Hip dysplasia in dogs and cats

Health care questions and answers about puppies and dogs

What is hip dysplasia in a dog and cat?  
Questions and answers about hip dysplasia in dogs and cats.

Hip dysplasia is a general term used to indicate a an abnormal conformation or structure to the hip joint, which medically speaking is the coxofemoral joint.  Occurring in  dogs more often than cats, the most frequently observed abnormalities are shallow hip sockets, distraction of the head of the femur (the "ball" part of this ball-and-socket joint) away from the socket, malformation of the neck of the femur to which the head of the femur is associated, and subsequent arthritis and ongoing remodeling of the joint architecture.   Genetic and environmental factors play a roll in the degree of impact hip dysplasia has on the dog or cat

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My year old Golden Retriever has what my veterinarian describes as hip dysplasia.  He showed me on some x-rays taken under anesthesia the misshapen ball and socket joints and there is even some arthritis starting.
     My alternatives for my wonderful dog are surgery, limited activity, weight control, pain medications and nutraceuticals.  How do I know what to do and when?

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Answer:  dog... hip dysplasia... what to do about
     The best answer is "it depends".   Every case is unique.  Veterinarians see patients that are not even showing signs of hip or rear leg problems and yet have advanced hip dysplasia.  And some dogs, especially between 1 and 4 years of age may have painful hips and then seem to be less comfortable in later years.  So each case needs to be evaluated individually.
      First, do not breed a dog that has hip abnormalities because there are strong inherited factors that are passed on to offspring of dysplastic parents.  Your veterinarian will tell you which grade of severity exists in your dog ad how much degenerative joint disease (DJD) is present.
     For all cases, keeping excess body weight to a minimum, feeding a high quality diet with moderate supplements such as Omega Fatty Acids, glucosamine, chondroitin, and trace minerals, is important.  Exercise usually is beneficial.
    For moderate to severe cases... depending upon age and general health status... hip replacement surgery or femoral head and neck ostectomy (FHO) surgery can be rewarding.  Otherwise, physical therapy, pain medications and a comfortable environment may be your only options.

Doctor's Notes
     The percent of dogs with hip dysplasia diagnosed today seems to be much less than 40 years ago.  Intelligent and responsible breeding practices and improved methods of diagnosis of hip dysplasia have been at the heart of this encouraging evolution. 

Smart  breeding directs us to consider all of the dog's physical and mental makeup.  No matter how good the dog looks, if any dog has an unpredictable or aggressive temperament, breeding the dog may be a mistake with ramifications for future dogs and their human caregivers. 

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Related questions and answers...

     My 4 year old Shepard has hip dysplasia and we've been doing the supplements and anti-arthritis meds for a while and they do seem to help.
  But every time I go in to the vet's office they tell me she's too heavy and needs to loose weight.
     At 80 pounds isn't that what a female German Shepard should be?  I only feed her 3 1/2 cups of good quality low fat dog food, less than what it says to feed on the directions, and I can't see feeding her less than what it says.  Is she too fat and how do you get a dog to lose weight?

Answer:  dog... hip dysplasia... overweight
     First of all, no two dogs are identical so the feeding recommendations on any pet food are "suggested amounts to feed".  My experience is that the suggested amounts are almost always providing too many calories per day... and total calories per day is the crucial factor especially if the dog's exercise sessions stay the same.
     It is a fact that in any individual, including us humans, if we consume more energy as calories from fat, carbohydrates and proteins over time than we burn for muscle and metabolism energy, our bodies are programmed to store the excess energy as fat.  In dogs and cats that are on the "light" diets or "low fat" diets, pet food companies reduce the high calorie fat as a means of consumer appeal... and therefore the percent of carbohydrate goes up.  What nobody tells you, though, is that unused extra carbohydrate is converted to and stored as fat.  And many pets have dry, itchy skin due to too low levels of high quality fat when eating only these low fat diets.  See the pages on how to get a dog or cat to lose weight.   
     The short answer is you must feed fewer total calories per day than the dog is consuming from his diet including treats, snacks, and rewards.  You don't necessarily have to stop with the treats but just remember that something in the total food intake for the day must be reduced or you will never see any weight reduction.  You must be willing to permit the dog to be a little "hungry" otherwise no weight will ever be lost.

Doctor's Notes
Important points about hip dysplasia...

arrow right   The incidence of hip dysplasia in dogs is decreasing due to better understanding of the genetic determiners that predispose some dogs to CHD.

arrow right  Genetics, environmental factors and body weight all contribute to the development of CHD.

arrow right  Feeding low quality (low protein, high carbohydrate, poorly digestible) dog foods WILL NOT forestall or diminish the expression of hip dysplasia in a dog or cat.

arrow right  Feeding too much food (larger quantities than needed to maintain proper weight) that "over-calorie" the dog will lead to excess body weight.  

arrow right  Excess body weight ,especially in large breeds of dogs while they are growing. can exacerbate joint disorders.

Info about Feline Hip Dysplasia...
Why don't cats get hip dysplasia?

Links to some excellent sites about  Hip Dysplasia

Cat Fanciers' Association
Winn Feline Foundation
X-ray using the Penn_HIP procedure
Orthopedic Foundation for Animals
Cornell Veterinary School report

Answer:  cats... hip dysplasia... why doHip dysplasia x-ray of a cat (remember... all the images in this website are copyright protected!
Who says they don't get hip dysplasia?!
   The fact is, even thought seen less often in cats, some cats do develop hip dysplasia and really can suffer from the joint deformities. 

The Winn Feline Foundation website tells us "We do know that if a cat or dog is found to have hip dysplasia, then both its parents must be either affected or carriers of the defect. Using new information, cat breeders are able to develop breeding programs to minimize the incidence of this problem in their breed."

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