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Canine Hip Dysplasia: Causes & Treatment

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“My dog has hip dysplasia;  what should I do?”

If your dog has been diagnosed with hip dysplasia, talk to your veterinarian about the different treatment options that are available.

•    If your young dog qualifies for a TPO, early surgical intervention can restore joint function and reduce degenerative damage to the joint.

•    For more advanced cases, an FHO or surgery for an artificial hip may be needed.  

•    Talk to your veterinarian about which painkillers and anti-inflammatory medications are right for your pet.

•    Ask about physical therapy, cold laser therapy, and acupuncture.

•    Low-impact exercises, like swimming, will help your pet stay active without stressing the hip joint.

Canine hip dysplasia is the abnormal formation of the hip joint and one of the leading causes of rear leg lameness in dogs. Hip dysplasia is most prevalent in larger breed dogs, especially German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labradors, Saint Bernards and Rottweilers. On the other hand, hip dysplasia is uncommon in the Doberman, Great Dane, and Greyhound. The condition can occur in small and medium sized dogs as well, for instance, the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Pug, and the Sussex and Clumber Spaniel. This condition affects male and female dogs equally. With hip dysplasia being a common condition in dogs, it is important that dog owners understand the symptoms, causes and treatment options.

Hip dysplasia is caused primarily by genetics, although other factors also play a role. Studies have shown that feeding a puppy too much of a high-calorie diet can cause the puppy to grow too quickly, which then increases the risk for hip problems.

The earliest symptoms can occur between four months and one year, although the signs may not be apparent until the dog is middle-aged or older. These symptoms include pain when walking, a swaying gait or limp, “bunny hopping” when running, and, most commonly, difficulty getting up due to pain in the hindquarters. Hip dysplasia is not an “all or nothing” condition, but occurs on a spectrum determined by the amount of hip dysfunction.

In a normal hip joint, the head of the femur (thigh bone) fits snugly into the socket.  Dogs with mild dysplasia have a mild separation between the ball and hip socket. Dogs with moderate dysplasia will have more separation, which causes wear and tear leading to degenerative arthritis. Dogs classified as severely dysplastic have a full separation of the femur from the hip socket which leads to severe arthritis.

Diagnosing hip dysplasia requires x-rays of the hips; this almost always requires sedation or anesthesia for proper positioning.  This can be done by your veterinarian.  There are three methods of getting the hip x-rays:  OFA, Penn-Hip, and DLS. These are just different methods of positioning and measuring. With OFA and Penn-Hip you can also send the hip films to a radiologist for an official evaluation and certification. People who want to breed their dog often do this; if you breed two dogs with good hips you are more likely to get puppies with good hips. OFA will evaluate your dog at any age, but the dog needs to be at least 24 months of age to be certified.  DLS is a new system recently developed by Cornell University.

Treatment for hip dysplasia depends on the severity of the disease, the age of the dog, and what expense the owner is willing to incur. Some young dogs may be helped by a surgery called a triple pelvic osteotomy (TPO). Especially in small to medium dogs, another effective surgical option is an FHO (femoral head ostectomy) where the head of the femur is removed. On the other hand, the dog with a  severely arthritic hip may be helped only by surgery to implant an artificial hip.  Most cases will need pain meds, anti-inflammatory drugs, and glucosamine. Other treatment modalities are laser therapy, physical therapy, water treadmill, and acupuncture.

Source:

Baker Institute for Animal Health, Cornell University

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Testimonials

  •           8/29/2017

    I love Balboa Pet Hospital! Balboa Pet Hospital's staff is amazing! The staff is knowledgeable, caring and above all honest! I feel confident that my pets are getting the best possible care there. The staff has always taken time to answer all of my questions and if I think of something after my appointment, I can just email! I know I won’t have to wait too long for response.

    Unfortunately, this year I’ve had to make some really difficult decisions. The compassion the staff showed to both my pet and I made these unbearable times tolerable. I am indebted to both Dr. Del Rosso and (the wonderful) Dr. Ravn for their kindness, compassion and dedication.

    If you are new to the area or just looking for a new vet, please give Balboa pet Hospital a call!

  •           6/5/2017

    LOVE everything about this place!!! The people are all super nice & caring. I never feel like they’re trying to sell me stuff I don’t need. The vets (especially Dr. Alice Chan) are wonderful, I always fee; comfortable coming here whenever Walle has an issue. They even help me file the insurance claims after each visit! Would highly recommended any pet owners to see them for their fur-baby needs.

  •           6/5/2017

    My dog has been a regular patient since 7 years ago. Once in a while we visit other hospitals due to time conflicts. However, we always go back to Balboa Pet Hospital. My dog has bad allergy and the doctors and assistants always follow up with us after the treatments or visits, help us submit the insurance claims. It’s not a cheapest place to go but their patience and caring are irreplaceable.

  •           4/28/2017

    I’m glad to have found Balboa Pet Hospital near my home. It’s definitely a hidden gem! Dr. Chan saw my dog, Oreo, for her skin problem last week, and my three cats, Pepper, Tofu and Cola, today for annual check-up. She’s very patient (especially with Oreo who’s shy to strangers), knowledgeable and approachable. The front staffs are also very friendly and helpful. They are so prompt to reply my email (within a few hours when I checked back my mailbox). All my pets are about 1-year-old and I’ll definitely bring them here for their health issues/checkup in many years followed.

  •           5/4/2017

    Brought my dog here for a checkup and some minor concerns. Dr. Chan was very professional. She got my dog the treatment he needed and answered all my questions regarding my concerns. The rest of the staff were very friendly and gentle with my dog. You could tell that the staff are genuine animal lovers; definitely something you want when you entrust the health of your pet to someone.

  •           5 of 5

    Been bringing our animals to Balboa for over 25 years and will continue because they provide great advice and care. We love Dr. D and staff are really helpful and friendly. Now if I can find medical care for myself like my animals get at Balboa...

  •           5 of 5

    I have been a patron of Balboa Pet Hospital for almost 500 years now (wink). I love Everybody there and feel they are have always been a great resource and the BEST support system for everything pertaining to my pets.

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    The staff is very kind and gentle, the doctors are very caring and patient when dealing with my scared cat Lulu. I appreciate the time they took to put her at ease and making this procedure as painless as possible for the both of us. Will definitely be spreading the word. Thank you Balboa Pet Hospital.

    Linda P.

    San Francisco, CA

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