Having a dog that suffers from hip dysplasia is a particularly dreaded ailment for owners. It is a pathology that can become quite disabling at an advanced stage and may require heavy treatment.
The hip is a joint that connects the pelvic bone and the posterior limb. The head of the femur fits into the hip bone to provide stability and mobility.
The hip is a fragile and very sensitive joint. The slightest deformation can be painful and cause loss of mobility.
A malformation or a bad development of the joint causes dysplasia.
Dysplasia will make the joint loose, which in time can lead to inflammation of the tissues and cartilage and cause the appearance of osteoarthritis.
The majority of dysplasia cases are brought on by the genetic factor. One or both parents carry the gene and pass it on to their offspring.
A dog carrying the gene will not necessarily declare dysplasia, but screening of the puppy is obviously advised.
Some dysplasias occur during the growth of the puppy. A puppy that has too much activity at a very young age (running, jumping, stairs, long walks) may have hip dysplasia, because it will have been overused during the growth period.
Overweight dogs can also cause significant joint problems.
Hip dysplasia evolves over time. The first signs can appear during growth, or as early as 3 years old.
Persistent lameness will appear after long walks or when cold. The gait of the puppy may be affected. Some dogs with dysplasia will not want to climb stairs or make long efforts, simply because they are in pain.
Some dogs may also notice that the hip bone sticks out.
Dysplasia is classified by severity as follows:
A: no signs
B: almost normal condition
C: mild dysplasia
D: moderate dysplasia
E: severe dysplasia
Dysplasia can affect any breed of dog. However, large dogs are the most prone to dysplasia, due to their rapid growth.
The diagnosis must be made by your veterinarian, after an examination and an X-ray to confirm that the joint is affected.
The earlier the diagnosis is made, the more options you will have to treat your pet.
Depending on the severity of the injury, an appropriate treatment will be put in place. This may include physical exercises adapted to the hip, a specific diet, the addition of food supplements dedicated to the joints, or medication to limit inflammation and pain.
Swimming, physiotherapy or osteopathy may also be recommended.
If dysplasia is diagnosed early enough, surgeries can be considered for dogs that have completed their growth and are not too old.
Consists in replacing the malformed joint, it completely eliminates the animal's pain once healed.
Hip dysplasia is not a reason for euthanasia - dogs can live with it, as long as treatment and daily life are adapted.
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