Risk Factors That Contribute To Hip Dysplasia In Dogs
Hip dysplasia (HD) is a joint-related disorder that affects many canines. It occurs in the hind legs where the pelvic bone and femur make contact. A normal hip joint has a concave outline. The head of the femur is roundly shaped to fit perfectly into the joint. The manner in which they fit together – a typical ball and socket fit – provides a dog with full range of motion. Ligaments, connective tissue, and cartilage provide stability and cushion between the socket and the head of the femur.
Some canines’ hip joints develop in a manner that impairs the otherwise perfect fit of the ball and socket joint. Moreover, the condition tends to worsen with age, limiting a dog’s ability to move without pain. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the reasons this disorder appears in some canines, but not others.
Similar to many diseases suffered by people, hip dysplasia in pets is often passed from parent to offspring. If your puppy’s parents suffer from the disorder, there is a much higher likelihood your pup will experience it, too. Conversely, if there are no signs of HD in his parents, there is a low likelihood he will develop it.
A professional breeder will avoid breeding two dogs with this condition since doing so makes it more likely their pups will have it. That said, the condition can skip generations, making it more difficult to remove entirely from a canine’s line.
Excessive Physical Activity As A Puppy
Most trainers and breeders caution owners to avoid overexerting their puppies until they reach adulthood. The reason is because a pup’s bones are still developing during his first twelve months. Excessive, forced exercise can result in trauma on the bones and cartilage before both have had sufficient time to fully develop. This can cause the ball and socket hip joint to develop shallower than it normally would.
It is worth emphasizing that excessive exercise alone rarely causes hip dysplasia in puppies. A genetic predisposition is usually present. That said, too much exercise exacerbates the condition, and may cause it to present earlier.
Another important note is that muscle mass in a canine’s hind legs has a significant influence on the severity of the disorder’s symptoms. It often prevents the condition from developing until later in a dog’s life.
Diet And Nutritional Deficiencies
Nutrition plays a similar role in the development and display of hip dysplasia. Poor nutrition and excessive calories increase the likelihood the disease will present, and often accelerates its presentation (i.e. HD displays earlier than otherwise).
For example, a diet that contains too little calcium can prevent a susceptible dog’s hip joint from developing properly. This tends to happen more often with canines that are fed meals prepared by their owners. Commercial brands of dog food contain the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients – including calcium – your canine’s body needs at every stage of his development.
How Hip Dysplasia Is Addressed In Canines
There are several approaches to treating HD in dogs. Some involve surgery, such as hip replacement, juvenile pubic symphysiodesis (typically done on puppies), and a procedure called triple pelvic osteotomy. Other approaches are focused mainly on managing the disorder. These typically include exercise, physical therapy, and helping the dog stay at his ideal weight. Owners can also purchase ramps and other devices to make mobility easier and more comfortable for their pets.
Some veterinarians will suggest giving dietary supplements to canines suffering from hip dysplasia. This is often done when surgery is not an option. Some supplements are helpful for maintaining the existing cartilage while others have an anti-inflammatory effect.
There is no reliable way to eliminate hip dysplasia from certain breeds since, as mentioned, the disorder often skips generations. You can, however, take the steps described above to prevent or delay its onset.
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