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Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

The first thing for dog owners is to be able to recognise if your dog may be suffering from a joint problem. Signs can include:

  1. Stiff movement in the rear especially during or after exercise
  2. Reluctance to climb stairs or difficulty getting into the car
  3. Trouble getting up and down
  4. Excessive panting
  5. Running with a 'bunny hopping' action


What Causes Hip Dysplasia?

Hip Dysplasia is when the hip socket has not formed correctly and has a genetic predisposition with environmental factors and can result in arthritis and pain. The dog is usually born with normal hips but due the these genetic factors the soft tissue supporting the hip doesn't form correctly resulting in subluxation. This leads to the hip joints being remodelled resulting in the symptoms of hip Dysplasia. It can be unilateral or bilateral.

Weight can be a big factor and dogs that are overweight have a much larger chance of developing the disease especially if they are genetically disposed.

Rapid growth and over exercise of puppies and young dogs can also cause this disease to develop.

The breeds most commonly affected are larger and giant breeds such as Labrador Retrievers, German Sheperds, Newfoundlands, Great Danes, Saint Bernards and Golden Retrievers. The incidence in smaller breeds is low and it's usually found in pure breed dogs. In order to diagnose this condition your vet will take X-rays of your dogs hips. The sooner the condition is diagnosed the better the long term result.


Surgical options

Triple Pelvic Osteotamy- only for young dogs with no joint damage. The surgeon breaks and realigns the pelvic bones to correct the hip joint. Has a good outcome

Pubic Symphodensis- again only for dogs younger than 20 weeks with no arthritic changes. The pelvic growths plates are fused prematurely changing the angle of the hips and stabilising the joint.

Femoral Head Excision- the femoral head is removed and replaced with a fibrous pseudo joint.

Hip Replacement- the hip joint is removed and replaced with an artificial joint. For dogs with degenerative joint disease and chronic hip Dysplasia

Medication and Therapies

Pain killers and anti-inflammatories

Weight management

Strict exercise regime including swimming, lead walks, slow running and treadmill exercise. High impact excessive should be avoided.

Massage, chiropractic care and physiotherapy will enable your dog to be as pain free as possible.

Oral supplements such as glucosamine, chondroitin, green lipped muscle extract and omega 3 fatty acids.

The bottom line is care must be taken to only breed dogs that whose parents and grand parents have excellent hip scores followed by careful management of exercise and diet from a puppy and into adulthood.