Hip Dysplasia and Treatment
This disease of the hip joints can cause pain and discomfort for your dog, but with care and treatment a dog with hip dysplasia can have an active, full life.
What is Hip Dysplasia?
Hip dysplasia is a disease that causes malformation of the ball and socket joint of the hips. In a dog with hip dysplasia, the ball isn't properly seated in the socket. This causes the ball part of the joint to grind in the socket, instead of moving smoothly.
Dogs with hip dysplasia tend to become less active as the disease progresses, due to pain and difficulty of movement, and a decreased range of motion. They might have difficulty getting up from a sitting or lying position, and they're often reluctant to run or climb stairs. Many dogs with dysplasia have an unusual gait. For example, they may bring their hind legs forward at the same time when running or have an unsteady gait. Over time, it's common for dogs with hip dysplasia to develop arthritis in the affected joints.
While hip dysplasia is often inherited, it can occur spontaneously, especially in dogs that are overweight or obese.
What Breeds are at Risk for Hip Dysplasia?
Most breeds of dog—particularly large breeds—are at risk of hip dysplasia, but some breeds carry a much higher risk than others. Some breeds at an especially high-risk include:
• Bernese Mountain Dog
• English Setter
• English Springer Spaniel
• German Shepherd
• Labrador Retriever
• St. Bernard
• Welsh Corgi
How is Hip Dysplasia Treated?
While there are no specific methods for curing hip dysplasia in dogs that develop the disease, it's possible to reduce the severity of symptoms and slow disease progression.
• Mild exercise such as walking and swimming is beneficial, but jumping and prolonged running is best avoided
• Medications, including anti-inflammatories and analgesics, can reduce pain
• For some dogs, surgical procedures can reduce pain and sometimes restore mobility
What is My Dog's Prognosis?
Most dogs with hip dysplasia can lead full and comfortable lives, as long as they're diagnosed and treated early. However, the increased risk of arthritis makes it a common problem for older dogs with dysplasia, in addition to any problems caused by ongoing degeneration of hip joints.
Hip Dysplasia and Your Pet's Health Insurance
Pet health insurance policies are firm when it comes to congenital conditions. If your dog has already been diagnosed with dysplasia when you sign them up for insurance, it will count as a pre-existing condition, and the policy will not cover treatment. Note also that some policies may exclude certain breeds from coverage, or may exclude dysplasia as a covered condition.
If you suspect your dog is showing signs of dysplasia, don't hesitate to make an appointment. The sooner your dog is diagnosed and treated, the better their prognosis.