Dog Health

Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Hip dysplasia is the joint problem that dogs most frequently suffer from, especially those of large and medium breeds, although small dogs can also suffer from it, although much less commonly.

Throughout this article, we are going to talk at length about hip dysplasia in dogs. We will see, among other things, what its symptoms are, how we can detect them, how to prevent them, and what to do to improve the quality of life of your dog if it already suffers from them.

1. What is dog hip dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia is a disease that consists of an incorrect development of the coxofemoral joint during the growth of the dog. It is a degenerative condition that is hereditary but not congenital; that is, it is not present when the dog is born but usually appears when the puppy is four or five months old.

And it is that, when a puppy is born, the structure of its hip is made up of cartilage, which will transform into bone as the puppy grows. If the hip develops correctly, the head of the femur, which is a kind of ball, will fit perfectly into the acetabulum, which is a concave cavity in the pelvis.

Hip dysplasia is a hereditary, non-congenital, and degenerative disease that consists of a poor fit of the head of the femur in the acetabulum of the pelvis.

However, in a dysplastic hip, the head of the femur does not fit well in the socket, either because the socket is too flat or because the head of the femur is too small or not spherical.

In both cases, the result is that the head of the femur will be out of its natural place, so it will move abnormally, causing the joint and periarticular tissue (tendons, muscles, and ligaments) to become inflamed, and friction that will wear away the bone and cartilage, all of which can end up causing osteoarthritis.

What is dog hip dysplasia

All this causes the dysplasia to cause the dog pain and, in some cases, limpness, so that, in many cases, the dog may have difficulty going up or down stairs or sitting down. In addition, this pain in the hindquarters tends to cause an overload in the front legs, which can cause, over time, the animal to lose more and more capacity for movement and muscle mass in its legs.

2. What are the causes of hip dysplasia in dogs?

As I said above, hip dysplasia in dogs is a disease with an important hereditary component; however, genes are not the only factor influencing their development; environmental factors also come into play (as Dr. Carol Beuchat, director of the Institute of Canine Biology, attests in this article).

causes of hip dysplasia in dogs

Let’s see what the causes are and the different risk factors that can cause a dog to develop hip dysplasia.

1. Genetic predisposition

It has been shown that hip dysplasia has a genetic basis (study), and it is known that, in fact, it is a polygenic disease, that is, its development is influenced by more than one gene.

It is clear that there are breeds more prone to suffering from it, and that if one of the parents of a dog has it, it is very likely that he will inherit it. However, until now, scientists have not been able to identify exactly which genes are responsible for its development.

Hip dysplasia is a polygenic disease; that is, more than one gene is involved in its development, and there are breeds of dogs more prone to suffering from it.

In any case, although the specific genes that influence the development of hip dysplasia are not known, dogs that suffer from it should never be used for breeding, and any responsible breeder will take this factor into account.

2. Environmental factors

Although, as we have seen, hip dysplasia has a strong hereditary component, not all dogs genetically predisposed to suffer from it develop it, and this is because genetics is not the only factor that causes it; several environmental factors are also involved. Let’s see them.

1. Nutrition

Nutrition plays a very important role in the general health of your dog, as well as in the health of his joints. That is why it is vitally important to feed our canine companions food that is suitable for them and low in carbohydrates (cereals, legumes, etc.). If you feed your dog with feed, it is best to choose one without grains and with a high content of quality animal protein.

We must always keep in mind that dogs are carnivorous animals, and an excess of carbohydrates in their diet will cause the pancreas to have to work much harder to digest the starch that these foods contain, producing an excess of insulin in the body, something that can lead to inflammation problems in the joints.

It is important to feed the puppy quality food and control the amount it eats since the weight it gains during its growth will have a decisive influence on the development of hip dysplasia.

In addition to all this, it is important that you control the amount of food you give your furry. As this study carried out by the University of Pennsylvania and the Nestle Research Center shows, the weight of the dog during its growth is a factor that has a great influence on the development of hip dysplasia.

For this reason, it is essential that you give your furry a portion of food suitable for their needs, taking into account their size and their physical activity, so that they have all the necessary nutrients, but without exceeding the quantity, in order to prevent them from being overweight.

2. Speed of growth

Actually, it can be said that all dogs grow quickly during their first months of life, but this is especially true of large and giant breeds. and we must bear in mind that a large dog has to grow a lot in a very short time.

A puppy is very small at birth; in reality, at that time, there is not a very marked difference in weight between different breeds, whether they are small or large. However, there can be a huge difference in the size that dogs reach as adults, depending on their breed.

While at birth there is not an overly marked difference between small and large breed dogs, by the time they reach adulthood, the difference can be huge.

Let’s take an example to see it clearly. A Yorkshire or Chihuahua puppy can weigh approximately 140 grams at birth, while a Great Dane or Saint Bernard can weigh between 600 and 700 grams. While there is a difference, it is not too great at birth.

However, by the time they reach adulthood, the difference in weight between a small breed dog and a large breed dog can become overwhelming: while an adult Yorkshire Terrier weighs between 1 and 4 kg, an adult Great Dane can weigh up to 90 kg. In other words, the path that a large dog has to travel to reach its final weight is much longer than that of a small puppy.

Speed of dog growth

In a puppy of a small breed, most of the growth takes place during its first six months of life: at three months, it will already have reached half of its adult weight, and between 8 and 10 months, it will have completed its growth. growth.

This means that the first phase of growth, which is when most of the skeletal development takes place, occurs while the puppies are still nursing, so their nutritional needs are adequately met.

In a large breed puppy, the rapid growth phase lasts until 8 months, well beyond the time of weaning, and if their diet is not correct, they will have a greater chance of developing hip dysplasia.

However, in a large breed puppy, this first phase of rapid growth lasts well beyond the time of weaning, and it grows very, very fast until it is 8 months old, by which time it will have been feeding itself for a few months, and, in the event that their diet is not correct, they will be more likely to develop osteopathic problems, such as hip dysplasia, during that period.

3. Excessive or inappropriate exercise

Of course, it is convenient for puppies to exercise since exercise helps strengthen the muscles of the legs and pelvis, something that will improve the stability of the hip joint. However, not all types of exercise are advisable, and, in fact, during the growth stage, we should avoid physical activities that can have an impact on the joints, which are still in formation.

Therefore, until the dog has completed its growth, it is advisable to avoid activities that require the dog to jump, turn sharply, or run excessively, such as agility or frisbee. It is also highly advisable to avoid games of explosive activity, such as throwing a dog ball or a stick over and over again each day, causing the pup to run like crazy for long periods of time.

Until the dog has completed its growth, it is advisable to avoid activities that require it to jump, turn sharply, or run excessively.

All this also applies to dogs that are already older, at a time when too-demanding or high-impact physical activity can affect their joints and bones.

3. Symptoms of hip dysplasia in dogs

Symptoms of hip dysplasia in dogs

The symptoms of hip dysplasia can vary depending on the degree to which your dog suffers from it and the level of inflammation it has. There are some dogs that begin to show signs of dysplasia when they are still puppies, while others develop it with age, along with osteoarthritis.

Whatever the case of your dog, there are a few symptoms that you have to take into account because they can be a sign that your friend has hip dysplasia. Let’s see them.

Decreased physical activity: You may notice that your dog does not feel like playing as much as before or that he no longer wants to run or jump.

  • Difficulty or resistance to climbing stairs or getting on a sofa or a car.
  • Hind leg lameness.
  • Muscle stiffness or atrophy.
  • Shows signs of pain after exercising.
  • Difficulty standing up.
  • It sits in a strange position, sticking one leg out.
  • When he runs, he does it like a rabbit, that is, in small jumps and with his hind legs moving at the same time.
  • It walks, swinging its back.
  • It shows pain if you touch it in the area of the hip or the hind legs.
  • Audible clicks.
  • Loss of muscle mass in the hind legs and increase in shoulder muscles (compensating for those in the rear area).
  • Mood swings, becoming more “aggressive” with other dogs or people, wanting to avoid them getting close to him; he can even shy away from you because he doesn’t want you to touch him when he feels pain.

4. How is hip dysplasia diagnosed in dogs?

To find out if your dog has hip dysplasia, your vet will perform a physical exam, in which he will feel his hips and move his hind legs to check for joint laxity.

But to make a definitive diagnosis, it is necessary to take an X-ray of the dog, and for this, it is mandatory that the animal be anesthetized or deeply sedated so that the veterinarian can place it in the correct position and its muscles are totally relaxed.

To make a definitive diagnosis of hip dysplasia, it is necessary to take an X-ray of the dog, which must be anesthetized or deeply sedated.

And it is that, to take the X-ray, the dog must be in the frontal decubitus position, that is, lying on its back, with the front legs stretched towards the head and the rear legs fully extended symmetrically and turned inwards. Obviously, it is very difficult to get a dog to allow itself to be manipulated into this position and remain relaxed, which is why sedation is imperative.

Once the X-ray is done, the veterinarian will be able to know if your dog has hip dysplasia and, if it does, the degree and severity of it. The classification of the degree of hip dysplasia, according to the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association), is as follows:

  • Grade A: Absence of radiographic signs of hip dysplasia
  • Grade B: almost normal hip joints
  • Grade C: Mild signs of hip dysplasia
  • Grade D: Moderate signs of hip dysplasia
  • Grade E: Severe signs of hip dysplasia

5. Dog breeds more prone to hip dysplasia

Hip dysplasia tends to occur more frequently in large or giant breed dogs, in which there is a rapid increase in weight and size during the stages in which the osteoarticular system is forming.

Hip dysplasia is a more frequent disease in dogs of large or giant breeds; however, there are also medium-sized or small breeds that can suffer from it.

Among the dogs most prone to developing hip dysplasia, we find, indeed, quite large breeds, such as the German Shepherd, the Golden Retriever, the Labrador, the Bernese Mountain Dog, the Rottweiler, the Belgian Malinois, Saint Bernard, or the Mastiff, Neapolitan.

However, there are also medium-sized or small breeds that can suffer from this problem; in fact, according to the statistics that the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals has been collecting between 1974 and 2019, two of the breeds with the highest risk of developing hip dysplasia would be the Bulldog (English, American, and French) and the Pug.

6. Is there a cure for hip dysplasia in dogs?

Hip dysplasia is a degenerative disease, and unfortunately, there is no cure, although there are treatments that can help alleviate the pain and improve the quality of life of our dog.

Basically, treatments for hip dysplasia can be medical or surgical, depending on the severity of the damage, and it will be your veterinarian who can best advise you on what is best for your dog. Let’s look at the two options in more detail.

1. Medical Treatment for Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

If the hip dysplasia that your dog suffers from is not very serious, or if a surgical operation is not recommended, either due to the age of your furry or for some other reason, there are several guidelines that you can follow to improve its quality of life from day to day and to prevent the disease from getting worse.

The most common treatments to alleviate pain and inflammation are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). In stages of acute pain, corticosteroids can also be used, which are more powerful, although their long-term use is not advisable due to their multiple side effects.

The most common treatments to alleviate the pain and inflammation caused by hip dysplasia are anti-inflammatories, analgesics, and chondroprotectors.

In addition to anti-inflammatory medications, the veterinarian may also see the administration of an analgesic as convenient.

Likewise, chondroprotective for dogs is also highly recommended, which can be a great help to maintain, as far as possible, the health of the joints of our dogs.

Although chondroprotectives are not exactly medicines (but food supplements), they are of great help so that the body of our dogs obtains the necessary raw materials to form joint tissue and cartilage, and for this reason, they can be an excellent complement to a comprehensive treatment, which the veterinarian will determine.

In addition, being food supplements made from natural substances, they do not cause adverse side effects.

2. Surgical Treatment for Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

If the damage to the hip joint is very severe and medical treatment is not enough, your vet may recommend surgery.

Although surgery is expensive and, furthermore, nobody likes that our dog has to go through the operating room, due to the risks that it entails, surgical treatment has the advantage that, once the postoperative period is over, your dog will no longer need to maintain treatment for the rest of your days, and you will be able to lead a normal life.

When hip damage is very severe and medical treatment is not enough, your vet may find it necessary to resort to surgery.

Mainly, there are four surgical methods for hip dysplasia:

  • Triple hip osteotomy (OTC): this is a surgical procedure indicated in young dogs between five and nine months that presents an inflammatory process with dislocation of the femoral head but without joint degeneration. The goal is to reorient the acetabulum so that the head of the femur fits into it, thus increasing the stability of the joint.
  • Arthroplasty by excision of the head of the femur is a procedure indicated for dogs weighing less than 20 kg and consists of removing the head of the femur and replacing it with a fibrous pseudo-articulation, which will eliminate the pain caused by rubbing.
  • Complete replacement of the hip with a prosthesis: this technique is indicated for dogs over 20 kg that have already completed their growth and that have very severe hip dysplasia. It consists of the total elimination of the femoral head and neck, as well as the acetabulum, replacing them with artificial ones.
  • Pectinectomy or resection of the pectineus muscle: this is a surgical technique that consists of the removal of a portion of the pectineus muscle or tendon. It is an operation that serves to reduce pain in the joint for a while but does not actually prevent the progression of dysplasia.

7. How to prevent hip dysplasia in dogs

Since, as we have seen, hip dysplasia in dogs is a hereditary disease, the only really effective way to prevent it and end up eradicating it would be to prevent the dogs that suffer from it from reproducing, but this is something that depends on the responsibility of the breeders.

However, if you have a puppy of a breed predisposed to hip dysplasia or a mestizo that is a cross of one of them, you can do a series of things aimed at preventing the disease from developing.

  • Take good care of your puppy’s diet. If you give him to feed, choose one whose production has used quality animal protein, is grain-free, and is low in carbohydrates. If you decide on other options, such as the BARF diet, always consult a canine nutritionist to ensure that their diet is balanced and contains all the necessary nutrients.
  • Monitor the weight of the puppy, especially between 3 and 8 months, which is when the fastest growth stage occurs, especially if it is a large-breed dog. It is highly recommended that you avoid being overweight throughout your dog’s life so that his joints are not overloaded.
  • Prevent your pup from engaging in inappropriate or rough exercises, such as explosive runs, jumps, or spins in the air. Instead, opt for moderate exercise that encourages his muscles to develop properly and get stronger.
  • Finally, visit your veterinarian from time to time so that your dog can be checked, checking that his joints are in good condition and that they are developing correctly.

8. How to improve the quality of life of a dog with hip dysplasia

Apart from the medical treatments that we saw above and monitoring your dog’s diet to prevent it from becoming overweight, there are several things you can do to improve its quality of life.

We have already seen that it is advisable to prevent the dog from doing very demanding physical activities, but that moderate exercise is highly recommended. Take quiet walks that are not too long, and allow your furry friend to go at his own pace, sniffing his surroundings in a relaxed way.

An exercise that is excellent for dogs with hip dysplasia is swimming, as it will help improve their muscles and joint flexibility without excessively forcing their hips, so if your furry friend is one of those who enjoys a good dip, seize it. Do not forget to put a good life jacket for dogs on it beforehand.

Swimming is an excellent exercise for dogs with hip dysplasia, as it helps them improve their muscles and joint flexibility without excessively forcing their hips.

You can also complement your dog’s treatment with physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, or massage, which can be of great help in relieving joint pain as well as helping your dog strengthen the muscles in its legs.

It is vitally important that your dog can rest well, so you should provide him with a suitable bed, if possible, with an orthopedic mattress. Below, we show you our main recommendation in this regard, although you can also see some other suitable models in our article on dog beds.

PetFusion Dog Bed

In the event that your dog begins to have mobility problems due to hip dysplasia, there are several solutions that can be of great help. Let’s see them.

If your dog begins to have mobility problems due to hip dysplasia, you can help with a hip support harness, wheelchair, or dog cart.

On the one hand, you can get a hip support harness for dogs, which will provide security, stability, and support to your rear and will allow you to help your dog walk more easily and with less pain.

Ortocanis Hip Harness

Ortocanis Original Rear Support Harness for Dogs with Hip dysplasia, Elderly Dogs, with Mobility Problems – One Adjustable Size for Dogs Between 4 and 45 kg

For more serious cases of hip dysplasia, you have the possibility of getting a wheelchair for dogs, which will provide your furry friend with the necessary support in his hind legs.

Best Friend Mobility Large Dog Wheelchair

You can also choose to buy him a dog cart, which is a good option to be able to take your dog to a park or another area where he can walk a bit at his own pace without having to walk to get there.

Wooce Pet Dog Stroller

4-wheel cart for pets, Suitable for large dogs: supports up to 60 kg, Robust and resistant structure, With upper window and front entrance

9. FAQ: frequently asked questions about hip dysplasia in dogs

What is dog hip dysplasia?

It is a degenerative disease that is hereditary but not congenital (that is, it is not present at birth). It consists of an incorrect development of the coxofemoral joint during the growth of the dog, which causes the head of the femur to not fit well in the acetabulum (concave cavity found in the pelvis), so that it falls out of its natural place, causing inflammation of the joint and periarticular tissue, which will cause the dog pain and may eventually lead to osteoarthritis.

Is there a cure for hip dysplasia in dogs?

No, unfortunately, hip dysplasia is a degenerative disease that has no cure. However, there are several treatments that are effective in alleviating pain and delaying the worsening of the joint, such as anti-inflammatories, analgesics, and chondroprotectors. Surgical treatments can also be chosen, whenever the veterinarian considers them necessary.

What breeds of dogs are more prone to hip dysplasia?

Although hip dysplasia can affect any dog, it is much more common in large and giant breeds, which have very rapid growth. Some of the breeds most prone to developing this joint disease are the German Shepherd, the Mastiff, the Labrador, the Golden Retriever, and the Saint Bernard, among others. Among the smaller breeds, the most prone to dysplasia are the bulldog and pug types.

How long can a dog with hip dysplasia live?

A dog with hip dysplasia can live for many years since it is not a life-threatening disease. It is advisable, however, to provide him with adequate treatment and care so that his quality of life is the best possible.

What are the causes of hip dysplasia in dogs?

Although hip dysplasia is an inherited disease and, therefore, there are breeds that have a genetic predisposition to suffer from it, there are also several environmental factors that can cause the disease to develop, such as inadequate nutrition, being overweight, how quickly the puppy grows, or inadequate physical activity during the first months of the puppy’s life.

What are the symptoms of hip dysplasia in dogs?

The symptoms of hip dysplasia can vary depending on the degree to which a dog has it and the level of inflammation it has. Some of the most common symptoms that we may notice are decreased physical activity, difficulty climbing stairs, limping, stiffness, pain, “bunny hopping” running, hindquarters rocking when walking, difficulty standing, or loss of weight. of muscle mass in the hind legs.

And so far, our article on dog hip dysplasia has. I hope I have resolved any questions you may have on this topic.

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Disclaimer: While we do extensive research to ensure that the content we provide is accurate and truthful, please note that this article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as diagnostic or veterinary advice. We also recommend that, in any matter related to the health of your furry, you always consult your veterinarian and trust his advice.

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