Dog Diseases

Hip Dysplasia in Dogs: What It Is and How It Is Treated

From a certain age, pets begin to suffer certain diseases and disorders. Hip dysplasia in dogs is common in some breeds, which is hereditary, bone and non-congenital (not manifested at birth). Learn what it is and how it is treated in the following article.

What to know about hip dysplasia in dogs

It is a disease that affects the bones and, although it may appear within a few months of life, it is more frequent after 8 years of the animal. Hip dysplasia in dogs is degenerative (it gets worse over time) and is caused by a malformation in the coxofemoral joint.

It can cause lameness, pain, and difficulty walking, sitting or climbing stairs. It is usually bilateral, that is, it affects both hind legs equally. This problem is more common in large breeds, such as German Shepherd, Doberman, Labrador Retriever, Boxer, Dalmatian, and Irish Setter.

It also affects animals that increase rapidly in weight and body volume. That is why it is said that hip dysplasia in dogs can be caused by external factors, such as feeding, lack of exercise and overweight.

However, the main cause of the disease is the genetic factor. A puppy that is free of dysplasia genes will never develop it, even when it is obese or elderly. There are different degrees of severity depending on the angle of amplitude between both femur heads:

  • Mild: between 100 and 105 °
  • Moderate: between 90 and 100 °
  • Gravel: Less than 90 °

How hip dysplasia is treated in dogs

Although it has to be diagnosed by a veterinarian after X-rays of the animal, the owner can identify dysplasia due to some habits of his pet: difficulty standing after spending hours lying down, excessive fatigue for no apparent reason, refusal to climb stairs or perform certain activities (jumping, for example), or walking slowly and having a “lower” hip than usual.

Once the professional affirms that it is this disease, he can indicate different treatments to strengthen or relax the muscles, as well as relieve pain and prevent the dysplasia from moving forward (or delaying such progress):

1. Massages

When the canine does not want to support one of the legs due to the pain it produces, it can lead to muscular atrophy. To reduce this problem, massages can be performed to promote muscle recovery, as well as to correct poor posture of the spine. The movement must be carried out along the column with some pressure, but without the animal complaining. Massage the muscles of the hindquarters with some friction. Do not touch the spine, but the sides.

2. Passive stretches

In many cases, hip dysplasia in dogs is operated. After the intervention, the owner has to perform a series of passive exercises so that the movement is gradually recovering. This serves to correct joint dysfunctions. The dog must lie flat and still. After light massages, stretching, rotations and flexions of the affected leg are performed.

3. Active exercises

In the second part of the postoperative treatment, the canine can already move by its own means, even if slowly and with help. That is why the stabilizing exercises that, as the name suggests, are used so that the animal can walk alone. They consist of short walks and slow walking. The owner must support him from behind (from the column) to prevent him from going sideways.

4. Hydrotherapy and physiotherapy

Both can be very helpful when there is hip dysplasia in dogs. In the case of hydrotherapy, it is perfect for hairy water lovers like Labrador, since without noticing it, you will be strengthening your muscles and increasing the movement of the joints without overloading them. Physiotherapy has similar effects, but should always be performed by a professional.

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