Hip dysplasia is a relatively common musculoskeletal disorder that occurs when the ball and socket joint in your dog's hip does not develop normally. The ball and socket joint allows the hip to move in different directions, but hip dysplasia causes the joint to deteriorate over time. As this happens, the joint can loosen and become inflamed, which leads to restriction of movement.
It's not always possible to identify why a dog develops this condition, but large breeds tend to be more at risk than small breeds, and it's thought that both genetic and environmental factors can contribute to abnormal ball and socket joint development. Hip dysplasia often manifests within the first few months of a dog's life, but it can occur later in life as a complication of osteoarthritis. Here's an overview of the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment options for hip dysplasia in dogs:
Symptoms of hip dysplasia vary with the degree of joint looseness and inflammation, but in the early stages of this condition, your dog may have difficulty standing up and be unwilling to exercise or play due to joint pain. They may also stand with their back legs abnormally close together and sway from side to side when they walk. As the condition progresses, your dog may become irritable, and you may hear an intermittent grating noise when they walk. Their hind legs can lose muscle mass, while their shoulder muscles can become bulky due to your dog trying to avoid putting pressure on their hip joints. You will also notice that they struggle to climb stairs and may not be able to jump up on furniture in the way they once could.
Diagnosis And Treatment Options
Your vet will diagnose hip dysplasia by taking details of your dog's symptoms, analysing a blood sample and X-raying their hips. A sample of your dog's blood can show if their inflammatory markers are raised, while an X-ray will allow the vet to see the extent of joint looseness and the position of the affected hip.
There are a few treatment options for hips dysplasia, and your vet will recommend a treatment approach based on the severity of your dog's symptoms. Your dog may be prescribed painkillers and anti-inflammatories to make them more comfortable. Additionally, they may receive physiotherapy to decrease stiffness and preserve muscle mass, and your vet will show you how to do passive joint motion exercises at home with your dog.
In young dogs, a surgical procedure called pubic symphysiodesis can be performed to improve the stability of the hip by fusing it with part of the pelvis. Older dogs who have developed hip dysplasia due to osteoarthritis may require a hip replacement if they do not respond to anti-inflammatories and physiotherapy.
Stem cell therapy is a relatively new treatment option for dogs with hip dysplasia. This treatment involves removing stem cells from fat tissue in your dog's chest, and these cells are injected into the ball and socket joint in your dog's hip. Stem cells can change into other types of cells and can bring relief from pain and stiffness in dogs with hip dysplasia by transforming into cartilage cells. Increasing the cartilage in your dog's hip provides extra cushioning and can prevent the joint from grating when your dog walks. This can reduce pain and inflammation and improve your dog's range of motion. Stem cell therapy is minimally invasive and doesn't put your dog at risk of the side effects associated with painkillers and anti-inflammatories, such as gastric upset, liver damage and dizziness.
If your dog is experiencing any of the symptoms associated with hip dysplasia, have them examined by your vet as soon as possible to prevent unnecessary discomfort.
It is a lot of responsibility to take on a new kitten. They are so little and vulnerable when you first get them and you are always worried that you aren't going to be able to meet all of their needs. That's why it's so important to have a great relationship with a vet who can give you advice and answer all of your questions about what you need to for your kitten. This blog is designed for new kitten owners and has a load of fantastic articles and resources that can help you to navigate the best way to care for your kitten.