Twenty-five to thirty percent of all dogs in the United States suffer from canine hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a genetic progressive disease associated with abnormal hip formation which causes laxity in the muscles, connective tissue and ligaments that support the hip joint and keep it in place.
Symptoms include difficulty getting up from and down into a lying position; reluctance to walk, run, climb and descend stairs, jump or play; frequent sitting during long walks; “bunny hopping” gait in which the legs move more together when running rather than swinging alternately; reluctance to extend rear legs; inability to stretch; shifting weight; vocalization on handling.
Many of the large and giant-breed dogs are susceptible, but also smaller breeds like bulldogs, French bulldogs and Shih Tzus are vulnerable. Obesity is a major risk factor.
Diagnosis is made by your vet based on observations, physical exam and radiology. A new screening method called PennHIP developed by the University of Pennsylvania can determine the potential for hip dysplasia in dogs as young as 16 weeks of age.
Treatment can be as conservative as controlled exercise and conditioning, weight control, heat and nutritional therapies. Surgery is also sometimes indicated which include total hip replacement, femoral head osteotomy and double and triple pelvic osteotomy. Prolotherapy is a noninvasive surgical alternative. This involves injecting dextrose and vitamin B12 in combination with lidocaine or something similar into the tendons and ligaments. The solution stimulates the body’s immune system to rebuild new tendons or ligaments. Prolotherapy has been used in humans for quite some time so it is not a new approach to healing.
Prevention: If your dog shows symptoms later in life, it is too late to prevent joint degeneration. The best approach is early screening of dogs at risk and lifestyle measures.
As with all health issues, discussion with your vet is the key for prevention and treatment. For more information about hip dysplasia, see the ASPCA’s web site: http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/dog-care-hip-dysplasia.aspx