If you notice that your dog is limping, having trouble getting up, or having trouble going up and down stairs, he or she might be suffering from hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a condition where the thigh bone (femur) of the hind leg doesn’t fit correctly in the pelvic socket. Because the bone doesn’t fit correctly, there is abnormal wear and tear in the joint socket.
If hip dysplasia isn’t managed, the cartilage in your dog’s hips can break down, and he or she could develop osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease. Some dogs with severe hip dysplasia may even need hip replacement surgery. Learn what causes hip dysplasia and how to treat it.
What Causes Hip Dysplasia in Dogs?
Any dog can suffer from hip dysplasia, but some breeds are genetically prone to develop this condition. Hip dysplasia is mainly seen in large breeds like:
- German shepherds
- Golden retrievers
- Staffordshire terriers
- St. Bernards
Small dog breeds like spaniels, French bulldogs, and pugs are not as prone to developing hip dysplasia but can still be affected.
Besides genetic predispositions, dogs that are overweight or obese can develop this condition since excess weight places strain on joints. A survey conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention found that over 55% of all dogs are classified as overweight or obese. If needed, your veterinarian can put together a weight loss plan tailored to your dog.
How Is Hip Dysplasia Diagnosed?
Besides limping, watch out for other telltale signs in your dog, like:
- A narrow stance when standing
- Loss of muscle mass in thighs
- Clicking or grating sounds in their joints when they move
- Larger shoulder muscles to compensate for hind leg weakness
- Decreased activity or resistance to long walks
If you notice one or all of these symptoms, it’s important to take your dog into the veterinarian for an exam. Your vet will likely perform a physical and check your dog’s hind legs to see if there’s a reduced range of motion.
The vet may take an X-ray of the femur to see how the bone fits into the pelvic socket. Once your vet has a clearer picture of your dog’s hip dysplasia, he or she can then recommend a treatment plan.
How Can Weight-Related Hip Dysplasia Be Treated?
If hip dysplasia is caused by excess weight, the goal may be to get your dog down to a healthy weight through a diet and exercise regimen. Hydrotherapy may also be recommended.
During this kind of therapy, your dog would be professionally supervised on a treadmill that is semi-submerged in water. This therapy is great because it takes some of the stress and pain off the hip joints but still allows your dog to improve his or her range of motion. This therapy is a great way to help your dog get the exercise he or she needs to lose weight.
What Other Treatments Are Available?
Again, while severe hip dysplasia may require surgical interventions to repair or replace the hip joint, you can do lots of things for your pup before it gets to this point.
For instance, having your dog take anti-inflammatory medications may be enough to relive his or her hip dysplasia symptoms. You can also look into laser therapy. Laser therapy can be helpful for hip dysplasia since it stimulates damaged cells, relieves pain, improves circulation, and reduces inflammation.
Your vet may ask you to do things at home to improve your dog’s condition. They may ask you to add supplements to your dog’s diet. For instance, if your dog suffers from arthritis, then his or her hip dysplasia may be relieved with glucosamine supplements. The ingredients in this can reduce inflammation and protect cartilage within the joint socket.
Contact us at 1st Pet Veterinary Centers for more information on how to treat your dog’s hip dysplasia.