Hip dysplasia (HD)
Hip dysplasia (HD) is a heritable growth abnormality of both hip joints that causes instability, abnormal joint function, and arthritis. HD occurs most frequently in large and giant breed dogs. Dogs with hip dysplasia may not show any signs of a problem, while others can be markedly lame: difficulty rising, limping, bunny hopping, and reluctance to jump or do stairs. Suspicion of hip dysplasia is based on breed, age, and symptoms. To confirm the diagnosis, radiographs must be taken to evaluate the hip joints for laxity. The appearance of the hips on radiographs does not always correlate with the clinical signs. That is, dogs with severe pain may have mild changes on radiographs and dogs with no pain may have marked changes on radiographs. Over time, dogs with hip dysplasia develop varying degrees of arthritis due to the instability in the joint. Treatment for hip dysplasia will depend on the age of your dog, the degree of arthritis that is present, body weight, and joint architecture. The goal of therapy is to restore the joint to normal function and eliminate pain. Some cases involve surgery, such as a triple pelvic osteotomy (TPO) and total hip replacement. Other cases may be best managed with medical interventions such as: weight loss, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s), nutritional supplements (e.g.: glucosamine and omega-3 fatty acids), and physical therapy (strengthening exercises). Dogs diagnosed with hip dysplasia should not be bred as this is a well-documented heritable condition.