Dog hip dysplasia is a disease found in canines which causes the hip joints to form abnormally. A kind of dog arthritis, this condition results in loose joints in the hip area making it extremely difficult and painful for the dog to move. Simply put, it is when the hips of a dog do not fit together properly resulting in dog joint pain.
Dog hip dysplasia affects all kinds of canines, although it’s more common in dogs of larger breed, and even more in purebred dogs. Some of the most likely breeds to get hip dysplasia are great Danes, Rottweilers, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, St. Bernards and Mastiffs. However sight hounds such as Grey hounds seem to escape this horrible disease.
The pain a dog feels depends on the degree of separation in the joints. If there is partial dislocation of the thigh bone from the hip bone then this is called subluxation, and this may even cause the dog to feel mild or no pain. But if the thigh bone is completely dislocated from the hip socket, it is known as luxation, and this will cause extreme pain to the poor animal.
There are a number of factors that can cause a dog to get this disease.
Dog hip dysplasia can be inherited genetically, especially in bigger breeds of dogs. At times, this disease also skips generations, but the chances are increased for a dog if the disease is in its immediate ancestry. However genetics is not the only way, as it can also be developed overtime due to environmental factors.
Obesity in dogs has also been known to cause this type of dog arthritis, as overweight dogs have to carry more weight and this tends to wear out their hip joints. Obese dogs tend to get more hip related injuries.
Receiving too much calcium is also a cause of this condition, as the extra calcium can cause the growing process to speed up resulting in the bones not being able to form properly. Similarly too little calcium will also play a role is forming abnormal bones as well. Even over-exercising a dog at a young age can be a trigger of dog hip dysplasia as well.
There are some signs that can show that a canine has dog hip dysplasia.
1. Trouble Walking:
The main indication is when a dog has trouble walking or seems to be limping in one or both hind legs. However both of its rear legs will be affected by this, but it may show a limp on the most compromised side. The excruciating pain will not allow the dog to enjoy any of its usual activities such as running, playing or walking. It will also avoid jumping or walking up the stairs, and will have trouble getting up from lying or sitting down. There will also be pain in the rear/hip area.
2. Physical Changes:
Another huge indicator is the physical changes such as the wasting of muscles in the hip region, or underdeveloped thigh muscles. The shoulder muscle will grow as the dog will place the extra weight in this area which its hind legs will not be able to carry.
3. Hind Legs Cow-Hocked:
If a young pup is too slow to stand on all fours, or climb up the stairs or even jump, then this could indicate that it will grow up to develop dog hip dysplasia. Another strong indicator is if the hind legs of a pup are cow-hocked (similar to knock-kneed in humans).
X-Rays are the main tests for diagnosing this disease, but physical exams are also essential. The physical will allow the veterinarian to manually check the dog’s hip and the x-rays will show any signs of abnormalities.
To treat dog hip dysplasia, a combination of treatment is used. This includes joint supplements for dogs, pain medication, anti-inflammatory drugs, weight management, exercise and physical therapy. In more extreme cases, hip replacement surgery can also be an option.
Joint supplements for dogs such as glucosamine should be given to the dog, as this anti-inflammatory additive goes straight to the joints and helps regenerate cartilage. Exercise allows the weight of the dog to be controlled, thereby reducing the impact weight has on its hind legs.
If the breed of the dog is such that it is prone to develop dog hip dysplasia then steps should be taken to diminish the disease’s impact, although complete prevention may be hard. The canine must undergo enough exercise to keep a healthy weight as well as build its muscles properly so that there is less impact on its joints.
Care should be taken to feed the dog properly so that its diet doesn’t lack anything it needs and an ideal weight is kept. Dogs should be given joint supplements with calcium and phosphorus so that they develop healthy bones; also glucosamine supplements to heal any damage that could cause hip dysplasia or hip arthritis.
Avoid breeding dogs with this condition to minimize it. The dog must be kept warm, as cold weather tends to increase joint pains. Massage therapy can also play a role in helping the dog relax its stiff muscles.