Canine Hip dysplasia is the malformation and degeneration of the hip joints. It is one of the most common skeletal diseases in dogs and can be passed onto offspring.
Breeds more at risk includes St. Bernard, German Shepard, Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, and Rottweillers.
Age: Hip Dysplasia begins in the young dog and may be detected by symptoms as early as four months of age. Some dogs may not demonstrate symptoms until they are entering their geriatric years.
· Decreased activities
· Difficulty rising
· Reluctance to run or 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
· Loss of muscle mass in the hind limbs
Diagnosis: Orthopedic exam, pelvic radiographs
· Genetic predisposition
· Rapid weight gain
· Conservative medical therapy may include pain management and joint supplements. However, conservative medical therapy does not correct the underlying problem. Thus, degeneration of joint will continue.
· Surgical options are available but vary with the pet's size and degree of joint degeneration.
· Exercise should be limited to the individual tolerance of the pet.
· Swimming is recommended to maintain joint mobility while minimizing weight bearing.
· Passive joint motion will reduce stiffness and help maintain muscle integrity.
Diet: Weight control is important. Your vet may recommend a weight reduction or management diet if your pet is overweight. Purina makes a diet specific for degenerative joint disease called JM which we have found helpful in reducing severity of symptoms.
Prevention: Never breed a dog known to have Canine Hip Dysplasia. When adopting an "at risk" breed of puppy, ask the breeder if the dam/sire have had OFC Certification and adopt puppies whose parentage had good or excellent ratings. While this will not guarantee that the puppy will not develop Canine Hip Dysplasia, it will greatly reduce the likelihood.
Source: Larry P. Tilly, Smith, Jr., Francis W.K., The 5 Minute Veterinary Consult, Williams and Wilkins, 1997, pp. 676-677.