The diagnosis of hip dysplasia comes as a shock to many dog owners because treatment can be expensive.
In hip dysplasia (HD), the round femoral head does not match its counterpart, the acetabulum. This usually happens because the pan is not deep enough. Since the two parts of the joint do not fit perfectly together, the joint is looser than a healthy joint. This leads to small tears of the joint capsule, the surrounding ligaments, and minor abrasions of the cartilage. The joint becomes chronically inflamed, leading to initial pain.
The longer the condition persists, the more severe the changes in the joint become. The body then tries to stabilize the unstable joint through bone remodeling processes. These bone formations are called osteoarthritis. At the final stage, the cartilage is completely erased, and the anatomical shape of the joint is practically not recognized.
Large Dog Breeds are Especially Prone to Hip Dysplasia
The dog breeds most commonly affected by HD are large breeds such as Labradors, Shepherds, Boxers, Golden Retrievers, and Bernese Mountain Dogs. However, in principle, the disease can occur in any dog.
In severe hip dysplasia, joint changes begin as early as four months of age in the puppy. The final stage is usually reached around the age of two. If a young dog with hip dysplasia does a lot of sports, the joints can be damaged more quickly because young dogs don’t have enough muscle to stabilize the hips.
How to Recognize Hip Dysplasia
Typical signs of hip dysplasia are reluctance or problems with the dog when standing up, climbing stairs, and long walks. Bunny jumping is also a sign of hip problems. When running, the dog jumps under the body with two hind legs at the same time, instead of using them alternately. Some dogs exhibit a swaying gait that resembles the swaying of a runway model’s hips. Other dogs can also be markedly paralyzed.
However, not every dog has these symptoms. If you have a large dog, you should talk to your veterinarian about the condition the first time you get vaccinated.
A reliable diagnosis can only be obtained from a veterinarian who will conduct a correctly placed X-ray under anesthesia. In the early stages, joints are often unchanged radiographically. Then your veterinarian will receive a single clue from the so-called distraction records. The top shekels are pressed against your dog and the veterinarian measures the looseness of the hip joints on an x-ray. This type of recording is very painful for your waking animal and therefore cannot be performed or evaluated without anesthesia.
Different Treatment Options for Hip Dysplasia
Depending on the severity of hip dysplasia and the age of the animal, different treatments are possible.
Up to the fifth month of life, obliteration of the growth plate (juvenile pubic symphysis) can provide a change in the direction of growth of the pelvic scapula and better coverage of the femoral head. The procedure is relatively straightforward and dogs quickly feel well again after surgery.
Triple or double pelvic osteotomy is possible from the sixth to the tenth month of life. The sink is sawn in two to three places and is adjusted using plates. The operation is much more complicated than epiphysiodesis but has the same goal.
Both of these interventions prevent the occurrence of joint osteoarthritis, primarily by promoting proper pelvic growth. However, if a young dog already has joint changes, changing the position of the pelvis will of course no longer have any effect.
Artificial Hip Joints Can Be Expensive
In adult dogs, it is possible to use an artificial hip joint (total hip replacement, TEP). This operation is very expensive, time-consuming, and risky. However, if successful, the treatment offers the dog a high quality of life, as it can use the joint completely painlessly and without restriction throughout its life.
So that dog owners do not have to pay only for the costs of the operation, we recommend taking out insurance for the operation on dogs. But beware: many providers do not cover any costs for hip dysplasia surgery.
HD can only be treated conservatively, that is, without surgery. Mostly a combination of pain relievers and physical therapy is used to keep the hip joints as stable and painless as possible.