Summary of Hip Dysplasia
What is it?
An orthopedic problem in large-breed dogs
How is it Treated?
Medicine and surgery
What is Hip Dysplasia in Dogs?
Hip dysplasia (HD) is a condition where the hip joint becomes out of place due to abnormal development of the hip socket and bone growth around the hip joint. It is one of the most common orthopedic diseases in dogs.
This condition can affect any dog, but it is especially prevalent in larger breeds such as German Shepherd Dogs, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Boxers, Doberman Pinschers, Rottweilers, and Pit Bulls.
There are two types of hip dysplasia: degenerative and juvenile hip dysplasia.
Degenerative hip dysplasia occurs when the cartilage covering the ball and socket wears away. This is also called hip joint laxity. Degenerative hip dyplasia is most commonly seen in giant breed dogs, including Great Danes, Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Saint Bernards, Mastiffs, Bullmastiffs, Boxers, Pit Bulls, and American Staffordshire Terriers. Most puppies develop some degree of HD at birth. However, only 1% of affected puppies develop severe symptoms. Most owners never notice any problems until their dog is older – usually after ten years of age.
Juvenile hip dysplasia happens earlier in life. During development, the young dog’s hip socket (acetabulum) is too shallow to cover the head of the thighbone (femoral head) to fit properly. Some dogs have a minor looseness in one or both of their hip joints. Juvenile hip dysplasia ranges in severity between mild and severe.
Causes of Canine Hip Dysplasia
Hip dysplasia is a common condition in dogs that causes pain and lameness. It affects millions of dogs worldwide.
It occurs when the hip joint becomes misaligned due to abnormal growth of bone tissue. This results in painful arthritis and lameness.
This condition usually develops between 6 and 12 months old. However, it may develop later in life. The following contribute to the development of hip dysplasia:
Genetics plays an important role in causing hip dysplasia in young dogs. If one parent has hip dysplasia, chances are 50% that the puppy will inherit the problem. However, if both parents have hip dysplasia, the chance of developing hip dysplasia is 100%. Puppies born to parents without hip dysplasia are called unaffected. It’s unlikely they’ll have any signs of hip dysplasia. Pups born to affected parents are called affected. They will likely develop hip dysplasia.
- Environmental Factors
Environmental factors such as diet, exercise, and stress affect whether a dog develops hip dysplasia. A dog’s environment plays a big part in determining its health. For example, if a dog lives in a household with no pets, he won’t get much physical activity. He will grow up weak and unhealthy. On the other hand, if a dog lives with several active pets, he will be exposed to plenty of exercise and nutrition. His bones will become stronger, and his joints will be healthier. Stress is another factor that contributes to hip dysplasia. Puppies that live in homes with too much noise and chaos are stressed. They tend to eat poorly and lack proper sleep. They grow up weak and unhealthy, and their joints suffer.
What a dog eats influences his overall health. Poor diets lead to poor health. For instance, feeding a dog a high-carbohydrate diet often leads to rapid growth. But this growth comes at the expense of muscle mass. As a result, the young dog is usually weak and frail. He doesn’t have the strength needed to walk properly, and the puppy’s joints are prone to injury. Feeding a dog a protein-rich diet helps him grow strong and healthy. As a result, his muscles are well-developed. His joints are protected against injury. And his hips are sturdy and stable.
Exercise is essential for growing healthy bones. Without regular exercise, a dog’s bones don’t receive adequate stimulation. As a result of inadequate exercise, his bones grow weak and brittle. These weak bones cause problems such as hip dysplasia when he gets older. Regular exercise prevents the development of hip dysplasia. It strengthens the bones and makes them resistant to injury.
Stress is another major contributor to hip dysplasia in pups. If a dog experiences excessive amounts of stress, he suffers from low immunity. His immune system isn’t working right. As a result, he is susceptible to illness. His bones aren’t receiving sufficient nutrients. And he lacks the energy needed to perform daily tasks. Although hip dysplasia is relatively rare in dogs, it does affect approximately 10% of the population. People with hip dysplasia often have trouble walking and experience a degree of hip pain. Some owners may notice signs of hip dysplasia early in life, but most cases go undetected until later in life. Early detection is important because treatments are available to help alleviate symptoms and prevent further damage.
Although hip dysplasia is relatively rare in dogs, it does affect approximately 10% of the population. People with hip dysplasia often have trouble walking and experience a degree of hip pain.
Some owners may notice signs of hip dysplasia early in life, but most cases go undetected until later in life. Early detection is important because treatments are available to help alleviate symptoms and prevent further damage.
Signs of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs
There are several types of hip dysplasia, including juvenile and mature forms. Although there is some overlap between these two forms of the disease and they can occur at any age, there are differences. Some of these include:
- Bunny hopping gait
- Rear-leg lameness (one or both limbs)
- Difficulty rising
- Clicking sound from hips when walking or standing
- Weight shifting to front limbs
- Lack of ability to exercise for long periods
- Young dogs rarely exhibit signs of hip dysfunction and get better. Improvement happens because the body produces fibrotic tissue to stabilize the loose joints. About 30 percent of dogs will require additional treatment later in life, but many can do well without treatment.
- Progressive rear limb lameness
- Bunny hopping gait
- Lameness after exercise
- Muscle loss in one or both rear limbs
- Difficulty jumping or climbing stairs
Diagnosis of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs
To diagnose hip dysplasia, veterinarians use x-rays to examine the bones in the joint between the thighbone (femur) and the pelvis (hip). The veterinarian looks for signs of joint laxity and bony outgrowths that form along the edge of the femur and the acetabulum (the socket where the ball of the foot fits). These growths cause inflammation and irritation, leading to pain.
The veterinarian will also examine your dog’s joints and bones, including his hips, shoulders, elbows, knees, and ankles. He will also measure the length of your dog’s legs and compare those measurements to the average for healthy dogs.
The veterinarian determines if the dog has hip osteoarthritis based on the symptoms and the findings during the exam.
Radiographs are x-rays taken of bones, organs, and tissues. They’re used to diagnose hip dysplasia in dogs. X-ray machines use radiation to create pictures of internal structures. The amount of radiation exposure depends on the type of machine being used.
When taking a radiograph, the dog should be standing still and not moving during the procedure. This helps reduce movement artifacts, which distort the picture.
After the radiograph is taken, the veterinarian views the images on a screen or, if it’s film, through a lightbox to determine whether there are any abnormalities and to ensure proper positioning. If abnormalities are found, the veterinarian sends the film to a veterinary specialist who examines the film and makes a diagnosis based on his/her findings.
Treatment Options for Hip Dysplasia in Dogs
Dogs with hip dysplasia often suffer pain and discomfort because of the condition. There are several ways to treat hip dysplasia in dogs, including surgery, physical therapy, medication, and dietary supplements.
Surgery is usually recommended when the dog shows signs of severe joint damage. If successful, only 30% of young dogs treated this way will need advanced therapies later in life. However, most dogs don’t live long enough to benefit from treatment. In addition, this option may not be suitable for every dog. Surgery requires anesthesia, recovery time, and possible complications.
Three surgeries are available for treating hip dysplasia: Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis, total hip replacement (THR), and osteotomy.
Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis (JPS)
In the case of Pubic Symphysiodesis (JPS), this surgery is typically performed on young puppies up to 5 months old so that their hips can develop more normally and avoid potential problems later down the road. The pubis symphysis connects left side( pelvis) with right half; after it fuses permanently in puberty. This surgery prematurely seals the symphysis, resulting in the rotation of the developing hip sockets into a more normal alignment.
JPS can be performed at the same time as desexing. It is a relatively straightforward, inexpensive procedure with a good recovery and a low risk of complications.
Total Hip Replacement
If your dog has hip dysplasia, he needs total hip replacement surgery. Total hip replacement surgery replaces the damaged ball and socket joints with artificial ones made of metal and plastic.
This surgery is usually recommended after six months of age because the cartilage between the bone ends wears down over time. Your veterinarian will recommend this procedure based on your dog’s specific situation.
Your vet will perform the surgery under general anesthesia. He or she will remove the damaged parts of the joint and replace them with prosthetic implants. After the operation, your pet will need several weeks of rehabilitation to recover fully.
Femoral Head Osteotomy
Another treatment option is femoral head osteotomy surgery. According to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, on average, about 85% of cases will show some degree of improvement in lameness and comfort despite the progression of arthritis on X-rays after surgical treatment. Osteotomy involves removing the femoral head and the femoral neck along the end of the femur.
This procedure may be performed on puppies or adult dogs, and it’s performed during general anesthesia.
Physical therapy involves strengthening exercises to help strengthen weak muscles and improve the range of motion. This type of exercise helps prevent future problems associated with hip dysplasia.
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medical practice that has been used to treat a variety of conditions for centuries. Recently, it has been gaining popularity as a treatment for canine hip dysplasia.
Some scientific evidence supports using acupuncture to treat hip dysplasia in dogs. A study published in the Journal of Veterinary Medicine found that acupuncture effectively reduced pain and improved mobility in dogs with hip dysplasia.
If you are considering acupuncture as a treatment for your dog’s hip dysplasia, be sure to consult with a qualified veterinarian or acupuncturist.
Medication is sometimes used to relieve symptoms, especially when the dog is experiencing extreme pain. Medications can include pain medications, NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), joint supplements, corticosteroids, and opioids. Some medications can cause side effects, such as vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, and drowsiness.
Supplemental feeding is another option for dogs suffering from hip dysplasia. Supplemental feeding aims to reduce weight gain and bone density loss. Supplemental feedings should only be considered after consulting with a veterinarian.
Many diets are available for dogs with hip dysplasia, including grain-free, gluten-free, and hypoallergenic diets. Grain-free diets contain fewer carbohydrates than regular diets, making them better choices for dogs who experience gastrointestinal issues. Gluten-free diets are typically made from rice, corn, potato starch, soy protein, and tapioca. Hypoallergenic diets contain wheat, barley, rye, oats, milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, and sesame seeds.
Joint supplements. These supplements provide vital nutrients (usually glucosamine and chondroitin) that can help to support healthy joint function. They also help to reduce inflammation and pain associated with hip dysplasia.
Joint supplements are a safe and effective way to treat canine hip dysplasia.
Prevention for Canine Hip Dysplasia
Preventing hip dysplasia in dogs is simple. All dogs should receive regular exercise and proper nutrition. Puppies should be taken for walks every day until they reach four months of age. Older dogs should be walked daily. They should be fed a diet rich in protein and calcium. Adult dogs should eat a balanced diet containing adequate protein and calcium.
Another important factor is exercise. Exercise strengthens muscles and ligaments, helping keep joints healthy. Finally, be sure to give your dog plenty of quality time outside. Spending time outdoors provides your dog with fresh air and sunshine, which help stimulate his immune system.
Contact your veterinarian immediately if you notice any clinical signs of hip dysplasia in your pets. He or she may recommend x-rays to determine whether a treatment option is necessary.