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Dog hip dysplasia

enero 12, 2021

The topic addressed in this post concerns one of the most feared pathologies by us dog owners, especially by those who own a large dog and specific breeds: hip dysplasia.

In general, the term dysplasia identifies a pathological process characterized by a altered qualitative-quantitative proportional distribution of the constituent elements of a fabric or an organ. In detail, therefore, hip dysplasia is a pathology with a multifactorial etiology, which consists of a malformation of the coxo-femoral joint (hip), which occurs during the growth of the dog. It is a non-congenital, but partially hereditary disease.

The shape of the hip joint requires that the head of the femur and a cavity formed by the acetabulum. In an optimal articulation, the head of the femur must be able to rotate within the concave space offered by the acetabulum, so much so that visually we can imagine it as a sphere that rotates, according to a perfect fit, inside a cup.

hip dysplasia dog cures

When there is no longer a perfect congruence between the joint heads of the hip, that is when this perfect joint is lost, the movements of the dog will no longer be well distributed and cushioned, but on the contrary they will cause a progressive and incorrect deterioration of the margins. joints and degeneration of articular cartilage. Over time, these conditions can become responsible for severe chronic osteoarthritis characterized by more or less intense pain.

We have already mentioned that this pathology has a multifactorial etiology and therefore there are many i factors that contribute to its appearance. Among the most important factors we remember:

Genetic factor. The most important factor is genetics. Genetic transmission is determined by numerous genes and therefore is defined as polygenic. The pathology can manifest itself, and can therefore be transmitted with great probability to the unborn child, in two cases: first in the case in which the father or mother of the subject both have dysplasia, second case in which the disease can be transmitted from the parent to a descendant without the parent presenting the pathology. The parent will in fact be a healthy carrier of the disease genes. In fact, dysplasia does not express itself and does not manifest itself in all genetically affected subjects, but only in some. Therefore, in order for dysplasia not to occur, the genetic heritage of parents, uncles, grandparents, siblings must be free from dysplasia genes. All of this explains why veterinarians strongly advise against breeding dysplastic dogs, and instead of carefully choosing a breeder on the basis of his entire gene pool, thus evaluating all his kinship in order not to make mistakes.

Environmental factor. Some environmental factors also play an important role in expressing the extent and severity of the disease, which will in any case have a genetic basis. Among these we consider wrong habits, such as making the dog perform excessive physical activity from an early age. The dog can clearly be free in his movements, but without exaggeration, which, as in everything, as in any case, is deleterious. The presence of more or less significant traumas or other more or less serious concomitant pathologies still contributes to the determinism of the pathology. Furthermore, exaggerated stresses can facilitate the development of dysplasia.

Food factor. In the case of an animal with a marked genetic predisposition to dysplasia, the dietary factor is of fundamental importance in the possible worsening of the clinical picture. We talk about food errors in this case when we refer to dogs that are fed incorrectly from a qualitative and quantitative point of view. In fact, these are cases in which the dog is commonly fed with leftover food, table scraps or unbalanced nutrition or even over-fed dogs. Hyper-fed animals, those in which a greater development of muscle mass is achieved at the expense of bone mass, those in which there are imbalances in the development of the supporting soft tissues, are among those that most commonly may incur this pathology. These will be conditions in which our friend will not have the right amount of elements and nutrients essential for his correct and healthy growth.

Stingray. There hip dysplasia it is a pathology that unfortunately recognizes a correlation with specific breeds. It is more frequent in large or giant breed animals such as: German Shepherd, Great Dane, Bernese Mountain Dog, Boxer, Cane Corso, Dogue de Bordeaux, Retriversi, Rottweiler, etc …

In the event that our friend is affected by this pathology, the symptoms may be varied and with symptoms that may vary also depending on the severity of the pathological state and age of onset. Hip dysplasia is a pathological condition that occurs from birth, but the manifestations of the symptoms are extremely variable. In young animals, which include those who have not finished growing, and therefore those aged between 5 and 10 months, we detect symptoms such as:

  • severe lameness with sudden onset,
  • difficulty getting up, reluctance to move, preference in maintaining the decubitus position,
  • obvious pain when moving the hind limbs,
  • more or intense chin pain, which is evident above all in walking and extra-rotation during the clinical visit.

We also consider that dysplasia involves the entire posterior train, and can be unilateral or bilateral. In adult animals, however, which include subjects older than one year, we will have:

  • unilateral lameness,
  • lameness that usually appears «hot» and then after the animal has worked, ran,
  • reluctance to move associated with very slow and difficult movements
  • marked hypomyotrophy on clinical inspection of the affected limb or both, if the bilateral form is present.

In the most serious cases, the so-called rabbit gait, in which the animal, during the movement, raises the hind limbs brought together. As is evident, the pathology has a truly disabling character, characterized by intense pain and a predisposition to forms of chronic arthrosis.

This, coupled with the fact that it is one genetic based pathology, makes us understand how essential an early diagnosis is. In fact, being able to identify this pathology at its beginnings will make it possible to implement the necessary measures to limit the damage that it can cause in the subject over time. In fact, it is thought that three and a half months is the earliest age to detect with certainty the signs of dysplasia, because it is precisely in these months that the first articulated alterations begin to manifest themselves and show themselves, which allows the doctor to identify the possible tendency of the animal to develop a form of hip disease. In fact, the doctor will be able to identify the pathology by understanding and also predicting what could be the severity that the subject would express as an adult. Furthermore, identifying the pathological state so early, that is when the articular cartilage has not yet undergone serious modifications and alterations, makes it possible to modulate the joint development in order to avoid the progression of damage and contain the pathological picture as much as possible.

To have the certainty of the absence of the pathology instead, you have to wait for the complete musculoskeletal development of our friend, and therefore a year, or a year and a half of age, depending on the breed considered. The diagnosis will be performed by an orthopedic veterinarian, who with a series of clinical and instrumental examinations will make a diagnosis and set, if necessary, a targeted and adequate therapy.

In general, in fact the therapy of this pathology can be conservative or surgical. There will be many parameters that the doctor will have to evaluate before opting for an adequate therapeutic protocol, since it is such a complex and serious pathology. In any case, daily care, compliance with precise rules, compliance with the advice that the doctor will provide us, will be the key to ensuring proper management of our friend.