Hip Dysplasia In Dogs

by Nicola Parry, DVM

Hip Dysplasia (HD) is a common, canine orthopedic condition that involves an abnormally formed hip joint. The hip joint is a “ball and socket” type joint, and in healthy animals the ball and socket should fit snugly against each other. In HD, however, the head of the femur (the ball) fits poorly in the acetabulum (the socket). This allows excessive movement to occur in the joint, resulting in inflammation, damage, and subsequent pain.

Although it can affect any dog breed, HD certainly occurs with a much higher frequency in larger breed dogs. Its exact cause is complex – it arises as a result of multiple factors, both hereditary and environmental. Contributing environmental influences are varied, but development of HD can be encouraged by factors such as repeated episodes of joint trauma, or rapid weight gain and growth rate due to excessive food intake.

5 Common Signs Of Hip Dysplasia

  • Lameness
  • Stiffness
  • Swaying hind limb gait
  • Reluctance to jump or climb stairs
  • Difficulty rising after lying down

5 Ways To Manage Hip Dysplasia

  • Weight Management

Your dog should be at an optimum weight to avoid excessive stress on the hip joint. If necessary, your veterinarian can help with a weight loss regime, as well as ensuring that your dog’s overall nutrition is properly balanced.

  • Exercise

Exercise is necessary, but should not be overdone. Lower impact forms, such as walking or swimming, are best. Running, however, should be avoided.

  • Pain Relief

Your veterinarian will help to effectively manage your dog’s pain by prescribing anti-inflammatory medication. However, you may want to try some all natural solutions before you start your dog on pharmaceuticals.

  • Arrest of Joint Damage

Various products, such as nutraceuticals, are available to help break the cycle of damaging changes in the hip joint, and thus slow disease progression. Collagen supplementation has also been shown to reduce pain and lameness in arthritic dogs, improving their overall activity. Joint Resolution is a non-pharmaceutical product that can help improve your dog’s mobility and flexibility. Its natural ingredients can be effective in reducing soreness and stiffness. One of its components is BioCell Collagen II which helps to rebuild new cartilage in damaged joints, and helps to reduce further joint damage.

  • Surgery

Specialized surgical procedures can help in severe cases. Various techniques are used, ranging from rearranging the pelvic bones or femoral head for more efficient joint function, to hip replacement.

If you should suspect that your dog has HD, have him checked immediately – an earlier diagnosis allows for more effective management of the condition. And although you can’t exactly prevent your dog from developing HD, or even cure it if it arises, there are certainly important ways in which you can contribute to effectively manage this complex condition. In this way you can help to keep him pain-free, and slow the progression of the disease and its associated osteoarthritis. Another important fact to remember is to avoid breeding your dog – given the genetic component of this disease, spaying or neutering of affected dogs can at least prevent the disease being passed on.

Nicola Parry is a veterinarian at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is ACVP board-certified and her career has taken her along various paths, including general practice and academia. She enjoys teaching veterinary pathology, as well as writing for the veterinary, medical and scientific worlds. She currently lives in Massachusetts with her oddball cat, Tiddles

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