible without too much pain; swimming is often the activity of choice. Swimming offers a complete body workout without stressing a dog’s joints. A dog’s diet will need to be adjusted to help maintain a healthy weight with the dog’s lower activity level. Gaining weight will only worsen the pain and symptoms of hip dysplasia as more weight and stress will be placed on the joint. These are all treatments that can be discussed with your veterinarian after confirming that your dog is suffering from canine hip dysplasia.
Unfortunately, hip dysplasia is common in dogs, but through knowledge and early intervention, you can help make your dog’s life and joints as comfortable as possible. Staying on top of your dog’s health with regular veterinarian visits, and low-impact exercise you can do your part in helping your dog stay in optimum health for a long-lasting relationship with you!