Hip dysplasia is characterized by abnormal formation and development of hip joint. It is known to be very painful and thus, early diagnosis and treatment become important.
The hip joint is a ball and socket-kind of joint, where the end of the thigh bone fits perfectly into the socket of the hip. At times, however, the head of the thigh bone does not fit into the socket properly. This condition is referred to as hip dysplasia. The normal functioning of the hip is considerably affected due to this. The cartilage of the joint eventually wears out, causing immense pain and discomfort.
Though, in most cases, it is caused due to genetic disorders, it can also be attributed to hip injury or ligament tear at a very young age, rapid growth in the period between three to ten months, and overexertion of the hip joints from a very young age. It can occur in all animals, but is most common in dogs. In very rare cases, it can also occur in humans. Larger dog breeds like German Shepherds, Pinschers, Labrador Retrievers, Doberman, etc., are genetically prone to this health condition.
In the beginning, dogs experience stiffness and soreness in the limb, and hop like rabbits while running. With time, the pain in their legs worsens and their hip weakens. After some months, the dogs completely avoid any physical activity, like jumping, running, or walking. Some dogs even avoid climbing stairs and stretching because of pain. All this eventually leads to hip arthritis and in severe cases, the dogs are not able to walk without assistance.
After the diagnosis, usually there are three lines of treatment: (i) medication, (ii) surgical treatment, and (iii) behavioral treatment.
Medicines are generally prescribed to reduce the severity of the symptoms. Doctors may prescribe drugs like Rimadyl and Etogesic, which help in reducing the pain, soreness, and inflammation of the hip joint. You need to note that these medicines may at times trigger side-effects, like nausea and diarrhea, in dogs. If deemed necessary, the vet will prescribe nutraceuticals, as they are free from side effects and effective against arthritis-related problems. Over the counter drugs, like aspirin and ascriptin, can reduce pain and inflammation, but they should be given only under medical supervision.
Several surgical options are available today. However, this options are availed according to the severity of the condition and the dog’s age. When a dog is about four to five months old, the Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis surgery is the best bet. In this surgery, the two pelvic bones are fused together in order to allow proper movement of the joints. The advantage of this surgery is that it helps other pelvic bones to develop normally and reduces the chances of osteoarthritis.
Another option is the Triple Pelvic Osteotomy. This is the best option in dogs that are less than 10 months old. This procedure involves cutting and rotation of the pelvis in such a way that, the head of the femur fits tightly into the socket. In severe cases, the last option might be to opt for total replacement of the hip.
Obesity can worsen this problem by subjecting the joints to additional pressure. So, the weight of dog must be kept under control. The easiest way to do this is to give the dog the right kind of food to eat. Exercises, like swimming, and moderate forms of physical activities, like walking and jogging, can also benefit the dog. Massaging their hips and joints once in a week will not only help them relax their muscles, but also alleviate their pain.
Hip dysplasia can be very painful, so take proper care and avail the appropriate treatment that your canine friend needs. As it happens to be a hereditary condition, selective breeding of dogs can help in preventing it to a certain extent.