Hip Dysplasia is a very painful condition and a very common skeletal disease seen in dogs. The condition normally starts in young dogs with an unstable or loose hip joint. The hip joints do not develop correctly leading to deterioration and eventual loss of function. This condition can also be caused later on in life by the onset of osteoarthritis.
Gender is not normally a factor in determining whether your dog will suffer from dysplasia. However, certain breeds of dog are far more susceptible than others, particularly large or giant breeds such as the German Shepherd, Great Dane, Labrador Retriever and St Bernard. There are several causes of hip dysplasia in young dogs.
Over exercise in a young dog can lead to early wearing of the bones and joints and abnormal development. Rapid weight gain is another factor; the joints and bones can only take so much weight and pressure on them before they start to wear away and malfunction. Diet and breeding are also factors.
Some of the symptoms of hip dysplasia are a decrease in activity, a reluctance to run around, jump and climb up and down stairs, difficulty in getting up and moving around, and lameness, particularly in the hind limbs. You may also notice your dog walking with a rolling gait and his shoulders may start to become heavyset. This is because he will be transferring his weight to his shoulders, to avoid the discomfort in his hind quarters.
There are things you can do to stop or minimise the risk of you dog suffering from this very painful condition. Firstly, do not over exercise your dog, particularly in the first year or so of its life. This is when the dog's bones and joints are growing and forming and when the most damage is likely to occur.
Ensure your dog is fed on a good healthy diet. This should be a balanced diet containing at least 55% protein with the rest being made up from a combination of carbohydrates, grains and vegetables. Be aware that many of the complete dog foods available on the market today do not always contain what your dog needs in a diet and supplements may be required.
An excellent supplement to give your dog if he is suffering from dysplasia is glucosamine and chondroitin. Glucosamine is a major sugar and an essential building block for the maintenance of joints and cartilage. Chondroitin enhances these sugars and also inhibits damaging enzymes.
Vitamins C and E are vital to your dog's diet have excellent inflammatory properties, as do Omega fatty acids. These can be purchased in supplement form and given to your dog daily. Calcium is also vital to the development and maintenance of your dog's bones and joints. If enough is not present already in his diet then this needs to be given daily as well. A little milk with his food will work wonders but be careful not to give too much as it can make your dog sick.
Any of the above can be given to your dog to help prevent dysplasia as well as to treat him if he already has it. As with any medical condition, veterinary advice should be sought for correct diagnosis.
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