We can quickly translate hip dysplasia by:
pain in a hip that functions badly.
Why does it function badly?
Because it’s geometry has become anomalous somewhere during the growth of the puppy.
Have you ever seen a puppy that avoids running too much? That is constantly sitting down when playing? That is galloping diferently from other dogs – his feet come off the ground at the same time and contact the floor at the same time also?
These dogs are suspects of having hip dysplasia.
How can I raise my suspicion? – The hip extension test
We are going to teach you a simple test that has shown to be very usefull in the detection of this disease, consisting in a slow and progressive passive extension of the hip.
1. Put yourself behind the dog and place one hand over his rump. With the other hand hold the leg you are testing a little bit above the knee.
2. Slowly and progressively pull the knee up and backwards observing the dogs behavioural response. Full extension will be reached when the knee is a little bit under the rump plane. Stop the test if the dog shows signs of discomfort, if that is the case
3. The possible reactions are:
– Obvious signs of pain whining, looking towards the hip, dodge from the position, bitting
(Attention! If you don’t trust the dog you are testing do not perform the test or use a muzzle);
– Light signs of disconfort (the same responses but less lively, some dogs just lie down as a way of saying they don’t like the manipulation);
– No reaction – some dogs will find strange this kind of play because they’re not used to it, if we repeat it several times trying to show we are just playing, he will clearly show no pain or discomfort, and that the avoidance was because of not being familiar with that kind of play.
Reasons for the test not working:
– Some dogs do not like to being grabbed this way because that might be interpreted has a position of dominance and they will not like it. In these cases the reactions of dodging and/or growling might not be a sign of pain.
– Some dogs do not like being touched and will react badly no matter where you manipulate them besides being petted. But the owner will know that better than anybody.
– Some dogs have pain in the lumbar spine and will show signs of pain with this test. This is very rare in large breed young dogs and most likely to occur in an elder dog.
Treatments for hip dysplasia
Not all dogs with hip dysplasia are candidates for surgical treatment. Why?
– Some dogs have very subtle signs of the disease and we don’t recognize it. Sometimes we only recognize it when the dog is old aged. It is possible for dysplasia to remain silent for most of the dog’s life. If the dogs life quality is not affected by the disease we can remain vigilant keeping in mind that an aggravation of symptoms can justify surgery. This decision is very complicated if we are dealing with a juvenile dog. These dogs hips have still “plasticity“ and surgery at this age could avoid more serious symptoms in the future.
Other dogs with advanced degenerative joint disease in their hips may not be candidates for some surgical techniques and the cost/benefit analysis may exclude them from total hip replacement.
Which measures benefit all hip dysplasia dogs?
Weight control. Equals to not overloading the hips. That helps hip dysplasia patients to compensate the disease and may help preventing that some puppies develop the disease.
Exercising in adequate floors. We consider an adequate floor one that is not slippery to the dog (not to the human), in which the nails are not excessively worn and that absorbs the shock of running and jumping activities, sparing the joints from excessive stress (asphalt/concrete floors are not adequate floors for prolonged exercise).
Can medication help?
Anti-inflammatory drugs are useful for alleviating pain and inflammation in acute crisis. They are not good choices for long term treatment.
How can surgery help dogs with dysplasia?
Surgery can help these dogs to achieve good quality of life. The surgical techniques change the hip’s geometry in different ways so that the dog can compensate for the disease preventing them for having crisis and taking pain killers and anti-inflammatory drugs.
At what age can we detect dysplasia?
The most recent studies have focused on early diagnosis. Some of these studies point out that at 4 months of age we can obtain reliable orthopedic and radiological examinations. It is our personal experience that we can detect signs of hip disconfort even sooner than the 4 months of age. This findings would tell us to keep tight medical surveillance of these dogs.