Hip dysplasia in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment
Hip Dysplasia is a congenital condition in which the normal anatomy of the hip joint is altered. Normally, the thigh bone joints with the pelvis at the hip joint in a way in which the convexity of the femur head fits completely into the concavity of the hip known as acetabulum. The surface of this joint is covered in cartilage, an avascular tissue that provides cushion for mechanical impacts on the joint, as well as a wider range of motion.
Older dogs, particularly of large breeds, commonly suffer from this degenerative condition of the hip joint that directly affects their quality of life.
Dogs with Hip Dysplasia show a partial joint of the femur head into the acetabulum, as well as anatomical variations on the acetabulum itself as an uneven surface that causes abnormal and continuous friction on the cartilage as the joint moves.
The cause of Hip Dysplasia was commonly believed to be purely genetic. Multiple genes expressing in abnormal ways would lead to malformation on the hip joint, leading to dysplasia. However, in the past decades, researchers have found that environmental factors also contribute to the development as well as the severity of the condition.
For instance, neutering a dog while it is still a puppy or before it reaches its full developmental maturity doubles the odds for it to develop Hip Dysplasia when compared to non-neutered dogs and dogs that were neutered after they developed, according to a recent study.
Overweight and injuries involving the hip joint at a young age are also considered risk factors for Hip Dysplasia.
How do I know if my dog has Hip Dysplasia?
The main issue caused by this condition is chronic pain in the hip joint caused by the osteoarthritis subsequent to abnormal tearing and wearing of the anatomically modified joint.
Since dogs tend to accommodate to chronic pain more seamlessly than they do with acute pain, they adapt themselves and their behavior around the pain, thus not showing any clear signs of suffering.
However, as the hip joint gets more and more compromised through time, pain can worsen and functional limitation of the joint becomes evident, being detected by one or more of the following symptoms:
- Difficulty standing up after rest
- Stiffness on the back legs
- Lameness and reluctance to walk, run or play
- Reluctance to climbing stairs or jumping on higher surfaces
- Reluctance to stand on two legs
- Abnormal gait
Atrophy of thigh musclesThe final diagnosis of Hip Dysplasia should be made by a veterinary practitioner after the performance of an X-ray of the hips. The X-ray image findings should then be correlated with one of the many standardized categorizations of Hip Dysplasia.
Hip Dysplasia in Dogs Treatment
As a congenital condition, there is no final cure for Hip Dysplasia. Therefore, the main goal for both veterinarians and dog owners is to ensure that the dog’s quality of life is held at the highest possible point for the longest possible period of time.
According to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), weight control and exercise are key in order for the animal to be healthy and enjoy quality of life. Overweight puts more mechanical stress on the hip joints, thus accelerating the development of osteoarthritis and worsening the pain. On the other hand, mild to moderate exercise performed regularly and gradually helps toning the muscles of the thighs, leading to a more stable joint.
However, it is important to note that excessive exercise harms the dog’s joints, having the opposite effect on their quality of life.
As the OFA states, a group of drugs known as “disease-modifying osteoarthritis agents” (DMOA) may help enhance the synthesis of glycosaminoglycan and hyaluronate, two substances present in all normal joints. These two molecules are dramatically decreased in the hip joints of dogs with Hip Dysplasia.
The most commonly used DMOA is chondroitin, a popular molecule used for the treatment of osteoarthritis in humans and animals.
Chondroitin sulfate is the main molecule of the Chondropaw ® formula for dog’s joint care.
For more information about Chondropaw® and its benefits, visit chondropaw.com