How to Recognize and Treat Canine Hip Dysplasia

How to Recognize and Treat Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

What is Canine Hip Dysplasia and How to Identify the Symptoms

Canine hip dysplasia (CHD) is a common inherited socket joint disease that affects the hip joint of dogs. This condition in dogs occurs when the hip joint does not develop properly, causing the joint to become loose and unstable. This leads to arthritis pain in dogs, which can greatly affect a dog's quality of life.

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The symptoms of Hip Dysplasia

The clinical signs of Hip Dysplasia (CHD) can vary depending on the severity of the condition and the age at which it is diagnosed. These symptoms often appear gradually and may not be noticeable until the dog is several months of age. Some common clinical signs of dogs with hip conditions include:

  • Limping: Dogs with Hip Dysplasia may limp on one or both hind legs, especially after exercise or long periods of rest.
  • Loss of muscle mass: Dogs with CHD may show significant body weight loss, especially in their hind legs due to disuse, which can make the condition worse over time. This is worse if they have pre-existing conditions.
  • Abnormal gait: Dogs with CHD may have an abnormal gait, such as a "bunny hop" where they use their front legs to push off the ground while keeping their hind legs close together.
  • Pain in Dogs: Dogs with CHD may show detectable signs of pain or discomfort, such as whining or crying, when touched around their hip area.
  • Difficulty climbing stairs or getting into the car: Dogs with CHD may have other detectable clinical signs such as difficulty climbing stairs or getting into the car because of the pain and discomfort in their hip joint.
  • Stiffness: Even in the absence of lameness dogs with hip conditions may have difficulty getting up from a lying position, or they may appear stiff or uncomfortable when moving.
  • Reluctance to exercise: Dogs with Hip Dysplasia may not want to play or go for walks as much as they used to, as the pain and discomfort associated with the condition can make physical activity less appealing. 

What Causes Canine Hip Dysplasia

Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD) is a hereditary condition, which means that it is passed down from parents to their offspring. It occurs when the hip joint does not develop properly, causing the joint to become loose and unstable. This leads to arthritis and chronic pain, which can greatly affect a dog's quality of life.

The exact cause of CHD is not fully understood, but it is thought to be a result of a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some breeds, such as German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, and Golden Retrievers, are more prone to developing CHD than others.

Genetic predisposition is a significant risk factor in the development of CHD, as certain genes have been identified as being associated with the disorder. However, environmental factors also play a role, such as nutrition and exercise. Rapid growth during puppyhood, overfeeding, and a lack of exercise can contribute to the development of CHD by putting extra stress on the developing hip joints.

Pet owners should also note that nutrition can be a big factor, as some studies suggest that a diet high in calories and protein during the growth phase of the dog can contribute to the development of hip dysplasia. Therefore, it's important to provide a balanced diet and avoid overfeeding, as well as not letting the puppy gain excess weight.

Overall, while CHD is an inherited disorder, proper breeding practices, proper nutrition, and exercise can help reduce the risk of a dog developing the condition by building proper muscle strength. 

Diagnosis of Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD)

The most common method of diagnosing CHD is through radiographs (x-rays) of the hip joint. These radiographs can show the degree of hip joint laxity and arthritis, which can help your veterinarian determine the best course of treatment for your dog.

Other diagnostic methods that may be used include:

  • Physical examination: Typical of any painful condition your veterinarian will examine your dog for clinical signs of lameness, stiffness, and assessment of pain in the hip joint.
  • Orthopedic examination: This examination will assess your dog's range of motion and muscle mass in the hind legs.
  • Blood tests: Blood tests can help rule out other conditions that may cause similar symptoms, such as osteoarthritis.
  • CT or MRI: These imaging techniques can provide detailed images of the hip joint and can help to identify the early stages of CHD. 

Managing Canine Hip Dysplasia

Managing Canine Hip Dysplasia

Treatment for hip dysplasia depends on the severity of the condition and the age of onset. These include:

#1. Conservative Management

Conservative management has been used for many years to manage canine pain. Conservative In mild cases, treatment may include weight management, exercise modification, and the use of anti-inflammatory medication to manage pain and inflammation. Proper conservative management can help to slow the progression of the condition and improve your dog's quality of life.

#2. Surgical Options

In more severe cases, veterinary surgery may be necessary to correct the hip joint. The most common surgical procedures used to treat CHD include:

  • Total Hip Replacement (THR) replaces the diseased hip socket with an artificial joint. This is used in severe conditions where replacement is the only cure for hip dysplasia.
  • Triple Pelvic Osteotomy (TPO) is a veterinary surgery which involves cutting and repositioning the pelvis to improve the alignment of the hip joint.
  • Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis (JPS) is performed in young dogs to correct the angle of the hip socket and prevent the development of CHD.
  • Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO) is typically recommended for dogs with mild to moderate hip dysplasia that are not candidates for total hip replacement surgery.

It's important to note that surgery is not suitable for every dog and the best option depends on the severity of the condition, the age of the dog and the overall health. A veterinarian will be able to guide you in the best course of action for your dog determining whether they are a candidate for surgery. 

#3. Medical Therapy and Laser Therapy for dogs with Hip Dysplasia

In addition to surgical options, there are also medical and laser therapy options available for treating canine hip dysplasia. These can be used in conjunction with surgical options, or as a standalone treatment for mild cases of the condition.

Treatment regimen for hip dysplasia typically includes the long-term use of anti-inflammatory and pain management medications, physical therapy regimen, conservative therapy among other alternative therapies. These can help to reduce pain and inflammation in the hip joint, allowing the dog to move more comfortably. Commonly used medications include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids.

Laser therapy is also a treatment option for hip dysplasia. This therapy uses a laser to deliver light energy to the affected tissue, which can help to reduce inflammation and pain and promote healing. It is non-invasive, has no side effects and can be used in combination with other treatments for canine pain.

It's important to work closely with your veterinarian to develop a treatment plan that is best for your dog. Regular follow-up appointments and radiographs will be necessary to monitor the disease progression and adjust the treatment plan as needed. 

Preventing Canine Hip Dysplasia

Preventing Hip Dysplasia in dogs is a multi-faceted approach that promote a healthy life including proper breeding practices, proper nutrition, and exercise.

Here are a few ways to prevent CHD:

  • Exercise routine: Regular exercise routines can help to strengthen the muscles around the hip joint and promote proper development. However, it's important not to overdo it and avoid high-impact activities that can put extra stress on the developing hip joint.
  • Weight management: Keeping your dog at a healthy weight can help to reduce the stress on the hip joint and slow the progression of CHD.
  • Responsible breeding: CHD is an inherited disorder, so it is important to only breed dogs that have been cleared of the condition through hip dysplasia certification programs, such as the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) or the PennHIP method. Breeding dogs that are less prone to the disorder and have good hip scores can also help to reduce the risk of CHD in their offspring.
  • Proper nutrition: During the growth phase of the dog, it's important to provide a balanced diet and avoid overfeeding. A diet high in calories and protein during this stage can contribute to dysplasia in dogs. A veterinarian can guide you in providing the appropriate diet for your dog's growth and development.

It's also worth noting that early detection and treatment of CHD can greatly improve the outcome for affected dogs. If you suspect that your dog may have CHD, it is important to consult with a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Overall, preventing CHD is a combination of genetics and environmental factors. By following the above-mentioned steps, you can reduce the risk of your dog developing this condition and improve the overall quality of life for your pet. 

Breeds with High Risk of Hip Dysplasia (CHD)

Preventing Canine Hip Dysplasia

CHD is a genetic disease that affects many breeds of dogs, but it is most commonly found in giant breed dogs such as German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Rottweilers, Great Danes, Saint Bernards, Bernese Mountain Dogs, Newfoundlands, Old English Sheepdogs, and Mastiffs. These breeds have a higher likelihood of developing CHD due to the genetic makeup of the breed and the size and weight of the dogs.

However, it's important to note that CHD can occur in any breed of dog. Smaller breeds such as the Pomeranian, Shih Tzu, Bichon Frise, and Pekingese can also be affected by CHD, although it is less common than in larger breeds. This is because CHD is a complex genetic disorder that is influenced by multiple genes and environmental factors.

Environmental factors such as diet, exercise, and weight management can also contribute to the risk of complications, regardless of breed. This is why it is important to work with a veterinarian to develop a breeding, nutrition and exercise plan to prevent excessive weight gain that will reduce the risk of CHD in your dog.

To help prevent CHD, it is important to select breeding stock from parents and grandparents that have been cleared of CHD through hip dysplasia certification programs, such as the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) or the PennHIP method. These programs use radiographic evaluations to determine the presence and severity of CHD in dogs.

Regular check-ups and radiographs are also important to detect the disease early on and provide the best possible outcome for your pet. This will help you make informed decisions about breeding, diet, exercise, and overall care for your dog. 

What is the lifespan of a dog with hip dysplasia?

The life expectancy of a dog with hip dysplasia depends on the severity of the condition, the dog's overall health, and the type of treatment that is received. In mild cases, dogs can live a relatively normal life with proper management and joint supplements that offer pain relief. However, in severe degrees of affliction, hip dysplasia can significantly impact a dog's quality of life and mobility.

If left untreated, hip dysplasia can lead to arthritis, pain, and lameness, which can greatly reduce a dog's lifespan. Dogs with chronic conditions and severe pain from hip dysplasia may become unable to walk or stand and may experience significant pain and discomfort. With a severe degree of affliction, the dog's quality of life may be so poor that euthanasia may be considered to prevent further suffering.

Treatment options such as weight management, physical therapy, and medication can help to manage joint pain and inflammation, and surgery can be used to correct the hip joint and improve mobility.

Early diagnosis and treatment can help to slow the progression of the disease and improve the dog's quality of life. Therefore, regular check-ups and radiographs are important to detect the disease early on and provide the best possible outcome for your pet. Connect With Us


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