Hip dysplasia in a genetic, inherited disease that is found in all breeds and sizes of dogs

Hip Dysplasia in a genetic,  inherited disease that is found in all breeds and sizes of dogs.  Most common in the larger breeds, even small and toy breeds suffer from this disability.  Even though it is not fatal, this condition can lead to debilitating loss of motion, primarily in the hindquaraters, as the dog ages and joint deterioration increases.  Dogs with this condition usually suffer from Arthritis as well which causes additional pain and joint swelling.  Occasionally, an accident or injury can cause the same problems.

Hip Dysplasia effects the ball and socket joints of the hip and can be found in one or both hips.  The round leg joint (ball joint) fits into the hollow socket (socket joint) of the pelvis.  In healthy dogs, the fit is nearly perfect.  There is also a muscle that stabalizes the joint.  This also acts as a connector between the femur (leg bone) and the the pelvis.  There is also something called a “joint capsule”, a very strong gristle type  connecting tissue that covers the entire ball and socket and creates a very tight, smooth moving joint action.  There is also a layer of cartiledge that acrs as a cushion where the ball and socket come together.  This is surrounded b a lubricant the protect the bone from the wear and tear of constant movement and contact.

In Hip dysplasia, these joints have not formed properly during gestation and/or growth.  The wall of the socket may be too flat and not support the ball, or the ball m ay be too large or not rounded to fit into the socket.  This results in growth problems with the muscles and connecting tissues that are designed to hold the joint together.  The result is a loose joint causing rubbing between the joint surfaces.  The carlilage deteriorates, lubricating fluid is lost and the constant contact of normal movement continues to make the situation worse. 

The first sign your dog may be having a problem is stiffness and pain in one or both of the rear legs, especially after excersize or play.  As the dog matures, the pain is more constant and the dog exhibits discomfort when attempting to lay down or stand up, even sitting and normal walking is more noticable.

Diagnosis is confirmed through vet exams and xrays.  In the breeds where this condition is most common, your vet will request xrays as a puppy to either determine whether or not the dog is predsposed to this condition.  If confirmed, the vet will begin treatment as early as possible.  The damage is irreversible, however, medication, specific excercies, warm sleeping area, and diet have beem proven to slow the deterioration.  Massage and physical therapy help to reduce pain and discomfort as well as increase range of motion.

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