Hip dysplasia is one of the most common maladies that plague our beloved canine creatures. It is a degenerative condition where a dog’s hip joint is abnormally formed, due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. This condition is significantly more common in larger breeds such as Bernese Mountain Dogs, Boxers, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Old English Sheep Dogs but nevertheless, occurs in most breeds.
Hip dysplasia can be a very painful condition to manage and treat after onset. Fret not though; Here’s a list of steps you can take to potentially stave off any danger of hip dysplasia in your beloved puppy:
The diet that your dog consumes, for most part, dictates the sort of physical state he will be in. This extends even to the issue of hip dysplasia.
An obese dog is definitely, combined with a conducive genetic makeup, at a much higher risk of developing hip dysplasia in middle or later age. Managing your dog’s weight and keeping them at a healthy level, while maintaining regular levels of activity will go a long way in ensuring better chances against occurrence of hip dysplasia. This is especially pertinent to young pups, as research clearly indicates that dogs that are kept lean in their puppy years tend to suffer from hip dysplasia far lesser than their counterparts who were obese as puppies.
We emphasise on the activity levels because it is vital to nourish your dog’s system (including their joints) with essential nutrients such as Vitamin E, Iron and Calcium. Lack of these nutrients in your dog’s diet, even if it is in a bid to make him/her lose some weight, might put your dog at a higher risk for hip dysplasia, counter intuitively. It is always, therefore, recommended to but high quality food for your dog, from trusted manufacturers that have been enriched with natural preservatives such as Vitamin E.
You can also consider giving your dog supplements such as Vit C, E or Perna which have been proven to have varying levels of efficacy in offsetting hip dysplasia. Consult your veterinarian about choice of supplements and the right dose.
A regular, moderate exercise plan is a must to keep your dog’s muscles and joints in tip top condition and avoid potential injuries or wear and tear.
Regularity and consistency are parameters to strive for here rather than intensity. Again, probably contrary to popular belief, physical strenuous activities such as repeated jumping can actually put your dog at risk of hip dysplasia. Puppies especially, before their developmental prime, are at a high risk of injury/dysplasia if they run or jump too much, especially on hard surfaces.
A brisk walk every day might not sound like much but will be perfectly adequate for your dog’s physical health, if stuck to religiously and accompanied by a balanced and healthy diet.
If you think your dog has a wobbly gait, an unsteady posture or any other sign that makes you suspect dysplasia, an immediate visit to the vet is in order. Your dog will probably be screened using x-rays to confirm a diagnosis of hip dysplasia. Early diagnosis means better chances of managing the condition and hopefully mitigating any adverse effects to a large extent.
Some other common signs of dysplasia are a typical “bunny hop” during walks or a generalised aversion towards strenuous physical activity.
X ray of a labrador retriever with hip dysplasia
x ray of normal dog hips for comparison
4. Treatment Options:
In cases where the extent of malformation is low, treatment usually includes weight loss, weight management and drugs to manage the inflammation and pain and to stimulate joint repair and maintenance. NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal anti inflammatory drugs) are used for the former while a glucosamine based nutritional supplement is used for promoting joint repair.
regular therapeutic massage has been shown to yield good results.
Surgery, usually one of two, triple head osteotomy or a femoral head ostectomy, might be a great option to achieve betterment in long term living standard, and is something you must discuss with your vet, if it is an option.