Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Hip dysplasia is a long recognized ailment in mainly large breed dogs. It involves the hip joint where the femur (long rear leg bone) meets the acetabulum (cup-shaped area of the hip bone). There is laxity that allows for degenerative and eventually arthritic changes of the hip joint. The  dogs that have hip dysplasia show signs of limping, carrying the leg off the ground, difficulty in getting up, and rear body pain. We know it is a genetic disease that may not be symptomatic for years. We also know that diet can influence the expression of the disease especially during the growth phase of young dogs. Diets too rich in carbohydrates or with improper amounts or ratios of calcium/phosphates consistently worsen the physical state of affected dogs. Once grown, proper weight maintenance and exercise are vital. The best way to avoid this disease is to make sure the pedigree line is certified hip dysplasia-free by OFA (orthopedic foundation of America). Should your dog show signs if this disease as a pup, surgeries are an option to correct this. Older dogs have surgical options from hip replacement to palliative pain relieving procedures. Medications and laser therapy are available to help alleviate pain and improve function. Stem cell therapy holds promise in actually growing new joint cells. Better breeding and awareness of this disease has reduced the incidence, but we still need to make every effort to care for affected patients and be responsible in not purchasing from breeders that do not have OFA certification.

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