It starts off slow, but you soon begin to notice that your dog’s movement is stiff and seems more and more painful as they walk. You take them to the vet, fearing the worst, and the diagnosis is two words: hip dysplasia. These two words terrify all dog owners, especially those with larger canines, but managing your dog’s hip dysplasia is easier than you think.
Canine hip dysplasia is an abnormal formation of the hip socket. If severe, it can cause crippling lameness and painful arthritis. In most cases, hip dysplasia is hereditary and very common in larger dog breeds, such as Great Danes, Saint Bernards, Labrador Retrievers, and German Shepherds.
Causes of Hip Dysplasia
Outside of genetics, hip dysplasia can be worsened by a few key factors such as weight, growth rate, and exercise, according to the American Kennel Club.
Improper nutrition is a large contributor. Feeding your puppy the wrong food can lead to excessive growth. Growing too quickly can strain on your dog’s bones, which can lead to disorders such as hip dysplasia. Large dog breeds have different nutritional requirements when they are maturing.They need food that is lower in fat, calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D.
Too much food is also a concern. Obesity adds more stress to your dogs joints, which can worsen pre-existing conditions. Talk to your vet about the best diet for your puppy and dog to keep them in peak physical condition. Here is a guide on how to choose the best dog food to get you started.
Improper exercising can hurt your dog as well. If your dog is a “weekend warrior,” you’re putting them at risk for hip, joint and knee injuries. Think of it like this: if you prepare for a 5-hour hike on Saturday by only walking to your mailbox Monday through Friday, you’re not going to be physically ready for the challenge. Your dog is the same way. Over-exercising inflames joints and tendons, causing them to be at higher risk for injury. The same can be said for dogs that don’t like to exercise: muscle atrophy can contribute to hip dysplasia, as joints becomes weaker without consistent movement. Exercising also benefits dogs with arthritis, as it strengthens their muscles and helps support their aching joints.
Treating Canine Hip Dysplasia
If your dog’s hip dysplasia is caught early or is mild, it may not need surgery. There are plenty of non-invasive treatment options available.
A brace can help your dog tremendously. When treating hip dysplasia, your vet will usually recommend that you limit your dog’s movement and reduce the weight on the joint. A brace does all of this. Doggy Brace has options that can fit any size canine, from small to giant.
A dog leg brace works by wrapping around your dog’s hind leg and up over their back. It is designed for cranial cruciate ligament injuries and proven to reduce the weight your dog puts on its hip and knee. It limits movement so your canine cannot race off and exacerbate their injury. While it does not support the hip, it does allow them to place more weight on their affected limb, comfortably.
Vets also recommend physical therapy to strengthen the joint, anti-inflammatory medications and joint fluid modifiers.
Surgery can also be an option, though it is invasive and expensive. If you opt for surgery, your dog can go through double or triple pelvic osteotomy (performed on puppies less than 10 months old), femoral head ostectomy (creating a false hip joint by cutting off the femoral head), or a total hip replacement.
Preventing Canine Hip Dysplasia
Not all cases of hip dysplasia can be prevented, but you can prolong your dog’s hip joint’s health and take steps to reduce your dog’s risk of developing the condition.
Start young: put your puppy on the right diet immediately to prevent excessive growth and give them a head start with healthy bones and joints.
As your puppy grows, make sure they are getting the proper amount of exercise and keeping off unwanted weight.
The best way to know your dog’s risk for hip dysplasia is to screen their breeding for the condition. The Orthopedic Foundation of Animals health testing service can help breeders determine the condition of their dogs’ hips. If you are about to purchase your pup from a breeder, be sure you ask about their ancestry’s health history. If the mother or father have hip dysplasia, it is likely your puppy will develop it as well.
Hip dysplasia is a scary diagnosis, but your dog can still live a happy and playful life with the condition. Treatment options are available, such as braces, medications and surgery, and you can take steps early in their life to help prevent the condition or reduce the risk of your dog getting severe hip problems in the future.
If you’re worried that your dog is at risk, talk with your vet and visit Doggy Brace to get a head start on supporting your dog’s joints.