Hip dysplasia in dogs is a common skeletal and joint condition, most commonly found in larger breeds, but also affecting dogs of all sizes and breeds. To get an idea of what it is like, imagine a ball and socket joint. Now, imagine the ball grinding away at the cartilage and rubbing against the socket without any additional shock absorption - it is not a pleasant thought.
Not only that, but it can damage and weaken the ligaments, which causes the bones to grow further and further apart and become misaligned. This can then lead to something known as spurs, which is where calcium deposits in the wrong place.
This is incredibly painful for a dog and can even cause them to lose their ability to walk. Knowing the signs and symptoms of hip dysplasia in a dog and what to do if they have it is important to enable your dog to have a decent and pain-free life.
What causes hip dysplasia in dogs?
Unfortunately, it is a genetic condition. Try to find out more about your dog's background if possible, as if their parents or grandparents had the condition; they are more likely to have it.
While it can affect dogs of any breed or size, it is more prevalent in bigger breeds. However, some lifestyle factors can trigger it. These include gaining too much weight, too much or too little exercise, and lacking in the necessary nutrients. Planning and making sure that your dog is active and does not gain excessive amounts of weight and has a healthy, balanced diet can reduce the chances of lifestyle triggered hip dysplasia in dogs.
Which breeds are more prone to hip dysplasia?
Some of the breeds that are more susceptible to the condition than others include:
- German Shepherds
- Saint Bernards
- Great Danes
- French Bulldogs
- Golden Retrievers
- Basset Hounds
Of course, your dog being one of these breeds does not automatically mean they are going to develop the condition, but they do need watching a little more closely.
What are the signs and symptoms of hip dysplasia in dogs?
Your dog cannot verbally tell you how they feel, so keep a close eye on anything that doesn't seem normal. Some of the signs that your dog may have hip dysplasia include:
- Difficulty using stairs or getting up and down off beds/sofas/car
- Cracking or popping sounds from their joints
- A change in walk or gait
- Their back legs being closer together than their front when standing
- Bunny hopping with back legs
- Lack of interest in playing or exercise
- Sensitive or swollen hips and joints
What should you do if you suspect hip dysplasia in dogs?
The first thing you need to do is pay a visit to your vet for advice. They will be able to check your dog over and diagnose the condition. They may take blood tests and X-rays to get a better idea of the problem. Depending on the dog's age and the severity of the condition, the vet may recommend surgery. Non-surgical treatments can also be used; the use of anti-inflammatory medication and mobility braces being two of them.
The main thing is to keep an eye out for symptoms and seek an early diagnosis. The quicker it is spotted, the less damage it is likely to do and the less discomfort it will cause to your canine companion.
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