How To Treat Canine Hip Dysplasia

Sad face of a dog

Canine Hip Dysplasia is a genetic, degenerative joint disease resulting from the hip joint of a young dog developing abnormally. With proper diagnosis and treatment, this disease and its symptoms can be controlled.

Dog owners may begin to see symptoms of this disease in dogs as young as 5 months of age, but symptoms are generally not noticed until the dog is middle aged to elderly. The symptoms seen are:

  1. The dog will carry the affected leg.
  2. The dog will become less active.
  3. The dog will have an altered gait when it walks or runs.
  4. There may be stiffness and pain in the dog's hind legs after any exercise.
  5. The dog may be stiff and in pain first thing in the morning.
  6. The dog may need help getting to a standing position.

The diagnosis of Canine Hip Dysplasia is easy. The veterinarian will:

  1. Give the dog a physical exam, paying close attention to the affected hip.
  2. Look for pain when extending and flexing the affected area.
  3. Take x-rays.

Treatment includes oral supplements, medications, surgery and changes in the dog's living conditions.

The oral supplements used to treat Canine Hip Dysplasia are:

  1. Methyl-sulfonyl-methane (MSM), which is a pain reducer, and anti-inflammatory and helps reduce scar tissue and strengthen connective tissue.
  2. Creatine, found in red meat and fish, helps the dog's body produce Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). ATP gives the dog bursts of energy.
  3. Glysamine and Chondroitin heal the damaged cartilage and are usually given for the remainder of the dog's life.

Medications used to treat Canine Hip Dysplasia are:

  1. Buffered Aspirin, which is an anti-inflammatory and painkiller and should be given with meals. Dogs should only get aspirin produced specially for dogs, not human aspirin.
  2. Carprofen, Etodolac, Deracoxib, Ketoprofen and Meloxicam are all prescription medications. These medications are anti-inflammatory and are strong and effective painkillers, but do have side effects. Periodic blood work is essential when using any one of these medications to monitor the dog's liver.
  3. S-Adenosyl-L-Methionine is an anti-inflammatory and pain reliever used when treating osteoarthritis.
  4. Polysulfated Glycosaminoglycan is a series of injections given over weeks that help prevent the breakdown of cartilage.
  5. Corticosteroids are another prescription medication whose use is controversial. This medication is a strong anti-inflammatory but also has many short- and long-term side effects.

Surgical procedures are sometimes a necessary treatment. Deciding which procedure is best for the dog depends on the dog's weight and age. These procedures are:

  1. Triple Pelvic Osteotomy, which is performed on dogs under 10 months of age, is major surgery, expensive, but very successful.
  2. Total Hip Replacement, which is performed on dogs who are skeletally mature and weigh over 20 pounds. This is also major surgery, expensive and very successful.
  3. Femoral Head and Neck Excision, which is generally performed on dogs who weigh less than 45 pounds, but is sometimes performed on larger dogs. This surgery is considered a salvage procedure used when total hip replacement is not an option.
  4. Juvenile Pubic Synmphysiodesis, which is a less invasive surgery, is performed on dogs before they are 20 weeks old.

Changes in the dog's living conditions involve the dog's sleeping area. It should be warm and dry with no dampness or cold breezes blowing on the dog.


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