You may tend to think of hip problems as a type of ailment most likely to affect your grandparents or elderly parents. You wouldn’t necessarily expect this to be something that could impact on your happy, bouncy little pup!
But in reality, hip problems can affect people of all ages and all species! Hip dysplasia is a particularly common form of hip complaint that may afflict your canine companion. In this post, we’ll take a look at what hip dysplasia does and how you can get your furry friend running freely once again.
What is Hip Dysplasia in Dogs?
So, dog hip dysplasia is a condition where the ball and socket joint in the dog’s hip is malformed. This prevents the ball in the ball joint from properly meeting the socket, which in turn causes the joint to rub and grind against the bone instead of moving smoothly inside.
This condition can develop as a result of both genetic and environmental factors. That is to say that a dog might have a ‘predisposition’ toward dog hip dysplasia since birth, but that lifestyle factors cause the deterioration to accelerate, resulting in the discomfort.
Unlike many hip problems in humans, hip dysplasia actually tends to appear earlier in a dog’s life, usually while they are still physically immature. Early onset is anything before four months of age, while late onset starts later and is due to osteoarthritis.
Signs and Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs
The first signs of dog hip dysplasia are joint looseness or ‘laxity’. This can be felt if you try manually manipulating the joint.
It’s also likely that your dog will experience pain the affected area. This will result in a reduction in physical activity and they may refuse to run or to jump. They might also have difficulty when it comes to ascending stairs etc. They may begin to show physical signs of discomfort, such as whining, or walking with one leg held in the air to avoid putting weight on it. This is called hind-limb lameness. They might also have an unusual gait, potentially what is known as ‘bunny hopping’. Muscle mass may eventually begin to be lost in the affected area too.
Supplements to Help Hip Dysplasia in Dogs
There are numerous options to help treat dog hip dysplasia. These generally revolve around strengthening the bone and lubricating the joints, as well as combating inflammation in the area. One of the most popular supplements for dog hip dysplasia is glucosamine. Glucosamine is a natural occurring substance that is created in the body.
Omega 3 is another popular supplements as this can reduce inflammation by reducing the relative ratio of omega 6: omega 3. While omega 6 is an important element in the human and doggy diet, it can actually lead to inflammation when it is allowed to get too high. This can cause serious problems, which can be solved simply by altering the balance via consumption of extra omega 3. Omega 3 also has a number of other health benefits, making it a good supplement in general.
Antioxidants can also sometimes be used to further reduce inflammation, as can NSAIDs – non-steroidal anti-inflammatories although these are medications rather than supplements. A range of analgesics (pain killers) may also be used, though users should be careful with these in case they cause the dog to ignore signs of pain and to become overly active on their damaged joint.
Finally, nutrients like calcium will strengthen the bone, while both vitamin D and magnesium can improve the absorption of that calcium in order to ensure it gets to the bones to do good work.
Some vets and others recommend the use of homeopathic remedies. It is important to be careful when using homeopathic remedies however, seeing as thee are not actually scientifically proven to have any effect and don’t work through any method that is backed by science.
Generally ensuring your dog has a healthy and full diet, gets plenty of sleep and has exercise will all help them to minimize the deterioration and damage that dog hip dysplasia can cause.
Finally, there is the option for surgery in dogs that can’t easily be treated. A TPO or triple pelvic osteotomy is a good choice for puppies that are less than two years old with no arthritis. This involves repositioning of the acetabular socket, which in turn improves the fit.
Other options include femoral head ostectomy, dorsal acetabular rim arthroplasty and total hip replacement. Speak with your vet about the best options for your pup and they will advise you in kind.
Hip dysplasia is a common condition and needn’t be a serious problem or get in the way of your dog’s health and happiness. However, it is nevertheless very important that you get it looked at, provide your pooch with the right nutrition and supplements and act on the advice of your vet. It is all part of being a pet owner!