Hip Dysplasia in Dogs – By: Dr. Cindy Krane
Hip Dysplasia in Dogs – By: Dr. Cindy KraneDate: August 1, 2016
Hip dysplasia is defined as abnormal growth or development of the hips. It occurs in the growing phase of a puppy, especially large breed puppies like Goldens, Labs, German Shepherds and results in a poorly fitted ball and socket joint. The socket (acetabulum) gets flattened and the ball (head of the femur) isn’t held tightly in place resulting in an unstable joint. The body tries to compensate for this by laying down new bone around the joint to help stabilize it. This extra bone is what is referred to as DJD (Degenerative Joint Disease) resulting in pain. Dogs with hip dysplasia manifest pain by slowing down, decreasing their activity level, have difficulty rising or difficulty with stairs and swiveling their hips or bunny hopping.
The disease is multi-factorial, the primary cause is genetic. Other factors include exercise habits, nutrition and rate of growth.
Diagnosis of hip dysplasia is made by the above history, physical examination and palpation as well as radiographs of the hips. Treatments options include medical management and surgical intervention. Medical management consists of nutritional supplementation, pain medication (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory), physical therapy, massage and low impact exercise such as leash walking and swimming as well as diet and weight control.
When surgery is indicated there are many different techniques depending upon the age of the dog and severity of the disease. They include Triple Pelvic Osteotomy (to cut and reshape the hip joint), Femoral Head Ostectomy (removing the head of the femur), and Total Hip Replacement (prosthetic hip). A new technique using a bone graph to build up the joint (called a Darthroplasty) is currently being studied.
If you think your dog is at risk for or suffering from hip dysplasia, it is important to contact your veterinarian in a timely fashion as this is a progressive and debilitating disease. If you’re interested in breeding your dog, you can have their hips examined and certified by either the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) or PennHip Registration. This can help reduce the incidence of hip dysplasia in future litters.