Understanding Hip Dysplasia
Understanding Hip DysplasiaHip dysplasia is caused by an incorrect fit of the ball and socket joint of the hip. Instead of the top of the femur fitting securely into the socket it is loose and slides around in the joint, creating irregular wear patterns. In addition to the poor fit and malformation, the tendons also are also not tight across the joint, allowing even more irregular movement and wear of the joint. Since this can be tested for prior to breeding it is important to ask the breeder for the hip certification in breeds that are known to be problematic.
Onset And SymptomsIn very severe cases of malformation and wear on the hip joint puppies can be diagnosed with the condition but typically not before four months. For the vast majority of dogs the actual wearing down of the joint takes years to become noticeable, often with arthritis as a result of the constant breakdown of the cartilage and bone tissue. Dogs that are overweight often show earlier onset.
The most common symptoms that owners will typically notice is a tenderness or lameness in one or both hind legs, often which seems to come and go in the early stages. The dogs often compensate for the pain by changing their gait, literally moving the hind quarters as one, creating a very typical rolling type of motion. It is sometimes described as a «bunny hop» and is often mistaken for a normal dog gait if it has always been present.
The dog tends to have great difficult getting up from a sitting or down position and this becomes much more noticeable over time. They may stagger when they take a step after sitting and may be very unlikely to play or want to walk or exercise. The legs may be held very straight when walking or sitting. In advanced cases the hips will click or pop when they are extended or rotated either manually or as the dog naturally moves.
When diagnosed in puppies a hip replacement, either full or partial, is an option to consider although it is an expensive procedure. In older dogs pain management and therapy to help maintain the current level of mobility and movement of the joint is typically provided. New procedures are also available for surgical interventions for older dogs depending on the degree of the problem and the other health conditions that may be present.
In mild to moderate cases hydrotherapy, anti-inflammatory medications, changes in diet and weight loss and regular exercise can help manage the condition. Non-steroid medications are now available that work to both manage the pain and decrease the inflammation of the joint are very successful in many cases. Holistic options and natural treatments including specific types of supplements are often used with positive reports from owners.
Content provided by Jerry Dawson of