what is hip dysplasia?
Hip dysplasia in dogs is a malformation of the hip joint. It happens when bones don't develop properly, or they deteriorate over time. It can also occur as a result of an accident to the hip area. The femur bone is not fitting correctly into the hip socket. Ligaments are connective tissues which hold joints together. In dogs with hip dysplasia these ligaments can sometimes be weaker, and they allow the bones to grow apart -rather than holding them together.
symptoms of hip dysplasia
Unfortunately, Hip Dysplasia is a fairly common condition in dogs. It seems to be more serious in larger dogs. German Shepherds have a predisposition to hip dysplasia.
Hip dysplasia can get progressively worse. The symptoms include a reluctance to climb stairs, lameness, decreased activity, difficulty lying down or getting up from a lying position, or a strange hopping style of gait. Many of the symptoms are the same as for arthritis. The symptoms may be mild at first and get progressively worse. This makes it difficult for the owner to spot the condition in the early stages.
take your dog to the vet
If you suspect your dog has hip dysplasia you should take it to the vet for a check-up. The vet will conduct a physical examination of your dog and possibly take some x-rays.
Once hip dysplasia has been diagnosed, there are some things you can do which will help prevent it worsening. These include introducing a diet to prevent weight gain and starting a mild exercise program to build muscle mass around the hip. You should design the exercise program in consultation with your vet. In fact, the regime is very similar to the one used for treatment of arthritis.
Your vet may decide to prescribe some painkillers or anti-inflammatory drugs to make your dog more comfortable. In more severe cases surgery may be necessary. There are various surgical options which you should discuss with your vet. These include rebuilding of the joint or, in some cases, a complete joint replacement. All these options are quite expensive.
there is a genetic factor to hip dysplasia
There is usually a genetic factor involved in hip dysplasia. Selective breeding will help lower the incidence of this disease in the future. The breed society of the Leonberger dog has done a good job of this and is an example of what can be done.
Related Article: The Leonberger Dog.