Hip dysplasia What is it and how is it detected?

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Hip dysplasia is a relatively common disease that will affect the hind legs. It is due to a faulty union between the femur and the hip, causing lameness and other related problems.

Although it is a genetic pathology, there are various factors that can influence its appearance and severity. A veterinary orthopedic surgeon can help us choose the best medical or surgical treatment.

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Index of contents

  • 1 What is hip dysplasia?
  • 2 Which dogs does hip dysplasia affect?
  • 3 Can dysplasia be prevented?
  • 4 How is hip dysplasia diagnosed?
    • 4.1 Symptoms of hip dysplasia
  • 5 Treatment for hip dysplasia
    • 5.1 Surgery for hip dysplasia
  • 6 Care for a dog with hip dysplasia

What is hip dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia is an inherited disorder. The hip is a joint that has cavities that are called acetabulums. The head of the femur fits and articulates in them. What happens in dysplasia is that this socket is defective due to a malformation in the acetabulum that is poorly developed or is very flat.

This makes the head of the femur is very free in the acetabulum. There is instability in the joint, which is exacerbated with muscle growth and development. Another consequence is abnormal joint wear. Dogs with dysplasia are born with hips that appear normal, but gradually change.

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Which dogs does hip dysplasia affect?

Although this pathology can occur in all dogs, it is more common in large breeds such as:

  • Saint Bernard
  • Newfoundland
  • Rottweiler
  • Golden retriever
  • German shepherd

Small breeds may suffer from dysplasia but less frequently manifest symptoms.


Can dysplasia be prevented?

Being a genetic disorder, it is not possible to implement any preventive measure other than to avoid the reproduction of specimens that present this disorder. Yes we can worry about offering our dog a quality diet.

An excess calorie diet for a growing dog has been shown to exacerbate the problem. This is because a quick fattening increases the effort for the hip. Predisposed puppies should follow a controlled diet. Obesity also negatively influences those dogs that already have a genetic predisposition.

Inadequate exercise in young dogs, in a phase of rapid bone growth, can trigger the symptoms. Avoid jumping to high altitudes or standing on your hind legs. All these recommendations do not prevent the development of the disease but can delay its appearance or make its course milder.

Running dog

How is hip dysplasia diagnosed?

The test of choice is radiography. To get a good shot, it is necessary to sedate the animal. Depending on the severity of the damage, different degrees of dysplasia are distinguished: mild, moderate or severe.

It is possible to see injuries in the area such as arthritis, bone spurs or wear, secondary to pathology. If arthritis is detected, the condition is irreversible.

Symptoms of hip dysplasia

The most common sign of dysplasia is lameness in the hind legs, although it is not present in all dysplastic dogs. This usually appears between 4 and 12 months of age.

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Other symptoms that these puppies can manifest are the following:

  • Hip pain.
  • Rolling while walking.
  • Jump like a rabbit when running.
  • Difficulty getting up on the hind legs or extending them.

Treatment for hip dysplasia

Treatment for dysplasia can be both medical and surgical. For the first, a restriction of activity and the administration of an analgesic and a joint protector are prescribed. It is, therefore, to control pain as much as possible. The stem cell treatment or plasma, seems to also report improvements, thus avoiding surgery.

As for surgery, in some cases it can prevent joint degeneration. It is recommended in dogs in which the prescribed treatment has not alleviated pain or lameness.

There are different surgical techniques that can be applied. It is essential, at this point, to put ourselves in the hands of a veterinaryn specializing in trauma.


Surgery for hip dysplasia

Interventions such as triple pelvic osteotomy and femoral osteotomy are performed. They are made in puppies and consist of inserting the head of the femur well into the acetabulum. In the pectineal myectomy, the muscle of the same name is removed, which relieves pain, at least for a time.

For its part, the excision arthroplasty of the head and neck of the femur consists of removing the head of the femur, which is recommended in medium-sized dogs, weighing approximately 16 kg. Lastly, total hip replacement involves removing this joint and replacing it with an artificial one. It is a less accessible surgery.

Care for a dog with hip dysplasia

Dogs with dysplasia should exercise, even if they have a limp, but in a very controlled manner. This involves always carrying them on a leash and not allowing them to run or jump or play, at least as long as they show pain.

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To be possible, swimming is highly recommended It improves muscle mass and joints without straining the hip. Food must also be cared for, with quality products and in adequate amounts for normal and non-accelerated growth. You must act against being overweight, always with veterinary supervision.

Although recommended, vitamin or mineral dietary supplements do not appear to be beneficial. If we want to use them, we should consult the vet, as some could even be harmful.