Canine Hip Dysplasia
As this Canine problem exists to a large degree l looked at some books of mine and thought that l would send this out so as you may be able to access your own dog.
By Fred L. Lanting with contributions by Dr. Wayne H. Riser & Dr. Sten-Erik Olsson.
Often referred to as HD, hip dysplasia in the canine can sometimes be identified through a study of the individual dog in motion, although the only accurate diagnosis is by pelvic radiographs. Most breeds have a wide range of tactile sensitivity or threshold pain, so that one dog with a mild form of HD may be very uncomfortable, while another with more HD may exhibit no pain or limping.
Generally, but not always, dogs with the worst x-rays will have the worst gait. Dogs developing HD will often exhibit a crippling lameness by 5 to 8 months of age. Lesser degrees of severity may show an unwillingness to stay out in the cold, difficulty in rising on the hind legs or climbing stairs, dragging the rear toe nails, or a lack of stamina, some days showing these and some days none.
Sometimes HD in the young dog may show suddenly following a trauma or without an observed cause. The pup’s weight on an unstable joint, by the forces of playing can pull a loose, incompletely formed joint apart and produce pain. Some of the soft tissues and the rim of the acetabulum may tear or fracture, resulting in obvious gait changes even after the acute episode subsides.
A dog with more than the most mild form of HD may take shorter steps than a dog with normal or near normal hips. It may also toe in at the rear, with stifles (knees) held closely together. But this in it self is not a sure sign; some dogs have inherited a characteristic walk with toes pointing inward just a little, although their hips may be normal.
Cow-hocks and rolling gait are mentioned as signs of dysplasia, but it must be remembered that such conditions are seen in normal hip dogs as well, possibly due to loose ligaments/tendons, excessive bone length or angulation, and/or rotated bones.
The more signs that appear together, the more suspicious it becomes. Clinical signs in puppies may include bunny hopping and sitting on one hip, especially when other pups of the same age have outgrown those traits. When it appears in older pups or mature dogs of one or two years of age, HD may be evidenced by difficulty in getting up quickly or an apparent discomfort when standing on all fours. Some dogs will lean forward with head lowered in an attempt to shift some weight forward and off the rear quarters. Hind legs may cross over when trotting, as seen fairly easily from the rear. One sign by itself should not lead to any conclusion.
Adult dogs may have intermittent lameness which develops into chronic lameness after 4 years of age. This is caused by secondary degenerative joint disease (arthritis). Some dogs will not be able to stand much pressure laterally or downward on the hind quarters.
Radiographic Signs A good radiograph, taken of a properly positioned dog, will show how deeply set within the acetabulum the femoral head is and how much, if any, deviation from normal there is in the bony structures of the joint. Radiography gives the only definitive determination of HD in the dog.
If our dogs have HD the best we as owners can do is have a plan as how to manage HD and the secondary disease of arthritis.