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Understanding Hip Dysplasia

If you think your dog may have hip dysplasia, here are some basics you should know about the disease including the most common symptoms and treatment

What is Hip Dysplasia

It is the malformation of a dog’s hip joint. A dog’s hip joint is composed of a ball and socket joint. To give you a better idea, a human hip joint is also a ball and socket joint. As with our hip joint, range of movement can be done more or less in a circular motion.

The motion, under normal conditions, is smooth as if the ball and socket are sliding on each other. When hip dysplasia happens in dogs the ball and socket are not formed properly and because of this, instead of a sliding motion during movement, there is a rubbing and grinding of the joint. This is very painful especially when moving the back legs. 

How Dogs Get Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is probably the most common skeletal problem that dogs get. Large and giant breeds are the most prone to get it but it can also occur in small breed dogs. Gender is not a factor as both male and female dogs may be diagnosed with the disease. Genetics is considered a very big factor as it seems dogs with parents who have had the disease are more prone to also getting it. German Shepherds, Great Danes, and St. Bernard’s are some of the breeds prone to hip dysplasia.

Because genetics is a key factor in predisposition, hip dysplasia onset may occur early, even as young as four months old. Much older dogs may also get it as a result of other health problems such as osteoarthritis. Obesity and lack of exercise are also considered as risk factors.

Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia 

Check your dogs for the following behavior:

  • Less active then usual
  • Has difficulty
    • getting up
    • running
    • jumping
    • climbing stairs
  • Weakening of back limbs
  • Hopping or swaying gait when walking or running
  • Back legs unnaturally close together when standing
  • Pain in hip joints
  • Grating sound when moving back limbs
  • Decreased range of motion in the hip joints
  • Loss of muscle mass in thigh muscles
  • Enlargement of shoulder muscles due to front limbs compensating for weakness of back limbs

Risk Factors of Hip Dysplasia

As we have already stated earlier, genetics is one major factor as well as size. Obesity and rapid weight gain is also a factor as well as lack of exercise.

If you suspect your dog may be suffering from hip dysplasia bring them immediately to your veterinarian for a check-up. Be prepared to give them details that will help in diagnosis such as health history, recent injuries and their parent’s history.

Treatment of Hip Dysplasia

Treatment may include weight reduction, physical therapy, medications for pain relief, acupuncture and the use of dog wheelchairs. Treatment must be under the supervision or approval of your dog’s veterinarian.

This article was published on Monday 29 October, 2018.
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