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Bones & Joints

Be on the lookout for Canine Hip Dysplasia

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Owners of large dog breeds should be aware their dog is more susceptible to Canine Hip Dysplasia than are the smaller breeds, even though it can happen to any dog. It is a painful health issue for these affected dogs that needs to be properly diagnosed and treated.

Canine Hip Dysplasia

Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD) is a congenital disease very common in large dogs. Dysplasia is best defined as your dog’s hips develop in an abnormal way. This leads to structurally unsound hip joints with the hips being unstable and loose. If your dog has this issue he or she will eventually develop painful arthritis limiting their ability to run and walk. This stage of lameness is known as Degenerative Joint Disease.

So what are the typical symptoms you should look for if you suspect your dog has Canine Hip Dysplasia? Symptoms will vary depending on the stage of CHD, the age of your dog, if they have ever suffered from blunt trauma to their hips such as being hit by a vehicle, and how overweight the dogs is. Look for your dog to shift more body weight to their front shoulders and legs to relieve the pressure on the hips, stretching their rear legs will be difficult and obviously painful, no ability to jump, difficulty climbing stairs as well as going down, difficult for the dog to lay down and get up, activity level will be greatly decreases, and you may hear a popping sound from your dog’s hip area when they try any of the above activities.

They may also typically show an altered gait, with the rear legs closer together than normal to compensate for the pain (See photo, courtesy of “Malinaccier” on Wikipedia).

While this debilitating disease can happen to any breed the following breeds are at higher risk for developing CHD. Pug, American Bulldog, Newfoundland, St. Bernard, Neapolitan Mastiff, Bulldog, German Shepard, American Staffordshire Terrier, Otterhund, Boykin Spaniel, Clumber Spaniel, Sussex Spaniel, Rottweiler, Bull Mastiff, Beagle, Staffordshire Terrier, Bloodhound, Welsh Corgi, Black and Tan Bloodhound, Shih Tzu, Golden Retriever, Norwegian Elkhound, Bernese Mountain Dog, English Setter, Briard, Giant Schnauzer, Brittany, Pudel Pointer, Portuguese Water Dog, Irish Water Spaniel, Curly Coated Retriever, Welsh Springer Spaniel, and the Polish Lowland Sheepdog. Yes, this is quite a list so you may well own one of these dogs.

Your vet can diagnose CHD only through X-Rays, and then prescribe the best physical treatment plan along with medication to ease the pain and discomfort.

Some courses of action are described in this Wikipedia article:

There is no complete cure, although there are many options to alleviate the clinical signs. The aim of treatment is to enhance quality of life….

If the problem is relatively mild, then sometimes all that is needed to bring the symptoms under control are suitable medications to help the body deal better with inflammation, pain and joint wear. In many cases this is all that is needed for a long time.

If the problem cannot be controlled with medications, then often surgery is considered. There are traditionally two types of surgery – those which reshape the joint to reduce pain or help movement, and hip replacement for animals which completely replaces the damaged hip with an artificial joint, similar to human hip replacements.

Do not feel guilty and fear you have brought on this condition. It is entirely a genetic occurrence in most dogs or injury-related, and any environmental factors play a significantly lesser part in a dog developing Canine Hip Dysplasia.

Do you own a dog with CHD? Please leave advice and helpful tips below.

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