Orthopedic Foundation for Animals is one of the first, and longest running organizations dedicated to the advancement of canine health (particularly breeding standards, regulations, and tests). The OFA was originally founded in 1966 as a not for profit organization and has focused its research particularly on hip dysplasia but also has a strong mission statement “To improve the health and well being of companion animals through a reduction in the incidence of genetic disease.” in general.
The OFA has the largest database of confirmed dysplastic dogs and uses their information to further their pursuit to completely rid dogs from hip dysplasia. The criteria for evaluating the test results for each database were independently established by veterinary scientists from their respective specialty areas, and the standards used are generally accepted throughout the world. When the OFA first formed, an overwhelming acceptance between the veterinary community, the Golden Retriever Club of America, and the German Shepherd Dog Club of America to create an organization to set a standard for breeders and actively study the development and effects of hip dysplasia. Now, OFA is the leading force establishing controlled programs to lower the incidence of inherited disease.
When it comes to hip dysplasia, OFA offers a lot of support in the prevention and diagnosis of the disease. The radiographic procedures used by OFA are that of the American Veterinary Medical Association in which the animal must be placed on its back in dorsal recumbency with the rear limbs extended and parallel to each other. The knees are rotated internally and the pelvis is symmetric. Typically, anesthesia is recommended to the point of muscle relaxation to ease the process of positioning the dog and maintaining that position during the x-ray. It is recommended not to pursue tests if your dog is pregnant due to possible increased joint laxity from hormonal variations.
During an OFA radiographic x-ray screening, three randomly assigned certified veterinary radiologists examine and rate several different anatomic areas of the hip keeping in mind the age, sex, and breed of the dog at hand:
- Craniolateral acetabular rim
- Cranial acetabular margin
- Femoral head (hip ball)
- Fovea capitus (the normal flattened area on hip ball)
- Acetabular notch
- Caudal acetabular rim
- Dorsal acetabular margin
- Junction of femoral head and neck
- Trochanteric fossa
While observing, they are specifically looking for abnormalities or deviations in the developing hip compared to the typical alignment of the breed. The degree of fit or looseness of the hip is also very important and is the leading issue for dogs who develop symptoms of hip dysplasia later in life. The radiologist grades the hips different physical hip conformations: normal which includes excellent, good, or fair classifications, borderline or dysplastic which includes mild, moderate, or severe classifications.
Over 1 million radiographs have been examined resulting in an over 90% success rate of correctly grading the signs for developing hip dysplasia. If a dog passes with normal hips, they are given an OFA number and this information is accepted by AKC on dogs with permanent identification and is one stepper closer to having proper identification for breeding or just the knowledge that your dog is dysplasia free.
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