Canine Hip Dysplasia Updates and FAQs

Hip dysplasia develops as puppies grow, causing looseness (i.e., laxity) in their hip joints, potentially leading to arthritis, pain, and joint breakdown. Many dog owners have long feared this condition, because hip dysplasia can significantly reduce a pooch’s quality of life and effective treatment has been historically limited. However, many new and existing treatment options can help. Our All Creatures Animal Hospital team shares updated answers to your frequently asked questions (FAQs) about canine hip dysplasia.

Question: What causes hip dysplasia in dogs?

Answer: Hip dysplasia develops as a dog grows, ultimately resulting in loose hip joints and abnormal mechanics that will eventually lead to severe arthritis and pain. Most cases occur in large- and giant-breed dogs and more frequently among purebreds, suggesting that the biggest risk factors are genetic. The specific genes that contribute to hip dysplasia development likely vary among breeds, and research has long been underway to pinpoint the exact causes. Nutrition and growth rate can also heavily influence skeletal development, which can affect a dog’s hip dysplasia risk.

Q: Can I prevent hip dysplasia from developing in my puppy?

A: If your puppy was born with genes that predispose them to developing hip dysplasia, your veterinarian likely cannot stop the condition without surgical intervention. When you purchase a purebred, large-breed puppy, ensure the breeder has taken steps to reduce hip dysplasia’s incidence through an X-ray examination, screening the parent dogs for hip problems after they are 1 to 2 years old. Standard X-rays in dogs younger than this are inaccurate.

The best way to identify hip dysplasia in a young puppy is through a PennHip X-ray examination. This specialized test is available through select veterinary offices that are trained in a specific technique through which they can identify puppies as young as 10 weeks. If a veterinarian detects a puppy’s hip dysplasia before the dog is 10 months of age, surgery can correct the joint deformity and prevent problems from ever developing. By feeding your puppy a diet for large breeds, you can also help prevent joint problems associated with rapid growth. 

Q: How do I know if my dog has hip dysplasia?

A: If you have a puppy or young adult dog, you will likely not know if they have hip dysplasia until they begin exhibiting signs. Severe hip joint laxity can lead to problematic joint changes and pain in dogs as young as 6 months, but signs might not develop until middle age for dogs with mild disease. During your pup’s routine physical examination, our All Creatures Animal Hospital veterinary team may detect hip joint laxity, decreased range of motion, or a grinding sensation (i.e., crepitus). Your dog may have hip dysplasia if they exhibit these signs:

  • Hind end lameness, especially after exercise
  • Shifting weight to the front legs
  • Bunny-hopping gait (i.e., running with their rear legs moving together)
  • Decreased play or activity
  • Stiffness after resting
  • Trouble jumping or doing stairs
  • Awkward sitting positions

Q: My puppy has hip dysplasia, now what?

A: The earlier a puppy is diagnosed with hip dysplasia, the more treatment options are available that will help them live a normal, pain-free life. A puppy younger than 18 weeks can have a juvenile pubic symphysiodesis (JPS) procedure, which closes a growth plate on the pelvis and alters the pelvic shape to provide a normal, healthy hip socket. A puppy between 18 weeks and 10 months can have a triple (or double) pelvic osteotomy procedure, which rotates parts of the pelvis so the hip socket covers the ball joint more completely. 

Q: What treatments are available for adult dogs recently diagnosed with hip dysplasia?

A: An adult dog diagnosed with hip dysplasia later in life or who did not have surgery as a puppy still has many treatment options. Surgical options depend on the amount of hip joint damage that has already occurred. In a total hip replacement, our All Creatures Animal Hospital team uses metal and plastic components to create an artificial joint. If a dog has severely arthritic hips, we perform a femoral head ostectomy (FHO), a salvage procedure through which we remove the femur’s entire ball to stop the painful friction within the abnormal joint. Scar tissue, muscle, and ligaments in the area support the new, false joint. 

If you decide to forgo your dog’s surgery, live a long distance from a specialty surgeon, or your furry pal is a poor surgical candidate, medical treatments can help alleviate your pooch’s pain. Hip dysplasia medical management treatments include anti-inflammatory and pain medications, joint supplements, physical therapy, laser treatments, or alternative medicine. Keeping your pet lean and trim is also important to help reduce hip joint stress.

The veterinary profession has made great strides in being able to offer effective treatment options that help dogs with hip dysplasia live pain-free lives. Dogs are stoic and may hide their pain, but when your four-legged friend has regular checkups with our All Creatures Animal Hospital team, we can detect abnormal joint mechanics and start treatment as early as possible. Contact us if your puppy or adult dog exhibits hip dysplasia signs or to schedule your pooch’s next routine wellness checkup.

By |2024-02-15T00:12:22+00:00September 1st, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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