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Heartbreaking Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is an inherited arthritis-type condition that can involve one or both of your dog’s hips. Certain breeds are pre-disposed to this extremely painful condition. Find out more about this crippling disease.

You may first notice that your dog is limping and moving painfully during training sessions when he’s very active, even as a puppy. Hip dysplasia wears the down cartilage lining of the joints because of stress and strain placed upon the hip joints, causing severe arthritis. Your dog will have posterior pain, unsteadiness on his back feet, difficulty rising from a prone position and will be reluctant to move. He may also whimper or cry from pain when he moves.

The problem can occur in any breed, but is most often seen in large pure-bred dogs; German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers and St. Bernards. German Shepherds who were bred from a parent dog who has this condition have an 80% chance of developing it themselves. When purchasing one of these breeds, it’s imperative that the breeder give you a certificate of health signed by a veterinarian that says the dog and his parents are free of this condition. If the breeder/seller refuses to do this, stay away!

Surgery is often beneficial for dogs with hip dysplasia by completely reconstructing the hip joints with artificial prosthetic devices. If, for any reason, your dog isn’t a surgical candidate, sometimes anti-inflamatory drugs like steroids will decrease pain. Steroids, however, have side effects like kidney disease when taken long-term; sometimes the treatment is worse than the condition itself.

Other non-steroidal drugs like Rimadyl, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate can be helpful in decreasing pain and stimulating your dog’s ability to repair damaged cartilage naturally. If your vet diagnoses hip dysplasia, the two of you will discuss how best to treat this painful condition.

To your very great sorrow, sometimes your dog’s hip dysplasia doesn’t respond to treatment and he is in constant severe pain. In this case, your vet will speak plainly to you about humane euthanasia. You will have some choices to make that are in the best interests of your dog.

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