If you have brought a dog into your home, you may consider your dog an actual member of the family. Unfortunately, dogs cannot communicate certain aches and pains they are experiencing, so you will need to pay close attention to visible signs. Considering that hip dysplasia affects an estimated 20 to 40 percent of large-breed dogs, understanding the signs of this disorder is key to preventing discomfort, severe pain, and lameness. Using this guide, you will understand hip dysplasia and learn the best treatments to ease pain and increase your dog's mobility.
The 101 on Hip Dysplasia
Genetics, injury, and environmental factors can all cause the ball and socket of your dog's hip joints to misalign. This misalignment increases the risk of deterioration, resulting in hip dysplasia. Also, dogs with osteoarthritis have a high risk of developing the disorder. While this deterioration is gradually, it can be painful. In addition, most dogs with the condition are unable to move due to the discomfort.
Larger dog breeds, such as German Shepherds, Saint Bernards, Great Danes, and Labrador Retrievers, are most affected. However, dogs of all heights and weights can develop hip dysplasia.
Signs of Hip Dysplasia
Paying attention to your dog's daily activities is essential to diagnosing hip dysplasia. While every dog is different, dogs with the condition will most likely display the following noticeable signs:
- Difficulty or Reluctance to Jumping, Running, Climbing
- Lameness, or Inability to Move, the Hind Legs
- Narrow Stance in Hind Legs
- Decreased Activity
- Increased Fatigue and Sleepiness
- Decreased Muscle Mass in Thighs
- Increased Muscle Mass in Shoulders and Back – This is due to the increased use of your dog's upper body for movement.
If your dog is showing any of the above signs, consult your veterinarian for detailed testing. A physical exam, blood tests, and urinalysis are necessary to determine if there is any inflammation in your dog's joints. Once testing is complete, the veterinarian will design a plan to treat your dog's pain and immobility.
Treating the Pain of Hip Dysplasia
If your dog's dysplasia is in its early stages, preventing further deterioration of the hip joints is key to easing pain and increasing mobility.
While surprising to hear, 45 percent of all dogs in the United States are overweight or obese. This excessive weight not only increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease, respiratory problems, and cancer, but it also increases the risk of developing arthritis.
If your dog is overweight and suffering with hip dysplasia, consider feeding them a low-fat dog food and adding more exercise to their day. Reducing their weight will reduce the amount of pressure and stress on their hip joints, which will ease pain and increase their mobility.
If genetics have caused a joint malformation, surgery may be necessary. DPO and TPO, or Double/Triple Pelvic Osteotomy, is an effective option for younger dogs with dysplasia. During this procedure, the pelvic bone is cut in two/three different places. This allows the surgeon to rotate the pelvic sections, improving the function of the hip's ball and socket joint.
Since this surgical procedure is so invasive, only the following qualities ensure your dog is a successful candidate:
- Young – Your dog should be 1 years of age or under for the DPO or TPO to be effective in healing their hip misalignment.
- No Arthritis – Your dog must not have any joint inflammation or any form of arthritis for the surgery to be effective.
- Healthy Weight – Dogs who are overweight or obese will find recovery very challenging. Veterinarians recommend that surgical candidates weight a minimum of 30 pounds, but they should be at a healthy weight.
Hip dysplasia may be a common condition, but it does not have to decrease your dog's quality of life. Using this guide, you will understand the signs and causes of the condition and learn the best option for easing pain and increasing their mobility.