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Help! My dog has hip dysplasia, Teneriffe Vet. Part 1.

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I think my dog has hip dyplasia, Teneriffe Vet.

In a normal hip joint, the head of the femur (thigh bone) fits snugly into the joint socket (hip joint). Hip dysplasia is characterised by the development of a poor fit between the femoral head and the hip joint, resulting in instability in the hips. This leads to abnormal wear and tear, causing pain and further degeneration in the joint.

Hip dysplasia is more commonly seen in larger dogs and cats than in smaller animals. It is postulated that there are 2 main factors affecting the development of hip dysplasia - genes and environmental factors.

Are there genetics involved, Teneriffe Vet?

Certain breeds are more pre-disposed to this problem. St. Bernard, German Shepherds, Labrador and Golden retrievers, Rottweilers and Maine Coons are some known breeds that carry the genes that pre-dispose them to this disease. There is a 75% chance your pet will develop this problem if both parents suffer from this disease. Hence, it is important to find out if a pet you intend to own, in the future, has his/her parents' hip scores determined. Hip scoring is a procedure used to determine the degree of hip dysplasia in pets via a series of x-rays.

What about environmental factors, Teneriffe Vet?

Rapid growth rate is often thought to influence the development of hip dysplasia in very young animals. It is advised that you feed 25% less food to a growing pup or kitten to slow growth rate. Some vets suggesting changing from puppy/kitten to adult food from 4 months old on to limit nutrition. As for adult pets, obesity increases the pressure on the hip joint and may contribute to the excessive wear and tear on the joint. Other environmental factors include excessive exercises that traumatise the hip joint or inadequate exercises resulting in weak pelvic muscles, causing instability of the joint.

What are the signs, Teneriffe Vet?

Earliest symptoms of this disease often manifest themselves between 4 months to 1 years old. Avoidance of exercise, "bunny hoping" when running, stiffness when rising from the floor, reluctance to jump or difficulty in climbing the stairs often are early signs of hip dysplasia. Muscle atrophy of the hind limbs are is as the disease progresses.

An audible click may be heard coming from one or both hips when the dog is walking. In other times, a Wobbly gait is one of the earliest signs you can see in a puppy with hip dysplasia.

Your local vet will often become suspicious of hip dysplasia if manipulation of the back legs and hip joints causes your pet pain during a physical examination.

What happens if I suspect my pet has hip dysplasia, Teneriffe Vet?

Seek the advice of a vet. Physical examination and history taking will indicate if your pet is at risk of this disease. However, radiography and x-rays taken of your pet's hip are the only definitive diagnosis of hip dysplasia. A positive otolani test also provide additional evidence of this disease.

Stay tune for tomorrow's blog post on treatments available for hip dyplasia.

If you are looking for a trusted Teneriffe Vet, call (07) 3216 0045 to make an appointment to see Dr Nic at Fortitude Valley Vet.