Is It Hip Dysplasia or Just Sore Muscles?

Any dog can get hip dysplasia, but big dogs get hip dysplasia more often than little dogs. German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Saint Bernards, and Rottweilers are particularly susceptible to this problem.

Why Do Big Dogs Have Hip Problems

Hip dysplasia happens when dogs are in their growth stage as puppies. It occurs due to the abnormal growth and development of a dog’s hip joint.

The reason that hip dysplasia is more common in large dogs is that their rate of growth is much faster than that of small dogs, giving the hips more chances to form incorrectly.

What Causes Hip Dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia doesn’t just have one cause, but genetics and nutrition both play a role. If your dog has a sibling or a parent with hip dysplasia they are more likely to get the disease.

Climbing lots of steps when a large dog is a puppy can also influence the development of hip dysplasia.

How to Prevent Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

You can’t always prevent hip dysplasia, but there are many things that you can do that will help keep your dog from getting this condition.

Puppy Nutrition: It’s extremely important to make sure that your puppy has proper nutrition. That means buying good quality dog food that is specifically formulated for large breed puppies. These types of food have enough calories and extra nutrition to help protect joints.

Choose Your Breeder Wisely: Genetics is the largest contributor to hip dysplasia. You want to use a breeder that knows their dog’s genetic health history for four generations. If any of the parents or grandparents had hip dysplasia your dog is more likely to get it.

Keep Your Dog at a Healthy Weight: When a dog is overweight it puts more stress on their joints. It’s important to feed them appropriately and make sure your dog gets exercise to keep them at a healthy weight.

Avoid Too Much Exercise for Puppies: When your puppies are growing you want to keep exercise limited to easy strolls on grass or other soft surfaces. Avoid intensive and long play times or hard exercise with young big breed dogs, since their hips are still developing.

Consider Supplements: There are many joint protection formulations on the market for big dogs. Check with your veterinarian to see what supplement they would recommend for joint protection.

Avoid Neutering Too Young: If you neuter or spay your dog before they reach one year old, they are twice as likely to develop hip dysplasia. While neutering or spaying your dog is important, waiting until they are a year old can help prevent this disease.

Have Your Vet Regularly Check Your Large Breed Puppy For Hip Dysplasia: Since hip dysplasia develops when your dog is a puppy, you should have your large breed dog regularly screened for hip dysplasia. There are corrective surgeries available for dogs, but they work the best if they are done while your dog is young.

What Are The First Signs of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

The symptoms of hip dysplasia can occur on their own or with other diseases like osteoarthritis. There are signs that you should be aware of because hip dysplasia can occur in puppies that are just four months old as well as in older dogs.

When a dog has hip dysplasia you may notice:

  • Lower levels of activity
  • Not as much range of motion
  • A harder time climbing stairs, jumping, running or getting up from laying down
  • Lameness in their back legs
  • A bunny hopping gait or a gait that sways
  • Grating of the joints during movement
  • Loss of muscle mass in the thighs
  • Gaining muscle mass in their shoulders to make up for what they’ve lost in their thighs
  • Pain
  • Limping or stiffness

At What Age Does Hip Dysplasia Appear in Dogs?

Because hip dysplasia forms when dogs are puppies it can appear at any age from four months on. Many dogs develop the symptoms of hip dysplasia later in life as they age.

Is Hip Dysplasia Painful in Dogs?

Yes. Hip Dysplasia is painful and it can occur in many different levels of severity. The amount of pain that your dog feels from their hip dysplasia will depend on how severe the condition is and your dog’s tolerance for pain.

How Can I Help My Big Dog With Hip Dysplasia

There are both surgical and non-surgical options for hip dysplasia. Non-surgical options include:

  • Helping your dog lose weight
  • Not exercising on hard surfaces
  • Getting physical therapy that addresses the joint pain
  • Supplements that can help protect the joints
  • Anti-inflammatory medications
  • Joint fluid modifiers

Surgical options include:

DPO/TPO: This is the surgery that is typically performed on puppies under 10 months old when hip dysplasia is detected early. It repairs the function of the ball and socket joint.

FHO: FHO surgery can be performed on dogs at any age. In this surgery, the dog’s “ball” of the hip joint is removed. This doesn’t restore their gait or the function of their hips, but it can relieve their pain.

THR: This stands for total hip replacement and it’s one of the best treatment options for dogs with hip dysplasia. The surgeon replaces the whole joint with implants and it can give your dog much of its function back.

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