Many dog owners put the health of their beloved pets at the top of their priority list and make sure that their dogs stay healthy all the time. In a way, pets that constantly get sick or injured only reflect the kind of care their owners do for them. Every responsible dog owner understands the importance of having a certain degree of knowledge about the many diseases and injuries that their dogs may get while growing up. And certainly, hip dysplasia is one of these health issues that dog owners must know about.
What is Hip Dysplasia?
Hip dysplasia is a health condition that could happen not only to animals but to humans as well. In canines, it is characterized by an abnormality in the skeletal formation around the hip socket area. Normally, the hip joint is made up of a socket and a ball. This skeletal ball, called the Femoral Head, is actually the top part of the thigh bone, which connects the rest of the bones of the feet into the pelvis.
The conclave on the pelvic bone which houses the Femoral Head is technically known as the Acetabulum. Under normal conditions, the ball should be able to freely rotate itself inside the socket.
This way, the thigh bone would be able to move without any problems, which in turn means, that the dog would not have any diffculty using its feet to walk or even run. For tighter fit and greater flexibility, certain parts of the femoral head and acetabulum are covered by cartilage.
The causes of Dysplasia
Experts agree that the formation of hip dysplasia in dogs is caused by both genetic and environmental factors:
1. Genetics and heredity. It is said that an animal suffering from hip dysplasia has a greater chance of passing the same skeletal disease to its offspring. Furthermore, larger breeds of dogs appear to be more prone to dysplasia than the smaller ones. The list includes the Great Dane, German shepherd, Newfoundlands, and Labradors among many others.
2. Nutritional factors. Providing too much high-calorie diet to genetically susceptible breed of dogs is found in some research to even greatly increase the chance of developing the disease. Too much calorie intake for growing dogs can result to a rapid increase in weight.
The extra weight, in turn, increases the stress that is being put on the hips, further pushing the risk of the disease higher. In addition to this, imbalance in certain minerals, particularly calcium and phosphorus can also cause dysplasia.
3. Exercise. Lack of exercise, especially at the time of a dog’s rapid bone development may also contribute to the occurence of dysplasia. However, excessive physical activity, especially one that puts tremendous stress on the joints such as jumping to catch a Frisbee is not good to dogs in their growing up years and should be avoided.
Moderate exercise regimen is highly recommended to dogs because it strengthens the muscles on the legs and thighs, which is crucial in supporting the stability of the joint areas.
All dog owners must be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of dysplasia at earliest possible time. This way, intervention could be done at the early stages of the disease when damages to the joint areas have not fully progressed yet and corrective measures could be implemented quickly.
Unfortunately, the symptoms of dysplasia appear similar to other kinds of skeletal disease, which means that early detection may not always be easy to do. Nevertheless, dog owners should not discount dysplasia if ever they see one or all of the following symptoms on their dogs:
1. Prolonged instances of limping especially in both hind legs
2. Decrease in dog’s physical activity
3. Apparent pain when rising or lying down
4. Unusual “bunny-hopping” movements
5. Less flexibility of movement around the hips
6. Narrow stance, with hind legs close together
7. Poor muscle mass in the thigh area
8. Increase in shoulder muscle mass
Although there is no complete cure to dysplasia, there are a number of treatment options available to alleviate the symptoms of the disease. Depending on the severity of the condition, vets may just require certain medications to deal with the pain and inflammation of the joints.This may include cortisone shots or non -steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
In really mild cases, this may just be enough. If the symptoms are pretty severe though, surgery may be done in order to correct the problem.The surgery may involve repairing a part of the hip or even the replacement of the whole area. Aside from these treatment options, some natural approaches are also highly recommended. This natural approach includes controlling the diet of the dogs, proper exercise, massage and physical therapy, and joint-nourishing natural supplements.
Some supplements that are used commonly contain chondroitin, glucosamine, and omega 3 fatty acids. Also soybean or avocado unsaponifiables.
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