Canine Hip Dysplasia - Are You Aware Of This??

Canine Hip Dysplasia - Are You Aware Of This??

Written By: Binita Published In: Dog-Blog Created Date: 2016-12-05 Hits: 993 Comment: 0
The hip joint is composed of the ball and the socket. The development of hip dysplasia is determined by an interaction of genetic and environmental factors, though there is a complicated pattern of inheritance for this disorder, with multiple genes involved. Hip dysplasia is the failure of the hip joints to develop normally (known as malformation), gradually deteriorating and leading to loss of function of the hip joints. Hip dysplasia is one of the most common skeletal diseases seen in dogs. Gender does not seem to be a factor, but some breeds are more likely to have the genetic predisposition for hip dysplasia than other breeds. Large and giant breeds are most commonly affected, including the Great Dane, Saint Bernard, Labrador Retriever, and German Shepherd. Rarely, small breed dogs can also be affected, but are less likely to show clinical signs.
Hip dysplasia often begins while a dog is still young and physically immature. Early onset usually develops after four months of age. There are also cases of later onset, where hip dysplasia develops later due to osteoarthritis, a form of joint inflammation (arthritis) that is characterized by chronic deterioration, or degeneration of the joint cartilage.

The condition is caused by looseness in a hip joint that should be tight. If the ball and socket of the hip joint do not sit properly, the friction causes degeneration of the joints, which eventually leading to loss of function in the hip joints.
Hip dysplasia is caused by a number of genetic and environmental factors:

  • Some dogs can be born with hip dysplasia (often referred to as early onset hip dysplasia). From an inheritance perspective, it is a complex disorder with multiple genes involved. Therefore, it is not something easily eradicated from a particular breed or lineage.
  • Dogs can also develop the disease in later years with the onset of arthritic conditions (often referred to as later onset hip dysplasia).
  • Environmental factors can also cause hip dysplasia. These can include: rapid weight gain and obesity, nutritional factors, poor hind limb muscle development, pelvic injuries, or repetitive strain injuries.
Early onset cases of hip dysplasia usually develop after four months of age. In young dogs, there is a laxity or joint looseness that develops as the dog grows. For later onset cases, the cause is usually due to a form of arthritis called osteoarthritis, which causes the joint cartilage to deteriorate. The onset can also be due to extreme "wear and tear", often seen in working dogs.

Symptoms and Types:
Symptoms depend on the degree of joint looseness or laxity, the degree of joint inflammation, and the duration of the disease.

  • Early disease: signs are related to joint looseness or laxity
  • Later disease: signs are related to joint degeneration and osteoarthritis
  • Decreased activity
  • Difficulty rising
  • Reluctance to run, jump, or climb stairs
  • Intermittent or persistent hind-limb lameness, often worse after exercise
  • “Bunny-hopping,” or swaying gait
  • Narrow stance in the hind limbs (back legs unnaturally close together)
  • Pain in hip joints
  • Joint looseness or laxity – characteristic of early disease; may not be seen in long-term hip dysplasia due to arthritic changes in the hip joint
  • Grating detected with joint movement
  • Decreased range of motion in the hip joints
  • Loss of muscle mass in thigh muscles
  • Enlargement of shoulder muscles due to more weight being exerted on front legs as dog tries to avoid weight on its hips, leading to extra work for the shoulder muscles and subsequent enlargement of these muscles.

Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam on your dog, including a blood chemical profile, a complete blood count, an electrolyte panel and a urinalysis. Inflammation due to joint disease may be noted in the complete blood count. As part of surveying the physical symptoms and fluid work-ups, your veterinarian will also need a thorough history of your dog's health, onset of symptoms, and any possible incidents or injuries that may have contributed to your dog's symptoms. Any information you have on your dog's parentage will be helpful as well, as there may be a genetic link. X-rays are crucial for visualizing the signs of hip dysplasia. Some of the possible findings may be degenerative disease of the spinal cord, lumbar vertebral instability, bilateral stifle disease and other bone diseases.

Various medical and surgical options are available today to help restore your pet’s mobility and ease discomfort. The method of treatment depends on a number of factors including age and severity of the problem. Surgery is generally a last option and is usually recommended when other forms of treatment are not effective, when athletic performance is desired in young patients or to slow the progression of degenerative joint disease to enhance the probability of good long term limb function.
Non-surgical options:
Non-surgical treatment is essentially the same as treatment for arthritis including a weight management program (including nutritional supplements), medications to help support and repair cartilage and medications to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Refer to our topic on arthritis for more information.
Surgical options:

  • Femoral head ostectomy (FHO) 
  • Triple osteotomy
  • Total Hip Replacement (THR)

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