Dogs and Hip Dysplasia: What can we do?

Hip dysplasia is a hereditary condition that results in loosely formed hip joints and can affect a dog at any stage of its life. It causes the dog’s legs to move around too much, creating excess wear on the body. Similar problems can occur in animals that have experienced trauma to the hip area. Large breeds like the Retriever, German Shepherd, Newfoundland and Rottweiler are at a higher risk, but dogs of all sizes can be affected by this condition. The term hip dysplasia covers a wide range of problems, all related to osteoarthritis. Elbow dysplasia can occur as well.

In severe cases, puppies as young as five months old will show symptoms, but the condition does not typically reveal itself until later in life. Similar to arthritis pains, symptoms include a stiffness of movement, a hard time climbing stairs and discomfort while exercising. Obesity and a lack of nutrition can increase a dog’s susceptibility to the disease.

While hip dysplasia cannot be prevented, there are a range of treatment options available for animals suffering from this condition. Worried your young dog may be at risk? Here at Powell Veterinary Service, we can perform PennHip and OFA evaluations to determine the likeliness of them developing the condition. OFA certification cannot be provided until age two. A highly credible evaluation, The PennHip evaluation can be done on puppies four months of age or older.  A distraction index is measured for each dog and is compared to the breed’s PennHip data to determine where the dog falls on a percentile basis. Above a certain percentile and your dog is not likely to be dysplastic, but below a certain percentile and they likely will be.

If symptoms are seen on the PennHip evaluation, a procedure called Juvenile Pubic Symphodiesis (JPS) can be performed to prevent osteoarthritis from occurring in the hip joints. A Triple Pelvic Osteotomy (TPO) can also be performed on young dogs to reestablish joint stability and proper development before the onset of osteoarthritis.

For dogs already displaying symptoms of hip dysplasia, the first course of action is usually medicinal treatment. Anti-inflammatory medications and pain relievers are often provided for older dogs to help them get around comfortably.

Hip dysplasia is especially common in purebred dogs and we recommend purchasing your purebred puppy from a recognized breeder whose dogs have been tested for hip dysplasia and other genetic diseases. PennHip testing is recommended for all working and hunting dogs to ensure their health and avoid the passing on of this hereditary trait.

Regardless of age, if your dog shows signs of stiffness or pain during exercise and movement, contact Powell Veterinary Service to set up an appointment. Located in Kersey, Colorado we happily serve surrounding areas including Brighton and Platteville.  Contact us online or by phone at 970-352-9164 to set up an appointment today.