Any veterinarian will tell you that the most difficult and frustrating dog diseases are “Canine hip dysplasia. Canine hip dysplasia or CHD is a condition in which the dog's femur does not fit properly with the hip socket. In this scenario, the cartilage is damaged, the joint is slowly destroyed and the dog experiences pain and swelling in the affected area. Hip dysplasia in dogs is not the same as hip arthritis. However, dog hip dysplasia is one of the causes of hip arthritis in dogs.
Canine Hip Dysplasia is an inherited disease that affects mainly large breed dogs. The word "dysplasia" means inappropriate growth. Hip dysplasia can be defined as abnormal or a faulty development of the hip. In this case, the hip becomes wobbly and loose, ultimately leading to a kind of arthritis commonly referred to as Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD). The degree of lameness that takes place is usually dependent upon the level of arthritic changes in the hip joint. And also the environmental conditions such as the amount of physical exercise and weight gain contribute to the disease and bring out the following signs.
Decreased activity: Dogs with this illness usually become less active. Dog owners may notice that their pet sleeps or rests more, showing less enthusiasm to go for walk, less stamina or interest to play. It is important to mention your pet low activity to your veterinarian. Unfortunately, a lot of people attribute their dog’s inactive nature to effects of aging, while the dog may actually be suffering from pain associated with hip dysplasia.
Decreased ability to jump or climb stairs: For dogs, hind legs play a vital role in their ability to jump or climb stairs. When inflammation develops due to hip dysplasia, the dogs experience pain and finally suffer a decreased kind of motion inside the joint. Dog owners might initially notice dog’s hesitance to jump into a car or climb stairs. In the end, the dog can simply refuse these activities and become dependent on help.
Difficulty in Rising: As the pains of hip dysplasia increase, dog owners may notice that their dogs have trouble standing up from lying position. The sluggishness way the dog stands up is often associated with the length of time he was lying down. Trouble rising up is frequently the most obvious first thing in the morning after the dog sleeps through the night. With activity during waking hours, dogs can "warm out" from stiffness.
The surface on which the pet rests can also affect the ease with which he can get up. Carpets provide much better traction than hardwood, linoleum or tiles surface. You can take steps to improve your pet footing to avoid slips or falls. Carpet runners on wooden stairs can increase the mobility of a dog with hip dysplasia. Area carpet with no slip backing should be used in the areas often passed by the dog throughout the house.
Bunny Hopping: This is the abnormal change in walk sometimes exhibited by a dog with hip dysplasia. This is called Bunny Hopping because dogs are seen raising both hind legs simultaneously like jumping a rabbit. You can notice Bunny hopping when dogs are running, jumping, walking or climbing stairs. According to a specialist, the characteristic of Bunny hopping walk is believed to be an attempt to reduce the pain in the coxofemoral joints by sharing the forces on each hip in half during propulsion and weight-bearing. It is important to distinguish bunny hopping from jumping that can be related to hunting behavior or play.
Persistent Hind Lameness: This depends on the harshness of the dog's hip dysplasia and its level of activity, dog owners may notice recurrent or continuous lameness in the hind legs. Over time, abnormal wear or tear of the joint can causes bone proliferation. The "C-shaped" socket usually becomes shallow and flattened, while the femoral head loses its smooth appearance in the shape of the ball and begins to look like a mushroom. The subsequent pain and inflammation may result in mild favoring or a non-weight lameness of a rear limb.
Hip Pain and Sensitivity: Canines with hip dysplasia may show discomfort when a family member or veterinarian touching the hips. In the early stages, when the ball pops out of the socket, tiny fractures occur at the edge of the socket and the soft tissue surrounding the hip joint become stretched. These changes can result in pain in dogs as young as four months of age.
As the pup age, hip dysplasia causes the collapse of the cartilage, which acts as a shock absorber for the joints. The bone underneath the damaged cartilage is also subject to changes. These structural changes cause inflammation and a condition known as osteoarthritis. While early X-rays shows a normal ball shape and socket that are misaligned, future X-rays reveal a significant bone remodeling of both structures.
Management of hip dysplasia
Identify the initial signs of hip dysplasia and taking steps to reduce the progression of the irreversible joint disease is very important. Studies have shown that maintaining a healthy weight of dogs can significantly reduce the incidence and severity of arthritis. Exercise adjustment is also important with moderate to light movement recommended instead of strenuous activity.
In addition to asking your veterinarian about medications to relieve the discomfort caused by hip dysplasia, owners can also make adjustments to maintain the dog quality of life. As stated earlier, household alterations such as carpet runners on stairs and slippery surfaces can greatly improve the movement and safety of the dog. Ramps should be available to help dogs get to cars. Ramps can also be built to enable the dog to avoid stairs when leaving the house. Well-cushioned bedding should be provided throughout the house.
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Medical Journals and Studies
- Diagnosis, genetic control and preventive management of canine hip dysplasia: A review
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- The pathogenesis and diagnosis of canine hip dysplasia: a review
(SUP: 1995 Aug; 36(8): 494–502.)
View Abstract »
- The long (and winding) road to gene discovery for canine hip dysplasia
(SUP: 19297220, PMC2679856)
View Abstract »
- Canine hip dysplasia and the breeder. A layman’s point of view
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- Topical regional neuro-affective therapy in mammals with cannabinoids
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