How to Prevent Hip Dysplasia in Dogs, A Common Health Issue

Published: 04th December 2009
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What is Hip Dysplasia?

One of the most common health problems that affect dogs is known as "Hip Dysplasia." Found in many different breeds with different levels of commonality, hip dysplasia can cause your dogs a great deal of pain, due to poor positioning of the hips that is exacerbated over the course of your dog's life. It is not uncommon for hip dysplasia to lead to such issues as paralysis, extreme discomfort, and immobility.

How Can You Prevent Hip Dysplasia?

There are many different opinions on how we can prevent hip dysplasia. The one thing we can all agree on is selective breeding. We can reduce the instances of hip dysplasia significantly if we only breed animals that have certified hips. It's important that when you search for a new puppy, that you insist on parents and grandparents that have certified good or excellent hips (out to 3 or 4 generations).

In German Shepherds, the dog you purchase must have passable hips certified through an acceptable organization such as the SV (German Shepherd Dog Club of Germany) or OFA (Orthopedic Foundation of America). At 1 year of age, the SV accepts hip radiographs and issues an "A" stamp if the hips meet the standards. To be certified under OFA, the dog must be at least 2 years of age. But OFA will give you a preliminary reading at a younger age. The mandatory x-ray requirements of the Germans have done a much better job of reducing instances of hip dysplasia. What is the ratio for Hip Dysplasia in the German Shepherd from Germany today? The current ratio is 7%! The average German Shepherd from Germany will show 10 to 15+ generations with EVERY dog in the pedigree certified against Hip Dysplasia.

Other factors that can influence hip dysplasia in dogs are:

Poor Nutrition

It's important for you to be very aware of what you are feeding your dog. Dog foods that have been over-supplemented with additional protein, minerals, and vitamins could make your puppy grow faster than they were intended to grow. This can cause orthopedic problems!

Dogs that are fed a calorie-limited diet will reach the same adult size as overfed dogs, but will do so in a gradual pace. There is a reduced likelihood of developing the problems associated with hip dysplasia.

Consider a raw meat and bone diet, as it will give your dog all the nutrients it needs, including calcium and Vitamin C, which is very important to a growing dog. Feeding your dog raw chicken bones is a great way to prevent hip dysplasia. The chicken bones are pure calcium and the chicken joints are Chondroitin. Ester C is also great for preventing hip dysplasia. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Commercial dog food diets include nutrients that are added in and overcooked, which is difficult for a dog's body to process.

Inadequate or Improper Exercise

Watch the types of exercise your dog is engaged in. Are they jumping up and down from big heights? Do they frequently jump up in the air to catch a Frisbee or similar toy? Do they stand on their hind legs often (perhaps against a fence or window)? Do they climb stairs on a frequent basis? All of these activities can aggravate the joints.

One great way to prevent hip dysplasia is to bring your dog into your own exercise activities, such as walking, jogging, or even swimming with your dog (this limits the stress put on the joints). Massage therapy is another technique that is frequently used on the dog's hips and legs to prevent or relive symptoms associated with hip dysplasia.

Increased Body Weight

Growing dogs should not be fed a diet that is too high in calories. DO NOT OVERFEED PUPPIES UNDER 1 YEAR OF AGE. Excessive weight or quick weight gain puts a large amount of stress on the ball and socket joint of the hip. It's critical that you monitor your dog's weight to ensure they do not become overweight. Your veterinarian can tell you the ideal weight for your breed of dog.

A Comfortable Sleeping Place

Don't forget about your dog's comfort at night! Hip Dysplasia can be at its worst in cold weather. Keep your dog's sleeping place warm (perhaps near the fire place) or well insulated with warm sheets. A two inch foam orthopedic bed can really help minimize any pain or swelling.

Oral Supplements

Many holistic veterinarians can suggest certain ingredients that do help with hip dysplasia. These include Glucosamine and Chondroitin, and there are others as well. I give my dogs K9 liquid Health level 5000 vitamins every day from weaning for the rest of their lives and a calcium supplement, and I feed them mostly frozen raw diet and Canidae Grain free Salmon meal all life stages. I NEVER over feed my dogs. In the wild they don't always get a constantly full bowl of food, it is not the way nature intended.

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