Founded in 2011, we aim to provide clear and up-to-date information regarding Canine Hip Dysplasia.
What causes hip dysplasia?
Several factors contribute to the development of this problem. While there is no conclusive proof of the cause of hip dysplasia, there are 2 general schools of thought about its cause;
Genetic: Some breeds are more likely to genetically inherit hip dysplasia
Environmental: The puppy is too heavy resulting in excessive growth and/or over or under exercising a puppy during its growth phase resulting in developmental problems.
These two differing viewpoints often place the dog breeders at odds with the dog owners, causing each to blame the other for the problem.
The most common theory is that hip dysplasia is indeed genetic. Most breeders have their breeding dogs’ hips rated by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) or Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program (Penn-HIP), or various other international orthopedic groups. We could discuss the merits of both theories, but it doesn’t change the facts. If your dog has hip dysplasia, you need to deal with it.
What Are the Symptoms of Canine Hip Dysplasia?
The symptoms of CHD depend on the severity of the dysplasia. Another factor is the wether or not degenerative joint disease (DJD) is present. Dogs less than 1-year-old have a tendency to have periods of acute bilateral (or unilateral) lameness in their rear legs. Older dogs with CHD exhibit rear limb lameness with an obvious weight displacement to the forelimb (front paws). Furthermore, the signs of lameness become more obvious with exercise or after a minor trauma. Again, depending on the degree of joint destruction, visible signs vary. Following is a list of common symptoms, of which your dog may have a couple and not have hip dysplasia.
- Bunny Hopping: The dog tends to use both hind legs together, rather than one at a time. This occurs when the dog is running, or going upstairs.
- Side Sit: Also called lazy sit, slouch or frog sit. When the dog sits, its legs are not positioned bent and close to the body. They can be loose and off to one side, or one or both legs may be straight out in front.
- Sway Walk: Also called a loose walk. When the dog is walking, the back end sways back and forth because the hips are loose.
- Unusual Laying Position: Legs are straight out and off to the side when the dog is laying on its stomach or legs are straight out behind the dog. (All dogs lay with their legs behind them on occasion, many dogs with hip dysplasia lay like this all the time.)
- Limping: The dog may favor one hind leg or the other, and may alternate legs that it is favoring.
- Quiet Puppy: Puppies who are already in pain from hip dysplasia tend to be very good puppies. They do not roughhouse the way that normal puppies do. They also tend to sleep for a long time after playing or going for a walk. Some owners describe their puppy with hip dysplasia as the best puppy they’ve ever had.
How is Canine Hip Dysplasia Diagnosed?
Initial assessment involves taking a history of the dog and examining obvious clinical signs. The only real way to see if a dog is suffering from CHD is through X Rays. If found early enough in pups, surgery can correct the problem.
What Is the Treatment of Canine Hip Dysplasia?
Treatment for CHD can be as mild as recommending rest, or as severe as surgery, depending on the severity of the dysplasia, amount of DJD, the age of the dog, the size of the dog, and many other factors, treatment will vary.
Possible Conservative Treatment
- Weight monitoring
- Moderate exercise
- Pain relief medication
- Joint and health supplements
Possible Surgical Treatment
Currently, there are three main surgical procedures used in for the treatment of CHD.
- Triple Pelvic Osteotomy (TPO)
- Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO)
- Total hip replacement (THR)
Is There Any Way to Prevent Canine Dysplasia?
CHD is a combination of genetics and environmental factors. Responsible breeders are working on reducing the chances of CHD by breeding dogs that are less likely to produce pups that will have the disease, through better screening methods. Responsible owners can help dogs with CHD by addressing these environmental variables. By closely monitoring a dog’s diet, for example, owners can ensure that a pup will not grow too fast, or become overweight. Here is a list of variables that can be controlled in order to nurture a dog with CHD.
- Limit rough play, jumping, climbing stairs or slick floors.
- Monitor food intake.
- Calcium supplementation (may increase the bone remodeling).
- Forced running for any distance, especially on tarmac, asphalt or other hard surfaces
- Have your dog certified by The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA)