Hip Dysplasia

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Filed in Dogs, Health

Hip dysplasia, usually a hereditary disease, causes painful arthritis in the hips, primarily in large breed or fast-growing dogs. Veterinarians are able to make the victims of hip dysplasia more comfortable with medication, but other cases may require surgery, including a hip replacement.

The hip joint is a ball and socket, with the head of the thigh bone as the ball that fits into the socket formed by the pelvic bones coming together. In some dogs, the tissues that support this joint are loose, allowing too much movement of the ball in the socket. This abnormal movement eventually causes destruction of the joint. The damaged joint and the arthritis that follows cause the pain and lameness of hip dysplasia.

Often the first sign of hip dysplasia will be a change in the normal gait of a young dog -- the result of looseness in the joint. Lameness may occur after exercise. As the dog ages, degenerative arthritis develops in the hips, causing pain and stiffness.

Early stages of hip dysplasia can be treated with rest and pain medications like aspirin. Be sure to consult your veterinarian about the proper type of pain medication and dosage because some common pain medications that are appropriate for humans can be dangerous for dogs.

When hip dysplasia is detected in dogs younger than 18-24 months, a surgical procedure called a triple pelvic osteotomy has been used with excellent success. The surgery rearranges the ball and socket relationship so little or no additional degeneration occurs. Severely degenerated joints can be corrected by removing the entire ball and socket and replacing them with an artificial hip.

More severe arthritis in the hip joint may require anti-inflammatory drugs such as cortisone. Food supplements with marine lipids can act as a natural anti-inflammatory ingredient and give significant relief to dogs with arthritis in the hip joint.

Conscientious breeders have been working for years to limit hip dysplasia by selective breeding. X-rays can reveal dysplasia in prospective breeding animals, and those pets should be spayed or neutered to prevent passing the disease to puppies.

Some large breed dogs are predisposed toward hip dysplasia. Owners of large dogs should have both potential parents X-rayed for hip dysplasia because the problem may not show up until an animal is 2 years old or older.

Source: Ask the Vet, reprinted with permission by Pet Food Express. Ask the Vet is published by Veterinarian's Best, Inc., PO Box 4459, Santa Barbara, CA, 93103.

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