What is HELP FIDO?

Humane Education Leads to Progress
For Informed Dog Owners

Vision Statement: We envision a society free from discrimination, where responsibility, education, love and compassion allow humans to fully respect and understand man's best friend.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Canine Hip Dysplasia

Having been faced with the possibility that one of my beloved dogs (Maggie - left) may be afflicted with Canine Hip Dysplasia (or CHD) I felt compelled to make it my first topic. CHD is commonly believed to have a genetic predisposition, though environmental factors can certainly complicate the disease, such as obesity and trauma. This disease is not present at birth but developes as the dog ages. It is, in basic terms, the abnormal development of the hip. In moderate and severe cases flattening of the femoral head developes as well as thickening of the femoral necks. This process is called Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD). Lameness, pain and osteoarthritis become apparent as the disease progress, and in some cases can become debilitating to the dog and heartbreaking for the owner. Signs can appear as early as 4-12 months of age, for dogs severely affected, and can include pain, limping, “bunny hopping” when the dog runs, clicking sound when the dog walks, runs or when the hip is manipulated as well as loss of muscle mass (atrophy). Refusal to go up and down stairs can also be a sign the average dog owner may notice.

Modern science has developed two different methods for responsible breeders to screen for the disease. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals and PennHip are the two common in the United States at this time. OFA grades the hip's conformation giving rates beginning with Excellent and continuing through Severe. For OFA certification X-rays evaluated must be from dogs at least 24 months of age but they will evaluate and release preliminary results for those under 24 months of age. Dogs are X-rayed once, preferably under anesthesia, for a V/D view of the Pelvis with the legs fully extended in a parallel position. PennHip on the other hand takes a more "scientific" approach by measuring the laxity of the hips and giving breeders actual numbers to work with. Three X-rays are taken for PennHip evaluation with views of the hips compressed and distracted, as well as the view used for OFA. There is no pass or fail with the PennHip Method, as its measurements allow the breeder to make their own educated decision about whether or not to breed said dog.

I can't express how important these simple screening processes can be. It is extremely difficult to watch when your 4 month old puppy hobbles around for 2 weeks from a jump that another dog would have just brushed off. To look at her now at 12 months of age and wonder if she will be crippled in just a few short years . . . unable to run, jump and play with her housemates, to enjoy simply being a dog . . .

I highly encourage any dog owner to read up on the CHD in depth as it affects many purebred breeds of dog as well as those of the mix breed variety. Many aren’t aware of how prevalent CHD has become in the American Staffordshire Terrier and its counterpart, the American Pit Bull Terrier, with 25% of the evaluated population affected with the disease. Ranking them in the top 25 affected breeds with OFA.

If you feel your dog or puppy may be affected with CHD, consult your veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment options available in your area. Common supplements used to ease the pain and increase mobility in the joints include Glucosamine/Chondroitin, and Vitamin C. Often prescription NSAIDS (non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs) are required in more severe cases to help control pain and inflammation associated with the disease.

In young dogs TPO (triple pelvic osteotomy ) surgery may be recommended. In this procedure the pelvis is cut in 3 spots and is rotated to provide better coverage of the femoral head to prevent further DJD. Dogs are usually preferred to be under 12 months of age with minimal arthritic changes to be candidates for this surgery. Dogs with chronic DJD may be recommended for total hip replacement among several different surgical options currently available.

If you would find your pup or dog is affected they may enjoy the benefits of a “doggy ramp” as it puts less stress on the joints when they join you on the couch and bed. Orthopedic grade pet beds are available and can provide much needed comfort to aching joints. I try to keep my own dog at a healthy lean weight as well to try to lessen the work load she puts on her hips. She also has a daily exercise routine we try to keep up on to be sure she maintains her muscle tone in her legs and lower back, but always consult with your vet before you begin a regimen yourself to be sure it is appropriate for your pooch. You may find your dog also enjoys a nice doggie massage to relax aching muscles at the end of the day - I know mine does!

No comments:

These are the dogs of HELP FIDO...our dogs...this is why we are here...