Hip Dysplasia Explained

Hip dysplasia is a complex problem which has troubled the dog world for quite some time and affects many different dog breeds and dogs throughout the world.

To better understand what it is and how to treat it we must have some understanding of the basics of this condition. Best described, dysplasia of the hips is caused whenever a laxity occurs in the joint between the femur and pelvis. Over time this looseness causes damage to the femoral head(ball) and to the acetabulum(socket).

This damage then causes arthritic changes in the joint which often reduces the range of motion and causes pain and inflammation. This often causes the dog pain in the morning when trying to rise, causes difficulty in even small leaps and sometimes may even cause weight loss or decreased appetite.

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The inheritance of "good" or "bad" hips is dependent on many genes and is truly too complex an issue to be discussed in this short introductory article. In many cases, however, the origin of the problem is simply genetic and is passed on from one generation to the next generation.

Further, to make the picture even more confusing, dogs with almost identical genetic makeups may have a wide range of differences in what degree of dysplasia they may display as adults. This fact can be attributed to the differences of environmental influences on the development of the hip joint, and most especially the strong effect of diet on a young dog.

Proper nutrition is essential for the development of a strong healthy dog. Keep in mind, however, poor or excessive nutrition can exacerbate genetic tendencies toward hip dysplasia.

Dogs must be at least two years of age to be certified hip dysplasia free by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA).

The process is very simple. X-rays are taken of the hips, mailed to the foundation (OFA), examined by radiologists and graded on the actual appearance of the hips. Dogs which show signs of hip dysplasia are not good candidates for breeding and do nothing to further the soundness of the breed.

Currently there are several treatment options for dogs diagnosed with hip dysplasia, most involving surgery of some type. The most curative option is a "Total Hip". Bacically, this involves replacing the head of the femur and the acetabulum of the pelvis with artificial components.

Another option is a triple pelvic osteotomy, which entails repositioning the sides of the pelvis in relation to the femurs. A third surgical option is called a femoral head and neck excision. This basically eliminates bone to bone contact and forms a false-fibrous joint. This procedure is of limited use on larger dogs.

A dysplastic dog who is not required to perform or physically work a great deal can often be managed with pain medications. Often, a mild pain reliever may be all that a dog needs to be comfortable enough to go about his daily routine.

Return from Hip Dysplasia to Bloat

A pekingese is not a pet dog; he is an undersized lion." - A A Milne