Is your dog at increased risk of hip dysplasia? Hip dysplasia is a serious orthopedic condition that can affect your dog as they get older.
In most cases, hip dysplasia is an inherited condition. However, there are some steps you can take to prevent severe disease.
In this article, I’ll discuss what you need to know about preventing hip dysplasia and helping your dog live a more comfortable life.
What Is Hip Dysplasia?
Hip dysplasia is an orthopedic problem that is typically seen in large or giant breed dogs. Like humans, your dog’s hip is a ball and socket joint.
Unfortunately, in dogs with hip dysplasia, the ball and socket don’t fit together properly. The poor fit is typically due to abnormal growth and can be caused by various factors.
In the early stages of canine hip dysplasia, your dog’s hips will be loose and unstable. This puts excess strain on your dog’s ligaments and causes significant damage to the joint.
As your dog gets older, your dog may experience further joint degeneration and osteoarthritis. These joint changes can be quite painful and make it difficult for your dog to get around.
Large breed dogs are more likely to develop hip dysplasia due to their size and genetics. However, nutrition, exercise, and other environmental factors can also affect your dog’s risk of developing this condition.
Luckily, understanding the causes of hip dysplasia and taking early action can help you prevent it from occurring in your pup.
Know Your Dog’s Risk
The first step in preventing hip dysplasia is understanding your dog’s risk.
Certain breeds such as German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and Saint Bernards have an increased risk of developing hip dysplasia.
Additionally, dogs who have the condition are more likely to pass it on to their puppies.
Because of this, understanding your dog’s risk plays two essential roles when it comes to prevention.
Obtaining this information can help guide your prevention plan and take action before your pet starts experiencing pain.
Additionally, it can help you make important decisions about breeding to reduce the risk of future generations developing the condition.
The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) is one of the most popular and trusted screening systems for hip dysplasia. During the screening process, x-rays are used to evaluate and grade each dog’s hips.
The results of OFA screening help predict if a dog will experience significant hip problems in the future. Keep in mind that dogs must be done growing and at least two years old for these results to be reliable.
However, veterinarians can perform preliminary screenings for dogs between 4 and 23 months old.
If your dog came from a breeder, it’s essential to ask if your dog’s parents were tested for hip dysplasia. However, if you don’t have information about your dog’s parents, that’s ok!
Knowing which breeds have a higher likelihood of developing the condition can help you make informed decisions to prevent severe disease and keep your dog comfortable.
Ways to Prevent Hip Dysplasia in Dogs:
1. Choose an Appropriate Diet
Diet is one of the most critical factors for preventing hip dysplasia and keeping your dog comfortable. When your dog’s diet is high in specific nutrients, it can promote fast growth and increase their risk of orthopedic problems.
To prevent this from occurring, choose a well-balanced diet specifically formulated for their age and size. You should also pay close attention to your dog’s calorie intake and the feeding recommendations on the dog food label.
Overfeeding can cause your dog to grow too fast and can also result in obesity. This puts excess strain on their developing joints and can lead to several orthopedic problems, including hip dysplasia.
2. Consider a Joint Supplement
In addition to monitoring your dog’s diet, joint supplements can provide significant benefits and prevent joint degeneration. Studies have shown that adding chondroitin and glucosamine to your pet’s diet can reduce their risk of severe disease.
When deciding which supplement is best for your dog, it’s a good idea to consult your vet. They can make specific recommendations based on your dog’s needs and current diet.
Over supplementation can be problematic. However, talking to your vet can be a great way to ensure your dog is on an appropriate dose.
3. Help Your Dog Build Muscle
Exercise is a tricky topic when it comes to hip dysplasia. Too much exercise at the wrong time can worsen your dog’s condition. However, a targeted exercise plan can help keep your pet comfortable and prevent joint problems.
The key is to focus on building muscle and creating hip stability. Short walks and swimming are great low-intensity exercises that help your dog build muscle without putting too much strain on their joints.
Try to avoid more high-intensity activities such as running and jumping, as these can be very hard on your dog’s hips.
4. Invest in an Orthopedic Bed
Keeping your dog comfortable can go a long way in protecting their joints. Laying on a hard surface can be uncomfortable and put excess pressure on your dog’s hips.
Instead, consider investing in an orthopedic dog bed. This little slice of luxury can keep your pet comfortable and reduce the stress on their joints. Orthopedic beds can also help alleviate pain and provide your pet some relief.
Another great benefit of orthopedic beds is that they can make it much easier for your dog to get up after a long nap.
When your dog is lying on the ground, it can be difficult for them to get the traction and momentum to lift themselves off the floor.
The support and height of the orthopedic bed can make getting up easier and prevent your dog from injuring themselves.
Summary on Ways to Prevent Hip Dysplasia in Dogs
Hip dysplasia is a degenerative disease influenced by genetic and environmental factors.
Knowing your dog’s risk, choosing an appropriate diet, and implementing a focused exercise routine are essential steps in preventing severe disease.
Additionally, investing in an orthopedic bed and using joint supplements can help improve your dog’s joint health.
When started early, these preventative tips can be highly effective in keeping your pet comfortable and reducing the pain caused by severe hip dysplasia.
If you have concerns about your dog’s hips or are interested in more specific recommendations, consider scheduling an appointment with your veterinarian.
In the meantime, I hope these tips will help your dog live a happier and healthier life!