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By Jessica Wesch

Managing hip dysplasia in dogs

Hip dysplasia is the most commonly inherited orthopedic disease in dogs and is every owner’s worst nightmare. Every dog enthusiast knows that whether it be running, jumping, or playing fetch, dogs love to be active. This is why seeing your dog struggle with this disease is so heartbreaking. Dysplasia is a genetic disease in which the supporting muscles, tissues, and ligaments of a joint become loose, creating space between the two connecting bones and the joint. This results in poor bone and joint development, which painfully alters the life of any dog.

Who is at risk of inheriting hip dysplasia?

Research shows that this disease is most commonly seen in larger, purebred dogs such as rottweilers, Great Danes, and German shepherds. But mixed or small breeds can also develop the disease. As long as one parent carries the gene, the puppy has a chance of inheriting it. The frightening truth is that dogs of every age, size, and breed can be at risk.

Signs of hip dysplasia

Being around your dog every day, you tend to notice even the slightest abnormalities in their behavior. In most cases symptoms of hip dysplasia lie dormant until a dog reaches the mid to late period of its life. Since many owners have their puppies from a young age, they are used to seeing them go through the natural changes of aging such as stiffness of bones and joints. But many owners make the dangerous mistake of believing the symptoms of hip dysplasia are simply the symptoms of the aging process. If left untreated, hip dysplasia will continue to progress, from slight discomfort when moving around to the inability to walk, rendering the dog paralyzed. In order to diagnose these conditions veterinarians not only rely on visual confirmation but a combination of different tests to determine the best treatment options for the dog.

Treatments available

Sadly, there is no medical treatment known to prevent hip dysplasia at this time. There are, however, certain treatments, such as oral supplements or anti-inflammatory medications, that a veterinarian may prescribe to your dog to manage the daily pain. A good diet and exercise are also recommended to all dogs, not only for the management of hip dysplasia but for a long, healthy life. When this disease reaches the advanced stages, many veterinarians recommend a surgical option. A surgical procedure such as total hip replacement (THR) can be the best option, because it can be tailored to fit any dog’s needs.

Unfortunately, too many dogs suffer from this genetic disease. It can be extremely frustrating to know that because it is inherited, there is nothing to prevent it. The only thing we can do is provide our dogs with the best life possible. No pet owner wants to see their best friend in pain, so it is best to take precautionary steps as soon as possible.

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