Signs of Hip Dysplasia

Discussion in 'Dog Health' started by tx_cowgirl, Mar 8, 2009.

  1. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    None of my dogs have ever had hip dysplasia, although we've had breeds prone to it. I don't know a whole lot about it and it's never been much of a concern...but lately I've been wondering. I'm not 100% sure what to look for exactly, other than the obvious hip pain. And yes, I do realize I need to speak with my vet--just haven't done it yet. :)

    First of all, Mud was a rescue, so no health guarantees or hip tests or anything like that could've warned me of anything. I've had her a little over a year now, and for as long as I remember she's been a little slow to get up when she's snoozing on her side or laying with her legs to one side. She's extremely active, and she hasn't had trouble with any activities I've thrown at her--if she did I would stop immediately. She can't jump very high, which isn't exactly a concern, but with her build it shouldn't be hard for her really. Push ups are very easy, and she has no trouble going from sits or downs to stands. But when she's just laying around either on her side or with her legs to one side, she has a little trouble getting up. Running doesn't bother her a bit. If I ask for a high jump, it takes a great deal of effort on her part to do it. For this reason I have hardly ever asked for much height over things with her. I've also noticed that the claws on one back paw wear much, much more than the other side.

    Sometimes it just seems like her hips bother her a bit. So here's my questions:

    What should I look for, and are these things to worry about?

    Can hip dysplasia effect only one hip?

    Can this develop at any age, and if she's already having trouble at 4 yrs old then should I be panicing and supporting canine hip replacement research? (Lol. :dogwub: )

    When her hips get checked out by the vet, if they find something, what should I expect? How is it treated? Is it treatable? Curable? Can damage be fixed or does treatment just slow the dysplasia's progress?

    Being an active dog, do I need to worry about curbing her activity? I really don't want to, because she would really hate it. But, if she needs it, then....well, lots more trick training for us I suppose. :)

    Is there anything else I need to know?

    Thanks a bunch everyone. I think I've been kind of putting it off because I'm not sure I want to know. :dogunsure: But regardless, I won't neglect her needs. She is indeed a very happy and active dog, and for the most part she doesn't have problems--it's just when she's getting up from a "lazy down"(lying without legs underneath her). Seeing as how it's been a consistent thing though, I don't think it's normal. The only problem she's had otherwise was once after a long jog and looong game of fetch with Zeke. We were in the field a little ways behind my house, and when we walked back she was dragging her rear paws--walking, but dragging her toes. That seemed more neurological to me, but after drinking lots, getting a massage, and resting, she was raring to go again and seemed fine. She's never done that again, so I don't think that's related at all. Anyway...just wanted to know if I'm being crazy or if I should be rushing her to the vet ASAP.

  2. snooks Experienced Member

    Answers are yes one hip can be affected or symptomatic, or both. Yes for 1 yo in a severe case to be affected. Yes there are things to look for BEFORE hip pain starts so you can slow/arrest the process. If you have a breed at risk despite a perfect pedigree you should take precautionary/preventative action period. My Golden boy drew the bad elbow gene despite no history on either side ever. Controlled exercise and lean weight are very very important. Without these two key things the inflammatory process that is a reaction to uncontrolled exercise and weight is the irreversible but largely preventable or at least minimizable (is that a word?) part of the disease process. Some vets believe a simple manipulation is sufficient but I disagree if the hip is asymptomatic at the time as my boy’s were.

    I was the one that kept insisting something was wrong for years and no one took me seriously. So 3 elbow surgeries later he was much better but it never had to go there. It was painful and difficult to recover from too and the broke off a drill bit in his elbow which threw another chip. I asked and should have INSISTED on a radiograph test early but everyone fought me. No he’s fine you’re being over reactive..but he’s limping…no he’s not. Blah blah blah. U know ur dog. It’s our money to spend.

    It would have given him a much greater life and cost less than the surgery but I didn’t really know. Now I do so I’ll share it. If it helps one dog then Shamba will be proud of me. He was back to doing 1inch jumps but otherwise full on agility because activity is good. It’s not limited so much that life isn’t good. Often they may need more of the right exercise than we give them. Potato dogs aren’t good for this, active ones do better but need to be done right.

    I would with unknown origin or any dog at risk get and OFA done so you will absolutely KNOW. Then diet can become a HUGE factor in helping with weight, cartilage preservation, inflammatory control, and immune strength. The big site is with the info panel at the side disease information it explains how the OFA radiograph works, how the disease works and is treated, what the hip grades mean etc. There is also a genetic database there and sample reports. Some peopl argue pennHIP is sufficient but breeders do not as a rule use it and disagree as did my orthopedic vet in TX.

    There is a whole separate bunch of stuff I found on diet and supplements by research hospitals that really isn't under the specialty of the OFA. If you are interested in further info for treatment. You could argue that since this isn't a breeding dog it could be done without sedation if you prefer.

    I don't feed dog foods with glucosamine because you'd have to feed to obesity to get enough and it's very expensive when added in tiny amounts to dog food because it is a marketing ploy. Bought as a supplement it's cheaper but not without some side effects in a few dogs. So if you don't need it I wouldn't feed it unless the vet suggested it for the impact level or history of the dog. I take it and my boy took it with no problems.

    A dog can have horrible OFA hips and be asymptomatic as a good rated hip can be painful. It's individual and controlled activity based, hence variable. That's why what you do knowing the hip status is crucial. There are several great drugs including Rimadyl and Deramaxx (NSAID's)--I tried adequan too and there are some other potent ones that work well for severe hips. So lots of options.

    Check out the OFA website and don't put it off. You can prevent and minimize some/most of the damage and pain if you know early. You may find out that you have nothing to worry about instead of ensuring that you will always worry if u don't know. We humans are funny that way. It's the things you can do something about that will bother you the most a wise older friend told me. And darn if she wasn't right. :dogbiggrin: So don't torture urself. :dognowink: Very understandable but sometimes we all need a little encouragement. Never has anything been nearly as bad as my imagination was able to conjure up. So feel encouraged I'm sending it via electrons.
  3. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Thanks a bunch Snooks, lots of good info.

    Weight is something I'm a stickler on for all of my dogs. During winter, Mud is a little on the chunky side because her metabolism craters I guess. Still lots of exercise, but just not her summer svelt self, lol! Otherwise though, all of the dogs are at weights as close to perfect for them as possible. Mud stays 29-32 pounds, Zeke is consistently around 50, Rusty 60ish, and Nick 4.5. Lol.

    Any ball park figure of what this will cost me? Just so I don't have a heart attack when I get the vet bill, lol. ^^ I can see it now... I'll give my vet a call tomorrow and stop in to talk to him if he's not busy.
    Thanks for the links, checking them out now. :)
  4. CollieMan Experienced Member

    I suspect you would already know the chief symptoms of dysplasia (and the resulting osteoarthritis) to be honest. They are walking with, what vets like to call, an altered gait. A resistance to movements which require extension or flexion of the back legs, and quite commonly, they develop a 'bunny hop' as they run. In my experience, they also begin to 'groan' when they have to get up and down; much in the same way as we would if we had the same condition.

    Dysplasia can begin to show in puppies as young as five months of age.

    I've had two dogs with dysplasia and you'd be surprised what difference treatment can make. Most treatments target the osteoarthritis as that is what actually causes the pain.
  5. snooks Experienced Member

    Without anesthesia it's less and the charge for x-ray films will be most of the cost. I would also go to an accredited OFA vet even though you don't plan to use the results for breeding. Since position of the dog during x-ray and getting a good quality film are most important part the exam the knowledge of the vet is important. Some places do exams for average $150 w/o anesthesia. Some may be more or less depending on where you live.

    Repeats are usually done or needed only if someone disagrees with the grade of the hip and usually would be a breeder that wanted to be able to breed with other pure good quality lines. Hence the need for good position and why most breeders anesthetize to optimize the minute clarity of detail. For pet dogs it's pretty clear if there is a good/fair hip or a bad hip. Despite the objective nature of the exam almost all radiograph interpretations fall within the same narrow range of results. They are pretty consistent in other words between doctors. We wouldn't quibble with the actual grade as a breeder might but take precautionary measures in lifestyle. You see why this is cheaper than surgery eh? :dogtongue2: About the cost of an annual exam so not too bad.

    You don't have to pay for OFA fees for registration etc since you won't be registering the dog online etc so it's less than a breeding dog registry of $40 or so. When you ask for a cost be sure to tell them this isn't for registration.

    It is good also to monitor and check hips periodically through manipulation and x-ray if ANY symptoms develop. A good hip at 4 could develop changes with age so getting a baseline now will be crucial in later evaluations of any problems. Films can be repeated or done if your dog is ever in for any other procedure like dental etc.

    The biggest issue is calcification of the surrounding tissue from chronic inflammation (arthritis) and break down of healthy cartilage. If you can keep both of these from progressing far your dog will have fewer problems. That's why anti-inflammatory drugs like Rimadyl help minimize the damage. The debilitating issues are results of the advanced wear on the dysplastic joint. A lean dog on a correct high quality diet might progress very differently if exercise is channeled correctly than the same dog on a high calorie low quality diet with lots of impacting exercise like running on the street every day for 5 miles with his owner. Running on natural surfaces like grass for things like herding, agility, and fetch is still as vigorous but less damaging.
  6. jackienmutts Honored Member

    Oh, sorry to hear about Mud. I went thru hip dysplasia with one of my GSDs 16 yrs ago, back when there wasn't much out there but aspirin - it was awful. So many helpful options now. One of my GSDs now is a rescue guy who was hit by a car prior to adoption. Both hips are bad, apparently he wasn't treated, and his hips were allowed to just heal as they were. They're horribly crooked, one is much higher than the other. He saw a top ortho vet in Los Angeles, and was told there was at best only a 50% chance surgery would help - he should just go home and 'be a dog'. I'm sure he'll have arthritis down the line, his xrays were unbelievable. He walked so funny when I got him, and had several 'down' days, in lots of pain. We saw the vet here where I live, as one day he couldn't get up at all, she said this may just be his life, recommended aspirin for now, then possibly Deramax, etc, if it didn't help. The rescue recommended a supplement I began immediately - nothing to lose - and he improved so much I couldn't believe it. He's had no more 'down' days since. He'll always be crooked, but he's 3 and doing really well. GSD rescue in L.A. recommends it for all their arthritic, dysplastic, etc, dogs. I'm not connected with the co. or anything, plz don't think that. Anyway, I can let you know the product if you'd be interested after you find out what's up. I know with Alf (and dysplastic dogs) they recommend no hard,pounding running (like on concrete) or jumping, and they do recommend sand walking and hill climbing - all good for muscle strenghtening.

    I know with my old Audi, I always just let him be my guide - whatever he could do, I let him do - until it got too progressed, then I knew when it was time to hold him back because being a dog (like a kid), sometimes he'd want to overdo, and I'd know he'd pay for it dearly later. Hard to explain to a dog sometimes ... enough ball, long enough walk, no more rough housing, etc., when they used to play so much longer.

    Hugs to Mud...
  7. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Thanks to all of you. Five months of age, ouch. Poor puppies. :(

    I've got to figure out a good time this week to schedule an appointment before I call my vet. We have two vets, a backup and our main vet(lol, and also a backup backup vet, and a backup for that case someone can't be contacted by office, cell, or!) I'll be calling both of our main ones.

    Mud and I actually never run on concrete or asphalt at all. All of our jogs are on dirt--and plowed dirt at that. Right next to my house is a farmer's field, and he lets me use the turnrows and unplanted land for whatever I want, so long as nothing is torn up and their isn't dog poo everywhere, lol. I can't run on asphalt or concrete anyway, as I broke my back years ago--just standing on hard surfaces for very long kills me. The hardest surface my dogs have seen is the parking lot on the way into somewhere or the tile in my kitchen, lol. Other than that, it's grass and dirt for us. I jog with all of the dogs daily, although with Mud now I'm much more leary--however, Jackie, I'm kind of like you. If she can do it, and wants to, I let her, but I try to pay close attention to her limits. Being a Border Collie, it's always me stopping her, and not the other way around. Natural workoholics, lol. :dogrolleyes: Jackie, could you give me the name of that supplement you recommended and any links you may have? I'd like to discuss it with my vet when I call him here in a sec. If I don't get it from you soon I'll just talk to him about it at her appointment. You're very sweet and thank you for your reply. :)

    Again, thanks to everyone. I'll be calling both vets in a second. I've got a doctor's appt myself soon and I work most of this week, so I'm going to have to figure out a good time to get her in. I'll update after I talk to the docs. Wish us luck!
  8. jackienmutts Honored Member

    You probably won't get this in time, as I logged off - had to go train and do housework - always furballs to capture :dogblush:

    The supplement we use is Jointstrong from Animal Naturals. ** Must do this a different way, just tried to post, am new don't have enuf posts to do a link. I get it at K9Power dotcom. Let's see if that 'flies'. Good price and great customer service!. Honestly, it's worked wonders. I was down at GSD rescue a few weeks ago, took mine for a visit, no one could believe how incredible Alfie looked, they all remembered the scrawny, skinny guy who walked really funny (when I adopted him, his back legs/feet actually crossed when he walked, and he almost couldn't run because he would trip himself - not a pretty sight). Up walked this muscle-y, strapping guy, who walks (almost) like a normal dog - if you really watch him walk, you can notice it's not quite right, but with crooked hips like his, it can't be avoided. But - my friend who's a volunteer there told me one of the other volunteers had tried just about everything available, has horrid arthritis, nothing was helping, was in constant pain, so she decided if it was good enuf for her dogs (and she's very picky about what she'll give them), she decided to try it. She said it's helped her tremendously and apparently has been using it daily now for herself also (and her dogs) for quite some time. The last time I ordered, I told John, the owner of K9 Power the story. He said he honestly hadn't heard of any human using it before, but there wasn't anything in it we couldn't have, all human grade ingredients, etc - so he was glad to hear it helped it. Pretty interesting. Makes you really question the pharmaceutical industry - but don't get me started. Hope this helps...
  9. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Thanks everyone.

    Of all the vets that I've spoken to, they seem to think it's arthritis...but regardless of what it is, they tell me just to put her on a good joint supplement, because that's the only thing they can do. My two main vets said that if she doesn't show any improvement within a month or two, then I need to make an appointment to get her checked out. My main vet has seen her hundreds of times and doesn't seem too worried, so perhaps it's nothing terrible? Regardless, I'd like to know exactly what the problem is, so she will be going in as soon as I can get her in. anyone?

    And thanks again for everyone's info, advice, and kindness. :) I love this site. ^^

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