Canine hip dysplasia

Canine hip dysplasia

What is canine hip dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia is an inherited disease in dogs that causes the acetabulum and femur head to develop in an abnormal fashion. Hip dysplasia is more common in large and heavy breeds, such as Saint Bernard dogs, Mastiffs and Rotweillers, but it can also affect smaller breeds such as Cocker spaniels and Springer spaniels. Hip dysplasia is not only seen in pure breeds; it occurs in mixed breeds as well.

The hip of your dog consists of a sort of “ball-in-socket” construction that allows the hip to move around and be flexible. In a dog suffering from hip dysplasia, the “ball” does not fit as well in the socket as it should. When the ball does not fit properly, the result is friction which in turn causes damage and can be very painful for the dog. Each time the affected dog places weight on the joint, the friction will strain the joint capsule. Eventually, this straining will cause permanent damage to the cartilage and inflammatory proteins will be released inside the hip.

Hip dysplasia and age

Many dog owners believe that hip dysplasia and other forms of arthritis is a problem for old dogs only, but the truth is that some dogs develop hip dysplasia problems while still in their early youth.

When a young dog develops hip dysplasia, it is normally a form called acute hip dysplasia. Acute hip dysplasia causes severe hip pains for the dog and can lead to anything from mild to significant lameness. The acute stage can last from weeks to several months.

The chronic stage of hip dysplasia can develop in dogs less one year of age, but it is more common in older dogs. Chronic hip dysplasia is characterized by a gradual decrease of the range-of-motion of the hips. Just like acute dysplasia, the condition is painful for the dog.   

Hip dysplasia symptoms in dogs

A dog with hip dysplasia can display symptoms such as reluctance to climb stairs and jump (e.g. into the car), difficulty rising after resting, and a generally decreased activity level. Some dogs develop rear limb lameness, and the gait can become swaggering or bunny-hopping. The dog will experience pain from the hip or hips. Soreness can occur after exercise.

It should be noted that some dogs display no or only minimal outward signs of hip dysplasia even though they are suffering from significant hip dysplasia.

Hip dysplasia treatment for dogs

Several different treatments are available for dogs with hip dysplasia. In some dogs, non-surgical treatment can be efficient, at least for a while. Physical therapy and controlled exercise are two commonly used treatments for dogs with hip dysplasia. If your dog is overweight, a weight loss program is recommended. Pain medication can also make life more pleasant for a dog with hip dysplasia.

When it comes to surgical treatment, there are two main methods for dealing with hip dysplasia in dogs: prophylactic procedures and therapeutic procedures. The aim of prophylactic procedures is to prevent the progression of arthritis, e.g. by performing a triple pelvic osteotomy or pubic symphysiodesis. Therapeutic procedures aim to treat or salvage hips that are already suffering from substantial arthritis. You dog can for instance get a femoral head ostectomy or a complete hip replacement. There are also and investigational surgeries such as the DARthroplasty.

Skeletal and muscular disorders in dogs: (click for more info)
Canine hip dysplasia
Congenital vertebral anomalies in dogs
Craniomandibular osteopathy in dogs
Elbow dysplasia in dogs
Hypertrophic Osteodystrophy in dogs
Hypertrophic Osteopathy in dogs
Legg-Calvé-Perthes syndrome in dogs
Luxating patella in dogs
Masticatory muscle myositis in dogs
Masticatory Muscle Myositis (MMM) and Extraocular Myositis (EOM) in dogs
Osteoarthritis in dogs
Osteochondritis Dissecans in dogs
Panosteitis in dogs
Spondylosis in dogs