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What is hip dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia is a condition that many owners find themselves worrying about at one time or another. To understand hip dysplasia, it first helps to understand the function of the hip joint. The hip functions as a ball-in-socket type joint. Comfortable function relies on a deeply-seated ball within the socket and a smooth range of motion. During growth, it is important that the femur and acetabulum (the two bones that make the ball and socket) grow at similar rates. Hip dysplasia occurs when the growth between these two bones does not occur correctly.

Who is at risk for hip dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia is classically thought of as a disease of large and giant breed dogs, but it can affect dogs of any breed and size.

What causes hip dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia is primarily a genetic disease but other factors such as nutrition, obesity, and hormones can also play a role. Excessive calorie intake of a puppy with at-risk genetics will increase the risk of developing hip dysplasia.

How do I know if my dog has hip dysplasia?

Some dogs that are diagnosed with hip dysplasia exhibit symptoms that alert their owner something is wrong, but a number of patients are diagnosed by their veterinarian without any signs prior. Symptoms may include limping, a “bunny hopping” gait, thin muscle mass on the hindlimbs, seeming stiff in the back legs, and decreased range of motion.

Hip dysplasia is diagnosed with x-rays. Your veterinarian will evaluate the congruity of the hip joint and look for signs of arthritis. Your veterinarian may also notice joint laxity or other signs on the physical exam. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) can grade the quality of hips or degree of hip dysplasia in dogs that are being considered for breeding, however, this cannot be done until after 2 years of age.

How do we treat hip dysplasia?

Unfortunately, once hip dysplasia has been diagnosed there is nothing that can be done to reverse it. Treatment for the vast majority of patients is directed towards managing the symptoms–what is known as “conservative management.” This involves weight reduction, joint supplements, and often prescription medications. Dogs with hip dysplasia do best when maintained relatively lean. Joint supplements such as glucosamine and/or fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids) may help preserve cartilage health and reduce inflammation. NSAIDs, such as carprofen, can be used on an as-needed or regular basis to reduce pain and inflammation. Other important considerations include regular moderate exercise and physical therapy.

Are there alternative therapies for hip dysplasia?

Recently, there has been development and release of other medical technologies based on monoclonal antibodies used to aid in the control of chronic pain. These medications are showing great promise in the management of chronic pain. At City Dog Vet, we are seeing many dogs with improved quality of life and less pain with Librela, a monthly injection.

Acupuncture, chiropractic care, laser therapy, and other holistic therapies are all additional options that show promise for patients. At City Dog Vet, we provide these services within our clinic with the collaboration with Anshen Holistic Veterinary Care.

Will surgery cure hip dysplasia?

Depending on the severity of symptoms, surgery may be a recommendation. The two most commonly performed surgeries for hip dysplasia are femoral head and neck excision (FHNE) and total hip replacement (THR). Both FHNE and THR are procedures that are pursued when conservative management is no longer providing adequate symptom control. At City Dog Vet, we do perform femoral head and neck excision surgery, however we refer cases that may be candidates for total hip replacements to a specialty institution after in depth discussion with our clients.

If you are wondering if your dog may benefit from a hip surgery, please give us a call to set up a consultation with one of our City Dog Vets.

-Dr. Andy Stevens

Our City Dog Vet staff will examine your dog and discuss the many options and step-wise approach to finding what’s best for them and for you.

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