Hip dysplasia is an inherited condition resulting from an improperly formed hip joint. Because the joint is loose, the dog’s leg bone moves around too much, causing painful wear and tear.
Some cases of hip dysplasia are so mild there are no symptoms, but if your dog seems stiff or sore in the hips when getting up, if he seems hesitant to exercise, stand on his hind legs or climb stairs, or if he’s limping or bunny-hopping, a visit to the vet is in order.
Each case is different, depending on the dog. Hip dysplasia can begin to develop in puppies of five months old and worsen as they age—or not show up at all until a dog has reached geriatric years. In many cases, though, the condition becomes visible in dogs in their middle or later years.
While hip dysplasia is a genetic condition affecting the ball and socket [inherited from a sire/dam pairing] it can be exacerbated if a puppy/young dog is over exercised in the rapid stage growth of its skeletal development.
An evaluation for hip dysplasia will likely include a physical examination, radiographs and manual tests on your dog’s hip.
Hip dysplasia commonly affects larger breeds of dogs, including German shepherds, Rottweilers, retrievers, Great Danes and St. Bernards. However, dogs of all breeds and all sizes are susceptible to this inherited condition.
Because hip dysplasia is caused by an inherited defect, there are no products that can prevent its development. There are several surgical options, including a complete hip replacement. However, a combination of healthy diet, maintaining a normal weight, exercise, massage, warm and dry sleeping areas, joint supplements, anti-inflammatories and pain-relieving medication can help manage the condition. Your vet will help you with a daily pain-relieving program that is right for your dog.
Talk to your dog’s veterinarian about a good exercise program. Walking and moderate running can help strengthen the muscles around the joint. Your vet may recommend that you try for two 20-minute walks each day—just be sure to let your dog set the pace. As a general rule, it’s smart to avoid jumping or running for long distances. If you can, consider letting your dog swim for exercise—swimming is excellent for the muscles surrounding their joints.
Weight plays an important role in the comfort of your dog’s hips. Extra weight can add stress to hip joints, so make sure your dog is on a healthy diet, especially if he’s a large breed. You can work with your vet to find the right eating regimen for your dog.
Talk to your vet about the following tips:
When a dog has hip dysplasia, the looseness of the hip can cause painful wear and tear on the joint that can result in arthritis. So if your dog has hip dysplasia, it’s important to keep up a daily regimen to relieve pain and help prevent the condition from progressing.