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Hip dysplasia in dogs

Hip dysplasia is an arthritic disease associated with the hip joint that is prone towards affecting certain breeds of dogs. Hip dysplasia has been shown to be a genetically inherited condition that appears to affect a variety of breeds, including Great Danes, Rottweilers, St. Bernards, German Shepherds, and Golden Retrievers. The pain associated with hip dysplasia can vary from mild pain to severe and debilitating pain.

In addition to genetics, weight and diet play an important role in the development of this condition. Proper weight is essential for preventing joint related issues such as hip dysplasia. Nutrition then plays a two important parts in both controlling your dog’s weight and ensuring that the dog has the nutrition necessary to support healthy joints.

Dogs that develop hip dysplasia can begin to develop in puppies as young as five months of age but more often develop it after a few years or in their old age. Sometimes, the condition will not affect them until they have reached old age. However, once a dog develops hip dysplasia, she then becomes prone to other related joint injuries, such as arthritis.1

Symptoms:
The symptoms of hip dysplasia can become evident even in younger dogs less than a year old. More commonly, symptoms are progressive and onset is in middle age to older dogs. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Stiffness or pain when getting up after a period of rest
  • Unusual stance or walking in an abnormal manner (i.e. "bunny hopping")
  • Avoiding stair-climbing or jumping
  • Decreased activity
  • Grating detected with joint movement
  • Loss of muscle mass in thigh muscles
  • Larger shoulder muscles (due to weight shift when walking off of rear joints)


  • Diagnosis
    If you suspect that your dog has hip dysplasia, the first step is a visit to the veterinarian. The veterinarian will begin with a standard physical exam which might include urinalysis, a blood chemical profile, an electrolyte panel, and a blood count. He may also look over your dog’s medical records and their family history to determine if your dog is genetically prone to developing this disease.

    Depending on these results they may suggest further diagnostic procedures such as X-rays, which would help confirm their analysis with an image of the joint in question. An abnormal contour or appearance associated with the hip joint would support the diagnosis of hip dysplasia. 1

    Treatment
    Current treatments for hip dysplasia vary from medical treatment with drugs to extensive surgical procedures such as triple pelvic osteotomy (TPO), femoral head ostectomy (FHO) and total hip replacement. TPO is a common procedure in younger dogs that have been diagnosed with hip dysplasia.

    TPO reconstructs the pelvis by creating three cuts in the bone to allow a rotation of the femoral head and to push it deeper into the socket. Placing the bone deeper into the socket allows it to act as a normal pelvis after healing. Before the surgery, the dog must be shaven and have the affected area cleaned to prevent infection. The surgery often requires anesthetics to put the dog under during surgery.3

    FHO is a similar procedure to TPO but instead of resetting the head, it is removed completely. Thus, FHO is a bit less effective seeing as the joint never fully heals but rather is replaced by a pseudo-joint in which there is no bone-to-bone contact. This prevents the animal from suffering from the pain of two bones grating but requires that they maintain a low weight for the rest of their lives.4

    Total hip replacement entails removing parts of your dog’s bone and replacing it with prosthetics made with metal alloy and medical bone cement. Though this is a procedure that is effective on more than 95% of patients, there are some restrictions on which dogs are able to undergo the procedure. For instance, it can only be performed on dogs that have no additional joint problems or nerve diseases. She must be above nine months of age and have the appropriate medical history. You veterinarian will determine if this or one of the other two options is the correct one for your dog.5

    Prevention
    Many veterinarians are advocating the use of nutritional supplements for joints which contain glucosamine. These supplements have been shown to help reduce the severity of the arthritis and improve the joint integrity by providing the basic building blocks required for joint healing.

    Joint MAX Regular Strength, Joint MAX Double Strength and Joint MAX Triple Strength are some of our top supplements providing both glucosamine and chondroitin in each tablet. They also contain zinc, Vitamin C, and N-acetyl-cysteine for added joint support. No prescription is needed. Weight control is important as well in preventing development and in treatment of hip dysplasia. It is advised that you keep your pet in lean body condition. Overfeeding should be avoided.

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