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Ask the Vet: 18 most helpful questions of Canine Hip Dysplasia answered!

The first step to dealing with your dog’s pain is understanding the reason behind their ache. It is extremely important to equip yourself with the correct information; because only then, will you be able to take resourceful steps towards your pup’s recovery.

In this article, Dr. Akshay Shah has kindly answered the primary questions regarding Hip Dysplasia in dogs. He is a certified Homeopathic and Acupuncturist in Mumbai who has dedicated more than 8 years to ailing animals with his expert care at  AcuVet Veterinary Speciality Clinic, Mumbai.

Dr. Akshay Shah- Acupuncturist and Veterinarian

Let’s get on with the interview!

1) What is Hip Dysplasia in Dogs?

Dog hip dysplasia is a malformation of the hip joint. 

The hip joint is a ball and socket joint. During growth, both the ball (the head of the femur, or thighbone) and the socket in the pelvis (acetabulum) must grow at equal rates.

In Canine Hip Dysplasia, this uniform growth during puppyhood does not occur. The result is laxity (looseness) of the joint, followed by degenerative joint disease (DJD) or osteoarthritis (OA), which is the body's attempt to stabilize the loose hip joint.

2) Why did my dog develop Hip Dysplasia? Could I have prevented it?

Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD) is a genetic disease that is further affected by many factors such as diet, environment, exercise, growth rate, muscle mass, etc.

Causes of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Unfortunately, it is not in our hands to know if the puppy will develop Hip Dysplasia in the future. But before bringing the dog home, observe the pup’s movements like the way he walks, runs, jumps. Always check if the parents of the puppy had any such illness.

3) What symptoms of Hip dysplasia should I look out for in my dog?

1- Weakness of hind legs

2- Pain

3- Limping

4- Muscle loss in one of the hind legs

5- Reluctance to rise from a sitting or lying position

6- Dogs with mild Hip Dysplasia on radiographs (X-rays) may develop minimal arthritis without clinical signs until they are older

7- Even though Hip Dysplasia begins in puppyhood, most dogs do not develop clinical signs until they are older. It often takes years of gradual bone degeneration until a dog becomes symptomatic.

8- A “bunny-hopping” gait is sometimes evident. 

9- Joint laxity reduced range of motion, crepitation, and pain during full extension and flexion may be present.

4) How do you deduce that it is hip dysplasia?

We can confirm Hip Dysplasia after taking a few X-rays focusing on the Hip joints. A VD (Ventro-Dorsal view) is the most preferred to assess the hips.

5) Is it true that labs, goldens, and German Shepherd are more prone to hip dysplasia than other breeds? Why?

Yes, although any dog can be affected, it is predominantly seen in larger dogs such as German Shepherds, Saint Bernard’s, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers. Large mixed-breed dogs are also at risk for developing CHD.

6) Do puppies develop hip dysplasia or only senior dog?

Yes, puppies can also develop Canine Hip Dysplasia.

7) How is hip dysplasia in puppies different from senior dogs?

In puppies, it is more in an acute form. It’s just the beginning of the disease. In senior pets, it is present in a chronic form which is further characterized by degenerative joint disease (DJD) and arthritis. 

8) My puppy has been diagnosed with a tendency for hip dysplasia – What should I do? Can you share some tips? How should the lifestyle of the dog be? (What should they eat? Any exercising tips, etc.?)

If your dog is diagnosed with hip dysplasia, don’t panic!

There are several ways to ensure that your furry friend can enjoy a wonderful, normal life with you.

The first thing that can be done is to check the flooring. It shouldn’t be slippery. Zoof Grips are advantageous to help your dog not skid over. 

Dog Paws- Wearing Zoof Grips

You can also consider-

  1. Surgery
  2. Joint supplements
  3. Walking on beach sand 
  4. Swimming is a great low impact exercise that helps develop the muscles and strength
  5. Acupuncture
  6. Weight management

9) If my pup has been detected with hip dysplasia, will he have very difficult senior years?

If not taken care of at an early stage, the chances of complications in the future are very high.

If untreated and left unseen it will cause serious issues in regards to mobility in senior years

10) Any walking tips for dogs with hip dysplasia? Should I avoid/ encourage my dog from doing a certain activity while we go for our walks?

Ensure that your dog has an optimum weight to minimize damage to its hip joints. Regular exercise will strengthen the muscles and prevent degeneration. Exercise is especially important for young dogs and puppies. 

Also, remember that excessive exercise can actually cause muscle and joint damage, so consult with your veterinarian to create a plan that works the best for your pet.

11) Can my puppy be placed in a Cast? Like the ones done with human babies who develop hip dysplasia.

Dog hip braces, provide support and stability to minimize pressure on dog joints and allow for post-surgical healing or pain-free exercise. Braces come in all sizes so you can find one that is perfect for your pet and allows for maximum support. They are not very commonly available in India though.

German Shepherd Dog in Hip Cast

Image credits- K9 HipLign

12) My senior dog has been diagnosed with hip dysplasia. What should I do? Can you share some tips?

In senior dogs, the grade of Hip Dysplasia can be established by taking an X-Ray. Post that there are 2 approaches 

  1. Conservative- If the dog is not in too much pain then joint supplements can be started and exercise can be done to help strengthen the muscles and joints.
  2. Surgical- If your dog is suffering from unbearable pain, you can opt for different surgeries, depending on the one that suits your dog. But it is usually an expensive and difficult procedure so make sure that your dog and you are up for it.  

13) How important is it to prevent the pup/ senior dog from slipping indoors?

Indoor management of the disease is a very important factor as this is where it can be controlled. Slippery flooring can worsen the condition because it puts more pressure on the dog’s hip joints. It is more harmful if the weight of the pet is not maintained.

14) What are the surgical options for Hip Dysplasia? How do you decide which recovery method is the best for a patient dog? When should you not consider surgery as an option?

Quite a few different surgeries can be done to help correct Hip Dysplasia depending on the age of the pet and grade of Dysplasia. If it’s not very bad then the surgery can be avoided.

15) What is included in the rehabilitation program after the surgery?

Post-surgery, acupuncture and physiotherapy can be done to help regain muscle strength and mobility in the joint.

Hip Acupuncture in dogs

Picture credits- Wangford Vet Clinic

16) How much on average, does it cost to treat hip dysplasia in dogs?

On average, the surgery might cost anywhere between 40K to 80K

Rehabilitation using alternative therapies is much cheaper and safer. But in the end, if the grade of Hip Dysplasia is very high then surgery is the best option.

17) Can you share details on how alternative therapies like acupuncture, laser, ultrasound help?

Acupuncture helps reduce inflammation and reduce pain caused due to the damaged joint. Usually, it takes 3 to 4 sessions for the pet to show some good response. The pain reduces from the 1st session. 

Laser and ultrasound help similarly as well but every therapy has a different principle.

18) How long can a dog live with hip dysplasia? What does the future of my dog look like?

Dogs live their normal life even if they are affected by Hip Dysplasia. Only, if taken care of right from the start.

If the condition worsens, the dog might develop arthritis or degenerative joint disease which can be a painful condition in the future. 

As long as they get the right treatment and care, there is no reason why your dog shouldn't continue to enjoy life.

Worried that your dog may have Hip Dysplasia? Take this quiz and check if he is showing any symptoms.

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