What is hip dysplasia in dogs?
Hip dysplasia in dogs is a genetic condition in which the hip joints develop abnormally. Puppies are born with structurally normal ball joints, but within the first few weeks of life, the ligaments that support the hip joints go limp. The joints then become less stable and can perform slight movements that would not occur in a healthy person.
This instability leads to the development of further structural changes, such as. B. a flattening of the “ball” part of the joint. Means that the ball and pan do not fit together as they should. Therefore, the two can move out of the correct orientation and even lead to a slight displacement.
Most pets have dysplasia in both hip joints, and all dogs develop some degree of osteoarthritis at some point in their lives. Although hip dysplasia is genetic, there are several genes that can lead to the disease, and not all pets with these genes develop the disease. Environmental factors can make the problem worse, but they can only cause the disease if there is a predisposing gene.
Symptoms of hip dysplasia in dogs
Hip dysplasia is more common in larger breed dogs, although it can occur in any breed. The disease is usually diagnosed between the ages of 6 and 12 months and the symptoms appear at different stages depending on the person. Look for signs that your dog is a little restless or has trouble getting up. Affected dogs often have greater difficulty walking up and downstairs because the weight distribution through the hind legs is greater when climbing. Depending on the severity of the condition, these are some of the most common symptoms of hip dysplasia in dogs:
- Unwillingness to go for a walk or play sports
- Reduced level of activity
- Bunny hopping or other abnormal gaits
- Less toned thigh muscles
- Pain in some cases
If you notice any of these signs, do not hesitate to contact your veterinarian for diagnosis.
What causes hip dysplasia in dogs?
Hip dysplasia in dogs is a genetic disorder. It is unclear why some people develop clinical symptoms with the genes and others do not, but it cannot be prevented. However, there are environmental and nutritional factors that can make the condition worse. For example, your dog’s rapid weight gain can make your pet’s hip dysplasia more painful.
Are there dog breeds that are more predisposed to hip dysplasia?
Hip dysplasia is more common in larger dog breeds such as St. Bernards, Great Danes, Greyhounds or Golden Retrievers. However, cases have been reported for all races and sizes.
How is hip dysplasia diagnosed in dogs?
The veterinarian will examine your dog for signs of gait disorders or signs such as pain on the hip exam. Your veterinarian will usually recommend X-rays to look for signs of structural changes in the joint, although they may not be visible in all cases. Your pet can be referred to an orthopedic surgeon for further check-ups.
Treatment of hip dysplasia in dogs
Hip dysplasia cannot be cured, but there are a number of management and medical options that may be suitable for your pet. Some people are good candidates for surgery and can even have their hip removed. Here are some of the options your vet might recommend:
Maintaining a normal weight
Weight control is one of the first things to consider if your dog has been diagnosed with hip dysplasia. The less your dog’s hips are strained, the better. Therefore, a reduction in body mass, especially that of your dog, is overweight. This is one of the first measures. Find out more about healthy dog weight and body condition in our detailed article here.
Careful handling of your pet’s exercise program is also recommended. This does not mean that your daily walks with your dog have ended. On the contrary – walks are an important part of muscle building (unless otherwise recommended by the veterinarian). Go for shorter walks twice a day than a long one, and stick to a regular exercise routine. Some of the things you should avoid are jumps, very long walks, or runs.
To help a dog with hip dysplasia, ask your veterinarian if hydrotherapy or swimming could be included in the routine. This can help strengthen the muscles around the affected joint, while the water carries part of your dog’s weight.
If your pet has problems, do not think they have to live with the discomfort. The veterinarian may recommend appropriate medications, such as anti-inflammatories, that can help relieve pain in a dog with hip dysplasia.
Physiotherapy can be beneficial, and it is worth asking your veterinarian if this is suitable for your pet and which veterinary physiotherapists recommend.
In some cases, your dog may need to have hip surgery. There are different types of surgeries, some aimed to improve ball and socket alignment, while others offer a full hip replacement. The veterinarian will recommend the best surgical treatment for your dog’s condition.
Dogs with hip dysplasia can live comfortably into their golden years. Even if your dear dog has been diagnosed with the disease, you can expect many happy years together. If your dog is older than 7 years, he may need additional support as he gets older.