Canine Hip Dysplasia

By Claudia Bensimoun

Hip dysplasia (CHD) is a hereditary, developmental disease and an environmentally influenced disease when both hip joints fail to develop correctly. Dogs that have hip dysplasia will suffer from a partial dislocation, or in severe cases, will have a complete dislocation of the hip joints.  

The American College of Veterinary Surgeons (ACVS)explains that “The cause of CHD is multifactorial; however, hereditary (genetics) is the biggest single risk factor. Rapid weight gain and growth through excessive nutritional intake can complicate the development of CHD. Hip dysplasia occurs most commonly in large breed dogs.”

As time progresses, the cartilage lining the joint surfaces wears down due to abnormal stress and strain placed on the joint, with arthritis results. This blog will discuss how hip dysplasia is a crippling and painful genetic disease and how supplements can help possible surgical techniques to relieve pain and lameness.

Breeds Most Affected by Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia can affect any dog breed, yet some dog breeds like the German Shepherd are affected more often. It’s also mostly seen in larger dog breeds like the Golden Retriever, St. Bernard, Labrador Retriever, Bernese Mountain Dog, Newfoundland, Rottweiler, and other giant-sized breeds. 

The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) says that “No one can predict when or even if a dysplastic dog will start showing clinical signs of lameness due to pain. The severity of the disease can be affected by environmental factors, such as caloric intake or level of exercise. There are a number of dysplastic dogs with severe arthritis that run, jump, and play as if nothing is wrong and some dogs with barely any arthritic x-ray evidence that are severely lame.”

Hip dysplasia can be divided into two groups. This would include:

. Adolescent dogs without arthritis but with significant hip laxity.

. Senior dogs that have developed hip arthritis due to CHD.

Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia

The main symptoms of CHD may start as early as four weeks of age, yet in most cases, CHD tends to show up between 8 to 12 months of age. Posterior pains, unsteadiness of the back limbs, and difficulty rising from a prone position, as well as problems moving or exercising, are clinical signs of hip dysplasia. 

In less severe cases, signs may only show up after lots of activity and exercise. Your vet will diagnose hip dysplasia by doing x-rays of suspected joints and looking at your dog’s genetic background.

ACVS says that “The most accurate x-ray method at an early age is the PennHIP distraction method. This is a quantitative method that measures the actual amount of hip laxity. It accurately predicts whether a puppy will develop hip dysplasia and what surgical options would be best suited to prevent crippling arthritis. Special training and equipment are necessary to perform this test. PennHIP provides an independent written confirmation of CHD for the pet owner and examining veterinarian.”

Symptoms include:

  • Reluctance to get up or jump
  • Shifting weight to the front limbs
  • Loss of muscle on the rear limbs
  • Hip pain
  • Lameness

What is PennHIP?

This is a multifaceted radiographic screening method used on pets for hip evaluation. This is an extremely accurate method because of its ability to predict the onset of osteoarthritis. (OA) This is also referred to as degenerative joint disease (DJD) and the hallmark of hip dysplasia resulting in pain and disability in dogs that have been affected.

PennHIP also has a team of veterinarians trained to perform the PennHIP methodology. This is comprised of three components which include the following:

. Diagnostic radiographic technique

. The network of trained veterinarians

. Medical database for scientific analysis

Anti-Inflammatory Pet Meds

Dogs that are poor candidates for surgery do well with anti-inflammatory medications that help decrease joint pain and discomfort linked to hip dysplasia. Your vet may prescribe disease-modifying osteoarthritis drugs (DMOADs) like glycosaminoglycan’s, glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and hyaluronic acid to help stimulate repair of the damaged cartilage in dogs.

Integrative Treatment

Today, pet parents are also opting for multi-modal pain management to help keep dogs comfortable and allow for joint improvement. This means employing multiple modalities, which would include supplements, and herbs together with other therapies. Omega-3 and nine fatty acids are used to combat inflammation and are best when given a body weight-appropriate dose. The best Omega 3 and 9 fatty acids are most effective when derived from fish oils, compared to vegetarian sources.

Joint Supplements

A high-quality nutraceutical will promote hip and joint health in puppies and dogs and increase hyaluronic acid and collagen production in the joints. Here’s the take on the most popular supplements for dogs with hip dysplasia.

. Glucosamine, Chondroitin & MSM may be beneficial in relieving joint discomfort & stiffness.

. MSM may help chronic joint pain & may combat joint health deterioration

. Omega-3 fatty acids with EPA & DHA may help to reduce inflammation from osteoarthritis.

. Shark cartilage may help connect connective tissue, fortify joints, bones, ligaments, and tendons.

. CBD may be beneficial in helping ease chronic pain relief and inflammation.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, your pup will not be prone to life-altering genetic and environmental conditions like hip dysplasia. This progressive and degenerative disease in mild and moderate cases can be treated with supplements, a healthy diet, and pain relievers prescribed by your veterinarian. Keep in mind that you’ll need to work together with your vet, and in severe cases, dogs may benefit from surgery to rebuild or remove the bone. 

Preventing obesity in dogs with hip dysplasia is key to limiting joint strain that can worsen the condition. Light exercise and short walks will help improve your dog’s condition, provided that your furry best friend is stable enough for activity. As usual, reach out to your vet for information about acupuncture, herb treatments like ginger and celery root for inflammation, as well as swimming and laser therapy.


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