Hip dysplasia (HD) is one of the more common causes of joint pain in dogs. It is usually associated with larger breed dogs such as Mastiffs and German Shepherd dogs, but is also surprisingly common in smaller dogs including Bulldogs, pugs and spaniels.
Hip dysplasia means that the hip socket is poorly formed and does not make a tight smooth fit with the head of the femur (thigh bone). It may be that the socket is too shallow, or an irregular shape, making the joint unstable. This can lead to abnormal wear and tear to the cartilage lining the joint and the hip not supporting the dog adequately. Despite the cartilage attempting to repair itself, a cycle of inflammation, pain and further damage sets in. The dog can suffer anything from mild pain to crippling disability. In order to reduce the pain the dog will attempt to move the joint less, or move both back legs together resulting in a bunny hop, especially when climbing stairs. Dogs suffering pain may also find it difficult to get up from sitting or lying down, suffer stiffness which is worse after exercise, or find it painful to be touched in the hip area.
If your dog is diagnosed with HD, your first responsibility is to ensure he is not overweight as weight control will decrease pressure on the joint and reduce inflammation. Therapies such as acupuncture, massage and hydrotherapy can bring relief from pain, reduce inflammation and preserve muscle strength to support the joint.
Nutritional supplements can have a profound effect on a dysplasic or arthritic dogs. Some of the most effective ones are Glucosamine, Chondroitin and Turmeric. Yumove is a supplement made by Lintbells containing Glucosamine, Chondroitin and Green lipped mussel extract. Many dog owners have seen a new lease of life from their elderly, arthritic dogs after using these tablets. An alternative is Seraquin, which again contains Glucosamine and Chondroitin, but also curcumin which is extracted from the spice Turmeric. Curcumin has been found to be an effective antiinflammatory arthritis treatment for humans as well as animals. Turmeric is a bit of a super-food as it is a natural antiseptic, reduces cholesterol and combats parasites such as roundworm. You can simply add the powder to food – about 1/8 to a 1/4 teaspoon per day, for every 10lbs of dog weight. If your dog doesn’t fancy that, mix it into some peanut butter.
Your vet will be able to help with diagnosis and a treatment plan. It is most likely that non-steroidal antiinflammatories such as Metacam can reduce pain to preserve your dog’s quality of life but it is possible that surgery may help. Whichever course you choose, give it enough time to work. Cartilage does not have a blood supply and repairs very slowly. Allow at least 6 weeks before deciding whether the therapy you have chosen is the right one for your creaky canine pal.