Recently, we noticed that our Golden Retriever, Sandi, was limping after playing at the dog park. Sometimes, the limping would even last two or three days. We took her to the vet, and he did an X-ray. The diagnosis is that she has canine hip dysplasia. Before we even took her to vet, I had begun to suspect as much, and I eagerly began researching what this would mean for her. I discovered that dogs with this disorder can live long and happy lives with a little help from their families.
What is hip dysplasia?
His dysplasia is a malformation of the ball-and-socket joint in the hip. This means that the joint does not fit together properly. Often, the socket is too loose. This causes abnormal wear to the joint. It can affect either or both hips.
What causes hip dysplasia?
There are several factors that affect a dog’s likelihood of having hip dysplasia.
The primary cause of this disorder is genetics. If the dog comes from a line that is genetically susceptible to hip dysplasia, the chances of that dog having it are greatly increased. However, dogs that carry the genes do not always suffer from the disorder, which can make determining if it is a carrier difficult.
Along with genetics, certain breeds are more likely to suffer from hip dysplasia. Larger breeds are much more prone to malformation of the hips. This is especially true for “German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Rottweilers, Great Danes, Golden Retrievers, and Saint Bernards .”
Hip dysplasia is affected by outside factors as well. One such factor is weight. A dog that is prone to hip dysplasia is more likely to suffer the symptoms if he or she is overweight.
Finally, exercise can affect a dog’s chances of suffering from hip dysplasia. Specifically, exercise that is hard on the hip joints increases a dog’s risk. Sadly, this includes fetching and catching games, which many dogs really enjoy.
How is hip dysplasia diagnosed?
The only way to definitively diagnose hip dysplasia in dogs is an X-ray. Unfortunately, many dogs need to be anesthetized for such an X-ray. This, of course, adds to the vet bill.
Certain symptoms may also help to point to hip dysplasia, and the vet will probably consider these before recommending an X-ray.
Limping: A dog with hip dysplasia may attempt to avoid fully extending its leg. This can result in limping, a wiggly behind when walking, very small steps, or a tendency to “hop” caused by moving both hind legs at the same time while running.
Placement of hind legs when standing: A dog with hip issues may stand with his or her hind legs unusually close together. This is one way for a dog to compensate for the discomfort caused by the hip deformation.
Difficulty standing or sitting: A dog with hip dysplasia may be slow to change positions. He or she may also have a tendency to just “flop” over rather than to lie down in a normal manner.
Reluctance to jump or climb: Finally, a dog with hip malformation may resist climbing stairs, climbing onto for furniture, or jumping into vehicles. These are activities that can cause stress and pain in the hip.
How is it treated?
There are many options for treating hip dysplasia in dogs.
One such treatment option is a hip replacement surgery. This is exactly what it sounds like; the dogs hip is replaced with a prosthetic. Most dogs who have the surgery experience significant improvement. Unfortunately, such a procedure is quite expensive (in the thousands of dollars range).
If the surgery is too expensive or if the dog is not qualified for such a procedure, there are other options. Usually, they are combined.
Weight control can greatly alleviate the symptoms of hip dysplasia. This can be achieved with a diet change and/or food restriction. Of course, weight loss and control is also facilitated by exercise.
In dogs with hip dysplasia, moderate exercise is recommended. This specifically refers to walking and swimming. Jumping, catching, wrestling, and roughhousing are out, unfortunately for some dogs who love to partake in these activities.
In addition to weight control and exercise, hip dysplasia can be treated with anti-inflammatory medications. Unfortunately, the cost of these add of over the years, and an owner may end up spending more over time than he or she would have if the dog had received the hip replacement surgery. The anti-inflammatories can easily cost a couple to a few hundred dollars a year.
Finally, there are natural, homeopathic treatments one can try for treating his or her dog’s hip dysplasia. Omega 3 and vitamin C supplements have been shown to help treat hip issues in dogs. A friend also shared with me that pulped celery, coconut oil, alfalfa, apple cider vinegar, and several others. An owner can also give massages and rubs to his or her dog, and the vet can show one how to do this properly without causing further discomfort or injury.
Note: Buying a dog from a conscientious breeder who screens the dogs for hip dysplasia before using them for breeding can greatly reduce the risk of ending up with a dog who suffers from this painful and potentially expensive disorder.
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