Pet Care

Hip Dysplasia what does it mean?

canine hip dysplasia
Hip dysplasia, simply means Bad Formation. From the Latin Dis (bad) Plasis (formation) Bad Formation. It is a congenital condition which means your dog is born with the condition.

Hip Dysplasia is a congenital condition (they are born with the condition) of the canine hip. That is why it is so important that a dog who carries the gene is never bred. It is in many instances a debilitating condition however, this diagnosis is not the end of mobility for your dog. With the proper veterinary help and mobility aids, your dog can live a comfortable life with hip dysplasia.

Dogs carry most of their body weight on their forelimbs.
As the rear limbs weaken your dog (of any age) will compensate its body weight on its forelimbs.

Hip Dysplasia is the result of an ill bred dog. Why? Because as we mentioned the condition is congenital, which means it is inherited. It is important for you to know this when you bring a puppy home. The traits (behavioural and physical) that a puppy inherits cannot be changed. However, with proper care and management from an early age, your dog has the best chance of staying comfortable for its entire life.

How does Hip Dysplasia occur? It is a wear and tear of the joint over time due to misalignment and poor joint formation. Large breeds are especially prone to develop the condition. In some instances hip dysplasia may be the result of over exercising a puppy in its formative years. Hip Dysplasia in dogs has become a common condition for pet owners.
What is the best way to prevent hip dysplasia? Responsible breeding practices are the best method to lessen the incidence of hip dysplasia. Make sure your puppies are not over exercised. If you have a trainer or a dog walker, carefully supervise the training methods as well as the duration of a walk. Avoid an excessive amount of up hill walking for puppies. Puppies hips are like the rest of them, growing and forming so over use can damage them at a young age.

Large and Small Breeds prone to Hip Dysplasia
Many giant breeds are prone to the affliction, but with the advances in veterinary science it is becoming easier to help our ailing dogs. Giant breeds are Great Danes, Saint Bernards and dogs in that size category.
German Shepherds prone to hip dysplasia because of the sharp curve of their backs. This is the result of breeding. It places undue stress on the hinds of the dog. As they age a number of German Shepherds develop this painful condition.
Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers favourite breeds are prone to hip disorders as they age, or they may be born with weak hips.

Even matings between sires with normal hip joints and dams with only slight dysplasia resulted in significantly higher frequency of hip dysplasia in the offspring, when compared with the frequency if both sires and dams had normal hip joints. Frequency of hip dysplasia in the progeny of sires with normal hip joints varied greatly. 

Hedhammar, A., Olsson, S. E., Andersson, S. A., Persson, L., Pettersson, L., Olausson, A., & Sundgren, P. E. (1979). Canine hip dysplasia: study of heritability in 401 litters of German Shepherd dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association174(9), 1012–1016.
Often over looked, small breeds prone to hip dysplasia include but are not limited to Pugs, French Bulldogs, Basset Hounds. Pugs and French bulldogs in addition to potential dysplasia have to suffer their entire lives as brachycephalic breeds. With their rise in popularity as ‘apartment dogs’ and smash faced dogs becoming a trend, we are seeing an increase in the number of cases.

Fun Fact: How many Indian Pariah/ mixed breed dogs do you know of that suffer from hip dysplasia? Relatively few, and those who do are most often the result of injury. Why? Because these dogs have little or no incidence of inbreeding. Generations of irresponsible breeding and now rampant back yard breeding have turned dogs into business ventures. Pet owners turn to amateurs for advice online or offline instead of qualified professionals. If you suspect your dog has hip problems, go to your vet immediately.

BONE FACTS: they are store houses of minerals such as phosphorus and calcium. When required the body draws on these sources of minerals. That is why it is so important for puppies to receive adequate nutrition as they grow. And of course maintain a balanced diet for your dog – every meal need not be perfectly balanced. No human or animal receives sustenance that way- they receive the benefit of diet over a sustained period.
Can early spay and neuter cause hip dysplasia?1 There is some evidence that points to giant breed dogs developing hip dysplasia if they are neutered too early. This is because the bone plates have not had an adequate time to fuse. In addition there is a reduction of hormones in the system as a result of the spaying 2

The insides of your dog are complicated, you are looking at 4 potential problem points. If you see an imbalance in their gait. Or difficulty getting up. Maybe they do not get up as fast to come play or get a treat! All signs that a timely medical investigation can help. The earlier you catch a condition the better your chance of helping your pets.

Help your puppy from the day they come home. When a puppy comes home your family is caught up in ‘puppy mania!‘ So be sure not to over look some crucial basic care needs of a puppy. A normal healthy puppy is active, they run, jump and play, all in fun- but it can become too much of a good thing! This is all good to encourage, but remember that most puppies now live in apartments and flats. Flooring is your pups worst enemy! Invest in a floor covering that provides traction and is easy to clean.

My Dog has been diagnosed with Hip Dysplasia – what next?
1. Discuss the next course of action with your vet or a qualified pet physiotherapist. No social media advice, visit a qualified veterinarian.
2. Diagnose the problem with the help of your vet
3. Decide on a course of action- does your dog need weight management, physical therapy? Is there a course of action for you to follow? This may include a change in diet and exercise routines.

Life with a dog diagnosed with Hip Dysplasia is not have to be the end of an active life for your dog. Your dog can live comfortably with good management and treatment techniques.
Management must include pain, mobility and therapy. This regime you must keep on schedule and under the guidance of a trained professional. Therapies main stream and alternative work, but they must not be extrapolated from social media. What works for one dog does not necessarily work for another. Treatment and management is unique to each individual.

Therapies which help Hip Dysplasia in Dogs
1. Hydrotherapy – swimming is not hydrotherapy, taking your dog to a ‘doggie pool’ is not hydrotherapy. The advantages of hydrotherapy include reducing weight on the legs. However, water exerts force on your dogs limbs and muscles, depending on the severity of the injury and condition you may be doing more harm than good. So ‘hydrotherapy” is not merely swimming in a pool. It is a controlled guided therapy.
2. Massage- increases blood flow to the muscles and joints. This cannot be done after surgery, or if the dog has an injury and never without the supervision of a professional.
3. Laser Therapy- LASER (Light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation) this is a targeted therapy to be carried out by a veterinary practitioner
When is Physiotherapy not safe? Post surgery, or if your dog is injured. If your dog suffers from an illness other than a condition of hip disorders do not embark on a therapy without your vets advice Once your dog is diagnosed by a qualified veterinarian or canine physiotherapist discuss a course of treatment.

A hip dysplasia diagnosis does not mean your dog has to be confined to the house or stop moving. What can you use to get your dog walking or moving again? How can I do to help my dog at home? Make sure they have an even surface to walk on. Try and keep them on one level of your home if you have a multi level home . Pet Ramps and stairs help your pet navigate the home with minimal strain on their hip joints. A good grip for their paw pads on a walking surface is essential.

Walking and Mobility Aids for your dog
The most common question a dog owner has is will my dog walk again?
The answer is yes. Unless the condition is advanced, coupled with the dogs age, your dog is not immobilised with hip dysplasia.
There are a range of products which will help your dog stay mobile.
1. Harnesses which support their hips,
2.Wheelchairs – these are available in rear and four wheelchairs depending on the level of support your dog needs.
3. Dedicated hip dysplasia braces which provide support and allow dogs to move without further injury or stress to the joints.
4. Knee (stifle) braces – the hip, knee and spine are connected. Hip disorders may be coupled with knee (stifle) problems.
Your dog may need a combination of these aids. Do not try use these without the help of a professional.

Let’s put it this way, if you fracture your leg, you go to the doctor- get a splint or a crutch. Use the same procedure for your dog. Medical problems need medical solutions not-
Dr Google or Facebook to fix your leg or your dogs hip!

References and Resources


Leave a Reply