What Is Hip Dysplasia In Canines?

Have you noticed your pup not being able to get up as easily from lying down? Do they seem stiff in the hips or seem to be losing muscle mass? Or maybe they don’t want to participate in activities they once enjoyed doing with you? Canine hip dysplasia may be to blame.

But don’t worry, this doesn’t mean your dog has to have a hard time getting around!

Canine hip dysplasia, or CHD, is defined by the lack of coverage of the femoral head (upper thigh bone) into the socket (part of the pelvis).

This often results in abnormal changes to the soft tissues and musculature of the back legs as they struggle to stabilize the joint without the proper support from the bony structures mentioned above. Over time, abnormal hip joint movement causes arthritis to develop, leading to further issues.

What Breeds Get Hip Dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia is an inherited condition and remains at a very high prevalence in certain dog breeds, especially large breeds although small dogs are certainly not exempt.

Newfoundlands, Rottweilers, German Shepherds, Bulldogs, Saint Bernards, Neapolitan Mastiffs, Pugs, and Retrievers are known for a high rate of HD even with concerted efforts to eliminate this orthopedic condition through selective breeding.

Genetics is not the only factor, however, with reproductive status, age, weight, conformation, and diet all playing a potential role in a dog’s development of hip dysplasia. Research has shown that dogs who are spayed or neutered too early in life are more likely to be affected as well. An increase in age and weight is also associated with the development and diagnosis of hip dysplasia and arthritis.

Signs and Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia

CHD may start out with mild symptoms at a young age that aren’t noticeable until middle age or later. You may start to notice a few of the following symptoms that develop later on in life from hip dysplasia causing osteoarthritis in the hip joint. Some signs you may notice include:

  • Change in activity tolerance
  • Reluctance to jump or down
  • Avoids using the stairs
  • Exhibit a bunny-hopping gait
  • Have underdeveloped back-leg musculature
  • Pain and stiffness in the hip
  • Avoids extension in the hip during walking or running
  • Avoids stretching of the back legs

Diagnosing Hip Dysplasia

The decision to treat surgically or conservatively depends on the individual dog’s severity of hip dysplasia and age, but in almost every situation a Canine Rehabilitation Therapist can make a significant impact on that dog’s quality of life.

Surgery may be required in some cases to ensure the best outcome for your dog. Two of the more common procedures are the Total Hip Replacement (THR) and the Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO). Before choosing the surgical route, it is important to know what other options are available to you and your dog that helps you to manage their condition in a less invasive manner.

How Alpha Animal Rehabilitation and Fitness Can Help

At Alpha Anmal Rehabilitation and Fitness, a Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner will look at your dog’s strength, flexibility, and how the joints are moving, assess gait and posture, and observe how they are accomplishing their everyday functional tasks around the home. After assessing your pup, they use canine massage therapy, manual therapy techniques, and a tailored plan of care to address all of your dog’s issues. This will help to provide much-needed stability to the hip joint and make moving around easier and less painful.

Making sure your dog maintains a healthy weight, through an appropriate diet and joint supplements, is imperative whether or not you choose surgery. Daily exercise, pain medication when necessary, and dog rehabilitation can make all the difference with this common orthopedic condition.

As Canine Rehab Practitioners, we can provide you with a multitude of ways to improve your dog’s quality of life through education, massage therapy, manual therapy, home modifications, and exercises specific to your dog and where they are today.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, please contact Alpha Animal Rehabilitation and Fitness at (908) 454-2273.

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