One for our dog owners this week, and another common condition: hip dysplasia. This ties into last week’s topic in that HD leads to osteoarthritis.
What is Canine Hip Dysplasia?
Canine hip dysplasia is when the hip socket develops abnormally. The ligaments and other soft tissues that would usually hold the hip joint stable become loose in puppyhood. This looseness means the joint does not move as it such, which in turn causes the bones in the joint (the femoral head and the acetabulum) to deform.
Signs of Hip Dysplasia:
Hip dysplasia has differing amounts of severity, and therefore may not be caught young. In some cases, it’s only when arthritis sets in that hip dysplasia is noticed.
– difficulty rising or sitting
– a swaying walk or lameness
– painful around the back legs
– weight shifted forward / overdeveloped front end
– weight / muscle loss on the hind limbs
Causes of Hip Dysplasia:
The biggest cause of hip dysplasia is genetics, with some dog breeds more likely to have it. These breeds are usually larger dogs such as German Shepherds, or Labradors, but it can occur is smaller dogs as well. Luckily, there are hip scores and other testing that a reputable breeder will carry to to minimise the risk of passing on HD. Hip dysplasia can also be caused by environmental factors. Obesity, rapid growth and overall poor nutrition can lead to it’s development, especially in breeds that are prone to it.
What can be done?
If you suspect your dog may have hip dysplasia, it’s important to speak to your vet. Your vet will carry out a physical exam and may suggest xrays to confirm. How your vets proceed then depends on the severity of the condition. Some cases can be managed at home with pain relief and a lifestyle change, whilst other cases may need surgery.
Can physiotherapy do anything for Hip Dysplasia?
Physiotherapy can be a great help, both when managing HD at home, and if surgery is your best option. At home, your physiotherapist will come up with an appropriate strengthening plan, help to relieve the compensatory damage, and if appropriate, help with weight loss planning. Post surgical, physiotherapy can help to build and keep the strength surrounding the site, reduce inflammation and help heal. Animal Physiotherapy can also aid pre-surgically, leading to a higher chance of a more successful surgery.