Morino: Hip dysplasia starts out as laxity, or looseness, within the hip joint. Since it is a ball-and-socket joint, think of it like the ball of the femur getting knocked around within the hip joint. That extra wear and tear can lead to pain and inflammation, and will ultimately result in arthritis.
How common is it? What dog breeds are most at risk?
Morino: It’s prevalence is estimated to be around 15 percent. In breeds where hip dysplasia is more common, 50 to 75 percent of dogs can be affected. Breeds most at risk include large breed dogs like St. Bernard, German shepherd, rottweiler, golden retriever and labs. It is also commonly seen in bulldogs and some smaller dogs like pugs.
Can it be prevented?
Morino: Hip dysplasia is difficult to prevent because much of it is genetic. However, overfeeding growing puppies could potentially contribute to hip dysplasia because it can cause them to grow too rapidly. It’s important to feed puppies the recommended measured amount of food for their breed and age. If your dog has hip dysplasia, maintaining their ideal body weight can keep them comfortable, as it prevents excessive strain on their hip joints.
Another important factor for preventing pain and slowing the onset of hip problems or arthritis is exercise control. Dogs need exercise to prevent them from getting stiff and to help keep their muscles strong. However, too much exercise will result in more pain and inflammation. The key is to find the right balance of daily activity. Don’t push them too hard, and recognize that they will probably never be elite athletes.
What treatment options are there for hip dysplasia?
Morino: In addition to weight and exercise control, hip dysplasia can be medically managed through non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or other pain medications. Giving suffering dogs a high-quality joint supplement is also advised, as more studies show that some of these supplements can be beneficial in decreasing pain and inflammation.
There are several surgical options, as well, including:
Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO): Our Merriam Veterinary Care Center provides this pain-reducing procedure reserved for dogs with severe arthritis and discomfort from their hip dysplasia. During this surgery, the ball of the joint is removed to prevent abnormal bone contact. The best candidates for this surgery are dogs under 40 pounds, but it can also be performed on larger dogs. Following this procedure, with the aid of physical rehabilitation, most dogs are able to return to their previous activity level.
Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis (JPS): This surgery is geared for puppies under 18 weeks old that have been diagnosed with hip dysplasia. The procedure closes one of the growth plates on the pelvis and allows for better coverage of the hips as the puppy grows.
Triple Pelvic Osteotomy (TPO): This surgery is for puppies under 10 months old and can only be done in dogs that do not have any evidence of arthritis. During this operation, three cuts are made into the pelvis and the segments are rotated to give the ball of the femur better coverage within the hip socket.
Total Hip Replacement (THR): A total hip replacement can be done in dogs over one year old that have severe hip dysplasia or display signs of arthritis.