Hip dysplasia is a common orthopedic problem in dogs and is often seen in large and giant breeds. It is a condition in which the hip joint doesn’t develop properly and the ball and socket of the joint don’t fit properly, causing rubbing and grinding of the bones and leading to pain and inflammation.
Early onset hip dysplasia is a term used for hip dysplasia that is present at birth or develops in young puppies. In this article, we will discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatment of early onset hip dysplasia in dogs.
What Causes Early Onset Hip Dysplasia in Dogs?
Hip dysplasia has a genetic component and is inherited from one or both parents. Therefore, if one or both of the parents have hip dysplasia, their offspring are at a higher risk of developing the condition. However, early onset hip dysplasia is also influenced by environmental factors such as nutrition, growth rate, and exercise.
Malnutrition, overfeeding, or feeding a diet that is not balanced can lead to rapid growth and excessive weight gain in puppies, causing stress on the developing hip joint. Similarly, lack of exercise or too much exercise at a young age can cause abnormal development of the hip joint. Other factors that may contribute to early onset hip dysplasia include hormonal imbalances, infection, trauma, and structural abnormalities.
Symptoms of Early Onset Hip Dysplasia in Dogs
The symptoms of early onset hip dysplasia in dogs can vary depending on the severity of the condition. Mild cases may not show any signs until later in life, while severe cases may show symptoms as early as a few months of age. Some common signs of early onset hip dysplasia include:
- Stiffness or limping in the hind legs
- Difficulty rising from a lying or sitting position
- Reluctance to run, jump, or play
- Bunny hopping (moving both hind legs together)
- Loss of muscle mass in the hind legs
- Pain or discomfort when touched around the hip area
If you notice any of these signs in your puppy or young dog, it is important to consult your veterinarian for an evaluation.
Diagnosis of Early Onset Hip Dysplasia in Dogs
Diagnosis of early onset hip dysplasia in dogs involves a physical examination, radiographs (X-rays), and sometimes genetic testing. During the physical examination, the veterinarian will check for any abnormalities in gait, muscle mass, and range of motion of the hip joint. Radiographs are used to evaluate the shape of the hip joint and the degree of joint laxity.
Genetic testing may be recommended if the puppy’s parents are known to have hip dysplasia. The genetic test can determine whether the puppy has inherited the genes for hip dysplasia and can help in breeding decisions.
Treatment of Early Onset Hip Dysplasia in Dogs
The treatment of early onset hip dysplasia in dogs depends on the severity of the condition. Mild cases may only require conservative management, while severe cases may require surgical intervention.
Conservative management involves weight management, controlled exercise, and the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to manage pain and inflammation. Physical therapy and joint supplements may also be recommended to improve joint function and reduce the risk of further damage.
Surgical intervention may be necessary in severe cases of early onset hip dysplasia. The most common surgical options include total hip replacement, femoral head ostectomy (removal of the femoral head), and triple pelvic osteotomy (cutting and repositioning the pelvic bones to improve the fit of the hip joint).
Your veterinarian will discuss the best treatment options for your dog based on the severity of the condition and your dog’s overall health.
Prevention of Early Onset Hip Dysplasia in Dogs
Preventing early onset hip dysplasia in dogs involves proper nutrition, exercise, and breeding practices. Feeding a balanced diet and avoiding overfeeding can help prevent rapid growth and excessive weight gain. Controlled exercise, especially at a young age, can help promote proper development of the hip joint.
Breeding only dogs that have been screened for hip dysplasia can help reduce the incidence of the condition in future generations.
Early onset hip dysplasia is a common and often debilitating condition in dogs. It is important to recognize the symptoms and seek veterinary care if you suspect your puppy or young dog may be affected.
Treatment options depend on the severity of the condition and may include conservative management or surgical intervention. Preventing early onset hip dysplasia involves proper nutrition, exercise, and breeding practices. By taking proactive measures, we can help reduce the incidence of this condition in dogs and improve their overall quality of life.