Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia is a congenital disease that causes hip joint arthritis in both cats and dogs. Hip Dysplasia can be caused by many factors, including genetics, environment, diet, and age. This disease affects both dogs and cats but the symptoms can differ slightly between these two species.

What Pets are Affected by Hip Dysplasia?

While dogs are mainly affected by Hip Dysplasia, it also occurs in some cat breeds too. In large dog breeds Hip Dysplasia is most common, and the same is true for larger cats. Himalayans and Main Coons are the breeds most likely to be affected. While cats can get Hip Dysplasia it is much more common in dog breeds.

Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia

 Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia may vary. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Limping
  • Difficulty getting up and lying down
  • Muscle spasms in leg muscles when standing or sitting down.
  • Reluctance to exercise or play, and less active than the other dogs of the same breed. 
  • Difficulty standing or sitting down. Dogs may also stay for a few minutes before they get up
  • Swaying gait while moving also indicates your pet is in pain.
  • Sudden increase of skeletal size, mainly seen at the pelvic region. This may be due to instability and/or overgrowth of the pelvis
  • Stiffness in the hip joints, but this is rare. Your dog may also have difficulty moving and walking

Stages of Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia doesn’t suddenly appear in your pet. The problem will slowly develop over time going through different stages from mild to severe.

During the first stage of Hip Dysplasia, your pet may not show any arthritic changes in their X-ray report. Your pet likely will not show any clinical signs of the problem. At this stage it’s often classified as Mild Hip Dysplasia if it’s even diagnosed. Exercise and a better diet at this stage may help your pet recover without needing surgery.

The second stage can occur as early as three months of age, but usually occurs sometime after your pet is two years old. During this stage, your cat or dog may start experiencing pain and weakness in their hips. Detectable bony changes on the x-rays may also be seen at this point. These can be seen as very fine lines along the femur bone and on the pelvis bone. There might be significant looseness or laxity in the hip joint, but not enough to require surgery.

By the third stage of the disease, development of scar tissues around the joint and bone spurs around the ball and socket can be seen. These develop as a result of progressive loss of cartilage due to laxity in the hip joint. More symptoms like difficulty getting up and limping can be seen by stage three.

At stage four, severe arthritic changes can be seen in the X-ray of your pet. The radiologist will assign a score to the X-ray diagram which represents how severe the hip dislocation is. Most cases by this stage will be moderate and severe, usually the only option left will be surgery.

Treatment For Hip Dysplasia

If you suspect that your pet may be suffering from Hip Dysplasia, it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible.

If your pet is in severe pain, they should be treated with painkillers. If your pet is overweight, the best option is to lose weight and decrease stress on their joints. More exercise can help improve their movement and maintain muscle strength in their hips.

There are some surgical techniques available to help dogs with Hip Dysplasia, such as:

Total hip replacement is a surgery where the hip joint is replaced with a prosthetic implant. This type of surgery can improve mobility and quality of life for pets suffering from Hip Dysplasia. Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis is a surgical procedure performed on the pelvis of young dogs. It involves fusing two pubic bones together with stitches, which results in a tighter joint and improved joint stability.

Surgery is used to treat some cases of Hip Dysplasia in dogs, but it does not guarantee total recovery. 

How to Prevent Hip Dysplasia

Breed of Your Pet

The disease affects all breeds, especially large and giant dogs like Saint Bernards, Labrador retrievers, German Shepherds, and Golden Retrievers. Getting a dog from a breed known to have a problem won’t mean that your dog will get Hip Dysplasia, but it is a warning sign that you should be especially careful with.

Weight of Your Pet

A dog doesn’t have to be overweight for Hip Dysplasia to occur. Extra weight on a dog’s body can cause strain on their hips, potentially leading to Hip Dysplasia. Keeping your dog at an optimal weight is the best way to decrease this strain.

Monitor Diet

You should be aware of the food your pet is eating. A veterinarian can help you figure out a diet that is best for your pet’s health.

Activity Level

A dog with Hip Dysplasia may not be able to exercise as much as a healthy dog. If your dog has difficulty getting around, you can talk to your veterinarian about different exercises that may help them. Your vet might recommend swimming, which is great for dogs with Hip Dysplasia.