Regardless of age, size, or breed dogs are susceptible to a joint condition known as hip dysplasia. While hip dysplasia is more common in certain breeds, almost any mammal including humans, cats, and dogs can suffer from hip dysplasia. Nevertheless, pet owners with large breeds like Labrador Retrievers, Rottweilers, Great Danes, Golden Retrievers, and Saint Bernards should be especially concerned with hip dysplasia as the disease tends to affect these larger breeds the most.
Hip dysplasia results from abnormal structure of the hip joint that causes the muscles, connective tissue, and ligaments that support the hip to degrade. After time, the leg bone and hip bone become separated leading to a range of symptoms, most notably osteoarthritis. Puppies as young as 5 months old may experience symptoms associated with hip dysplasia in the most severe cases, while most cases of hip dysplasia tend to present in the middle to later years of your dog’s life.
The most prevalent symptom of the condition is pain in the hip joint. Hip dysplasia progresses to the point where even normal day-to-day activities become nearly impossible and left untreated hip dysplasia will rob a dog of his ability to walk. Other common symptoms of hip dysplasia include:
- Altered gait while walking or running
- Inability or difficulty climbing
- Severe joint pain
For the most part, hip dysplasia in dogs must be treated surgically. While there are some non-surgical treatments that focus on alleviating pain, all dogs suffering from hip dysplasia will likely require surgery at some point in order to maintain normal activities. There are several surgical procedures indicated to treat hip dysplasia depending on the age of the dog and the severity of the condition. Still, as a dog owner, there are things you can do to prevent or put off surgery. Most importantly, you need to help your dog maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly, and keep warm.