When you bring home a new puppy, the last thing you are likely to be thinking about is joint health. However, hip dysplasia is a common occurrence and can affect dogs as young as five months old, so every puppy parent needs to know the signs. Could hip dysplasia be impacting your pup? Here is what you need to know.
What is hip dysplasia?
Hip dysplasia is a condition that occurs when the hip joints don’t form properly. Because the joints are improperly formed, the hind legs aren’t stable, and they can wobble around in the joint sockets. As a result, abnormal, painful wear and tear can occur. Although the cause is unknown, there appears to be a genetic component. Weight gain caused by high calorie diets and overly enthusiastic exercise before the joints are fully formed can also apparently contribute to dysplasia. Early treatment can improve the symptoms and reduce the risk of further joint damage.
What are the symptoms?
Puppies who have hip dysplasia may limp or appear unsteady when they walk. They may move their hind legs together when they run, instead of moving each leg independently. You may notice that your puppy’s hips swivel when you walk behind him or her or that you hear a clicking sound when he or she moves. As the condition progresses, your active puppy may become more lethargic or may have more difficulty going up and down stairs or finding a comfortable position when lying down.
How can we know for sure?
If hip dysplasia is suspected – at any age – your veterinarian will recommend x-rays of the dog’s hips and rear legs. This usually provides the answer.
Some veterinarians (including those at the Chastain Veterinary Medical Group) have been trained & certified in a special x-ray technique called PennHIP. PennHIP is accurate and reliable in puppies as young as four (4) months of age. The x-rays are read by specialists and the report provides an objective, mathematical estimate of the risk of the puppy developing hip dysplasia later in life. With this information, prevention and treatment protocols can be developed by the PennHIP-trained veterinarian.
What treatments are available?
There is no cure for hip dysplasia, but there are several treatments to reduce your puppy’s discomfort and control the progression of the disease. Anti-inflammatory medications and cold laser treatments can reduce the pain. Some dogs benefit from surgery. Managing your puppy’s weight will also help. Typically, your vet will perform period X-rays of the hip joint to track the progression of the dysplasia.
Chastain Veterinary Medical Group offers a comprehensive range of diagnostic and surgical services, including PennHIP x-rays , at our pet hospitals in Dallas and McKinney. Set up an exam with a veterinarian for your puppy by calling (972) 239-1309 for Preston Road Animal Hospital in Dallas, or by calling (972) 529-5033 for Meadow Brook Animal Hospital in McKinney.