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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.
Baker Institute for Animal Health, Cornell University
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Absolutely amazing! Dr. Imhoff performed knee surgery on my little chihuahua Caesar. I was very nervous about it but he and the office regularly called me through out the day to give me status updates. It really helped to calm my nerves. Dr. Imhoff then checked Caesar weekly for the next six weeks to check his healing progress. He explained everything to me and was very friendly and knowledgeable. One night, midway through Caesar's healing he had wiggled out of his e-collar and ripped his bandages off. I panicked and brought him into the ER next door. The staff and doctor on duty were so incredibly calming and friendly, even though I was freaking out. After checking him over the doctor re-bandaged Caesar and didn't even charge us the ER fee. Absolutely amazing service and friendly staff. I never felt like they were trying to nickel and dime me, unlike other places. I will always recommend them! Thank you Dr. Imhoff for doing an amazing job on Mr. Caesar!
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