Dogs, Pet Care, Pet Health, Rehabilitation, Veterinarian

Labrador Retrievers and Hip Dysplasia

labradors and hip dysplasia

“My Labrador retriever puppy suffers from hip dysplasia.” This is a recurring plea of desperate calls and emails we receive for advice or solutions. As long time pet owners we identity with the anguish. But as ‘non vets’ we are in the impossible position of only giving advice. We encourage families only consult qualified vets or physiotherapists.

What is Hip Dysplasia ?

Hip dysplasia is a condition that affects the hip joint and is common in many dog breeds, including Labrador Retrievers. It is an inherited condition, meaning it passes down from parents to offspring.

In dogs with hip dysplasia, the hip joint does not form correctly, which can result in pain, lameness, and eventually arthritis. While there is no cure for hip dysplasia, there are several treatment options available to help manage the condition and reduce pain.

For Labrador Retrievers, the risk of developing hip dysplasia is reduced by breeding only from dogs that have been screened for the condition and found to be free of it. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) offers a hip dysplasia screening program for dogs, which involves taking x-rays of the hips and submitting them to the OFA for evaluation.

In addition to breeding from screened dogs, owners of Labrador Retrievers can take steps to help reduce the risk of their dogs developing hip dysplasia. This includes maintaining a healthy weight, providing regular exercise, and avoiding activities that put excessive strain on the hips, such as jumping from heights or running on hard surfaces.

If you are concerned that your Labrador Retriever may have hip dysplasia, it is important to consult with a veterinarian. Your vet can perform a physical exam and recommend appropriate diagnostic testing, such as x-rays, to determine if your dog has the condition. Treatment options may include pain management, physical therapy, and surgery in severe cases.

How does breeding cause hip dysplasia in dogs?

Breeding does not directly cause hip dysplasia in dogs, but it can contribute to the prevalence of the condition in certain breeds. Hip dysplasia is an inherited condition, which means that it is passed down from a dog’s parents to their offspring.

In breeds that are prone to hip dysplasia, such as the Labrador Retriever, breeding dogs with the condition increases the likelihood of their offspring developing it as well. This is because the genes responsible for hip dysplasia are passed down from the parents to their offspring.

Breeding dogs that are free of hip dysplasia or have a lower risk of developing the condition. It can help to reduce the prevalence of hip dysplasia in the breed. This can be accomplished through hip dysplasia screening programs. They involve taking x-rays of the hips to evaluate their structure and look for signs of the condition.

In addition to genetics, other factors can contribute to the development of hip dysplasia in dogs, including diet, exercise, and environmental factors. Maintaining a healthy weight, providing regular exercise, and avoiding activities that put excessive strain on the hips can help to reduce the risk of hip dysplasia in dogs.

Managing Hip Dysplasia for Dogs

Hip dysplasia is a chronic condition that affects the hip joint and can cause pain, stiffness, and lameness in dogs. There is no cure for hip dysplasia. However, there are management strategies to help to reduce pain and improve mobility for dogs with the condition.

  1. Weight management: Maintaining a healthy weight is important for dogs with hip dysplasia. As excess weight can put additional stress on the hips and exacerbate the condition. Feeding a high-quality, balanced diet and avoiding overfeeding can help to keep your dog at a healthy weight.
  2. Exercise: Regular, low-impact exercise can help to keep the muscles around the hip joint strong and improve mobility. Walking, swimming, and gentle stretching exercises can all be beneficial. It is best for your dog to avoid high-impact activities such as jumping, running, or playing fetch.
  3. Pain management: There are several medications that can help to manage pain and inflammation associated with hip dysplasia. These include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, and analgesics. These medications must only be used under the guidance of a veterinarian.
  4. Physical therapy: Helps to improve range of motion, reduce pain, and improve muscle strength for dogs with hip dysplasia. This can include massage, hydrotherapy, and gentle exercises.
  5. Surgery: In severe cases of hip dysplasia, surgery may be recommended. The two most common surgical procedures for hip dysplasia are total hip replacement and femoral head ostectomy. These surgeries can help to improve mobility and reduce pain for dogs with advanced hip dysplasia.

If you suspect that your dog has hip dysplasia, it is important to consult with a veterinarian. They can perform a physical exam. They will take x-rays of the hips, and recommend appropriate treatment options based on the severity of the condition. With proper management, many dogs with hip dysplasia can lead happy, active lives.

Can small breed dogs suffer from Canine Hip Dysplasia ?

Yes, small breed dogs can also suffer from canine hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is an inherited condition, which means that it is caused by a genetic predisposition to the condition. It is more commonly seen in larger breeds, smaller breeds can also inherit the genes that lead to hip dysplasia.

Small breeds that are known to be at risk for hip dysplasia include the Pomeranian, Shih Tzu, and French Bulldog. However, the overall incidence of hip dysplasia in small breeds is lower than in larger breeds.

What are the symptoms of hip dysplasia in small breed dogs?

They may include
difficulty standing up or climbing stairs
reluctance to exercise
a decreased range of motion in the hips

Treatment options for hip dysplasia in small breed dogs are similar to those for larger breeds. It includes weight management, exercise, pain management, and surgery in severe cases.

Concluding thoughts and responsibilities of the pet industry

A responsible pet industry must encourage education for families looking to bring pets into their home. It is not enough for us as an industry to provide goods and services to treat a problem. This is especially true if we know the cause of it. We know this explosion of hip dysplasia in large and small breeds is due to questionable breeding practises.


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