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Hip Dysplasia

General Information

Hip dysplasia is a condition in which abnormal formation of the hip joint results in unstable hip joint. As the affected dog ages, the hips gradually become arthritic and may degenerate to cause total crippling of the rear limbs.
The exact cause is unknown but it is believed to develop because the skeleton grows faster than the supporting muscles. The imbalanced growth rate is influenced by heredity and diet. Other unknown factors may influence the development and severity of hip dysplasia.
Not all dogs with hip dysplasia are affected to the same degree. The disease can be very mild and cause no signs at all, or it may be severe and crippling of the rear limbs. While the disease usually affects both hips, occasionally it only affects one side. Hindleg lameness, a swaying or staggering gait, "bunny-hopping" while running, discomfort on rising, reluctance to climb stairs or stand on the rear legs, and reluctance to run or jump are all signs of hip dysplasia. Though this disease is most common in large breeds of dogs, it may occur in any breed. When we examine an animal under anesthesia we try to evaluate the tendency of this joint to luxate (slip out of joint). If a young animal has hips that luxate easily, but they are not showing pain it may only be necessary to avoid stressing the joint by avoiding excessive exercise and avoiding obesity. However, if a young dog is already showing signs of lameness and has a great tendency for the hip to luxate, referral to an orthopedic specialist may be recommended to prevent further injury to the joint.

Important Points in Treatment

1. Treatment varies from simply restricting exercise to surgery, depending on the severity of the condition. Proper treatment often allows affected pets to live reasonably normal lives. The doctor will discuss the prognosis for your pet.
2. Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred.
3. Give all medication as directed. Call the doctor if you cannot give the medication.
4. Diet: Feed your pet as follows: Avoid obesity, in young dogs avoid providing "free choice" feeding and thus reduce the rate of growth. Feeding a fixed meal 2-3 times daily may help reduce the rate of growth.
5. Activity: Follow the instructions checked.

____Allow normal activity.

____Restrict your pet's activity.

Notify the Doctor if Any of the Following Occur:

* Your pet shows increasing discomfort or lameness in the rear
* Your pet develops weakness or lameness in the front legs.
* Your pet has vomiting, increased urination or increased water


Understanding Your Pet's Medical Diagnosis

What is canine hip dysplasia?

Hip dyplasia is an abnormal development of the hip joint that is usually present on both sides (bilateral). The disease signs are produced by varying degrees of looseness (laxity) of the anchoring ligaments, and deformity of the hip joint. Hip dysplasia eventually leads to arthritis of the joint.

What causes canine hip dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia is caused by a genetic (hereditary) predisposition for hip laxity. Rapid weight gain and a high calorie diet in immature dogs seem to increase the disease severity.

What are signs of canine hip dypslasia?

Clinical signs depend on the severity of joint laxity, amount of arthritis present, and the duration of the condition. Common clinical signs include decreased activity, difficulty rising, reluctance to run, jump, or climb stairs, intermittent or persistent hind leg lameness that is often worse after exercise, "bunny hopping" or swaying gait, and a narrow stance or short stride in the hind limbs.

How is canine hip dysplasia diagnosed?

Your veterinarian may suspect hip dysplasia after examining your dog. To further analyze the condition, the dog is put under general anesthesia. Many young dogs have this examination performed even if no signs are seen, in order to determine whether dysplasia is present. Under anesthesia, the joints are felt and manipulated, and specific radiographs (X-rays) of the hip joints are performed. If your dog's radiographs show no signs of hip laxity or changes, and your dog shows no clinical signs at 2 years of age, there is a 95% confidence that your dog will not develop the condition.

How is canine hip dysplasia treated?

Medical and surgical options are available. Medical treatment is considered palliative (providing relief but not cure) since the abnormal joint condition is not corrected. Medical treatment includes weight control, moderate exercise, the use of anti-inflammatory (pain relieving) drugs, and medications that promote cartilage health. Joint degeneration often progresses unless a surgical procedure is performed early in the disease condition. Surgical procedures can also salvage joint function once severe joint degeneration (arthritis) is present. The surgery that is best for your dog will vary depending on its age and condition.

Surgical Techniques:

Triple pelvic osteotomy (TPO) is a corrective bone procedure designed to re-establish good joint congruity (fit) between the head of the femur and the socket (acetabulum). Osteotomy means bone cut; therefore, a triple pelvic osteotomy is a surgical procedure that requires cutting the pelvis in three separate places. After cutting the bone, the acetabulum is rotated to improve the support of the femoral head, and to correct the forces acting on the joint. This will minimize the progression of arthritis and may allow development of a more normal joint if it is performed early (before severe arthritis develops). This procedure is typically performed in the immature patient (6 to 12 months of age).

Total hip replacement is indicated to salvage function in mature dogs with severe arthritis that has not been responding to medical therapy. Studies have shown that pain-free joint function returns after total hip replacement in over 90% of dogs. About 80% of dogs require only one-sided (unilateral) joint replacement for acceptable function, even when both hips are affected.

Excision arthroplasty is the surgical removal of the head and neck of the femur bone. This procedure is used to eliminate joint pain. Results are consistently better in smaller dogs that are less than 40 lbs. (18 kg.), and those with good hip musculature. After joint pain is eliminated, however, a slightly abnormal gait often persists. Postoperative muscle wasting (atrophy) is common, particularly in larger dogs. Excision arthroplasty is primarily used as a salvage procedure when significant degenerative joint disease is present and pain cannot be controlled medically, or when total hip replacement is cost prohibitive.

What is the prognosis for dogs with hip dysplasia?

In dogs with hip dysplasia joint degeneration usually progresses, though most dogs can lead normal lives with proper medical or surgical management. Hip dysplasia is best prevented by not breeding affected dogs. Pelvic radiographs can help identify affected dogs, but may not identify all dogs carrying the disease. Breedings that result in dysplastic offspring should not be repeated. Special diets designed for rapidly growing large breed dogs may decrease the severity of the disease in some dogs.