Medical Issues: Hip Dysplasia in Dogs
Dogs are very playful and tend to move around a lot. They love to jump, catch toys, and run around at the dog park. Unfortunately, your dog may start to lose mobility as he ages or through the development of a medical condition, and it can be difficult for him to adjust to a new life that isn’t as active. If your dog is younger or a prone breed, his days of moving about easily might be cut short by a condition called hip dysplasia. It’s a very common ailment, and some breeds are more susceptible than others. If your furry friend has been diagnosed with it, you might be interested in learning more about hip dysplasia in dogs. Read on to gain a better understanding of this condition.
What Is Hip Dysplasia?
This is a medical condition that results from an abnormal structure of the dog’s hip joints caused by loosening or separating of ligaments, connective tissues, and the muscles that support the joints. It’s normally congenital. In most cases of hip dysplasia, dogs are born with malformed hip joints. As they age, their femurs separate farther and farther from their pelvic sockets and these bones move around much more than they should. In turn, their daily movements cause abnormal wear and tear on their joints, which can start dislocating frequently. This condition can occur in one or both hips.
When it comes to dogs, larger animals are more likely to have this disease. Dog breeds like Labrador Retrievers, Great Danes, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Saint Bernards, and Golden Retrievers are prone to developing this condition. On the other hand, lighter dogs like Greyhounds are less likely to experience it. Unfortunately, any dog can experience hip dysplasia, especially if he has a parent who suffered from it.
Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia
Even very young puppies can experience this medical condition, and it only worsens as they age if it’s left untreated. There are cases in which symptoms will start to manifest when the dog is older as well. There is nothing you can do to prevent it from developing, as it’s inherited, but when you start to notice the signs and symptoms, your vet can confirm a diagnosis.
At first onset, the symptoms are the same as those of arthritis. You might notice that your dog seems to have trouble standing up after lying down or that he’s hesitant to walk up stairs. This can progress to a general resistance to exercise, and your dog might start limping when he walks. Another thing that you might notice is that your dog’s rear leg or legs look stiff after exercise or movement. When he’s climbing stairs or simply walking about, you may observe that he’s having a hard time.
How Is Hip Dysplasia Diagnosed?
If you notice that your dog has the signs and symptoms of hip dysplasia, it’s important that you take him to your vet. The diagnosis is done through the use of various examinations. Often, the doctor can diagnose the condition through an X-ray, but he will likely also manipulate your dog’s legs and have him walk around. There are several methods of treatment that may also involve handling an underlying case of arthritis.
In treating this condition, your dog may have to undergo a surgical procedure. The type of treatment that your dog needs will vary depending on the severity of the problem and your dog’s age, body, and size.
Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis: This is a surgical treatment that fuses the pelvic bones to correct the hip angles, and it’s done on puppies who are born with the disorder. In turn, the articulation of the joint gets better as the dog grows. Before this treatment is conducted, there should be early diagnosis, as the procedure must be done before a dog is 20 weeks old.
Triple Pelvic Osteotomy: This procedure is done on dogs 10 months old or younger. Once the doctor sees the results of the radiograph showing that the dog has hip dysplasia, he may elect to perform this surgery that realigns the joints and corrects the degree of dislocation. This treatment works best on younger dogs because they haven’t developed arthritis yet. It has about a 90-percent success rate if it’s performed early enough.
Total Hip Replacement: If your dog has chronic hip dysplasia, the vet may have him undergo a total hip replacement procedure. It replaces the incorrect joint with a prosthetic joint and removes the degenerative changes. This surgery is used on older dogs because it requires that they have fully grown skeletons; a puppy will quickly outgrow an artificial hip. Total hip replacement is also an expensive procedure. But the good thing with this option is that it offers the best results. Once the procedure is done, your dog can go back to his normal activity or routine without experiencing any pain whatsoever after several months.
Apart from surgical procedures, there are also medical treatments available. With the availability of newly developed and innovative drugs, the condition of a dog suffering from hip dysplasia can greatly improve. With the right diet, supplements, and pain management, your dog doesn’t have to suffer from degenerative joint disease. Vets typically offer oral and injectable medications for hip dysplasia.
Because surgeries can be really expensive, medical management is one of the favored options among pet owners, as long as your dog is older and his leg doesn’t completely dislocate. To get the best results, you have to consult your vet regarding the different treatments used.
One thing that can improve your dog’s condition is physical therapy. When your dog has regular exercise with a therapist, it’s easy to maintain an appropriate weight that won’t put pressure on the joint. Apart from that, gentle exercise like swimming can also improve the range of motion as well as build muscle in the leg. Be sure to choose low-impact activities; overdoing things can cause harm. Physical therapy and massage can also relax your dog’s muscles. If your pet has hip dysplasia, he may experience stiffness often. Therapies and massage can promote the motion of the joints. Lastly, keeping your dog warm can also help keep his muscles relaxed. Before you do any massage or physical therapy, talk to your vet about the best options.