Hip Dysplasia in Dogs
Hip dysplasia is the most common cause of rear leg lameness in dogs. The highest incidence occurs in large-breed dogs, including St. Bernards, Newfoundlands, Rottweilers, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherd Dogs, Labrador Retrievers, and many others. Smaller breeds are also affected, but are less likely to show symptoms.
Another factor that can bring on the symptoms of hip dysplasia is inappropriate exercise during the period of rapid bone growth. Young dogs should be discouraged from jumping up and down from heights in situations where they land on their back legs (such as jumping up to catch a ball), and from standing up on their back legs (which dogs do when they stand up against a fence or window to get a better view). They should also avoid running on pavement.
Feeding a very high-calorie diet to growing dogs can exacerbate a predisposition to hip dysplasia, because the rapid weight gain places increased stress on the hips. Being overweight supports the genetic potential for hip dysplasia, as well as other skeletal diseases. A diet with an imbalance of calcium and phosphorous is bad for bone development.
The signs and symptoms of hip dysplasia is nearly impossible to detect with Golden puppies, although it will start to show once the pup has reached the age of nine months. Even though you may take your Golden to the vet to have him looked at, your vet will tell you that you need to wait to see if the symptoms are there, once the Golden Retriever has reached a certain age.
The symptoms and signs of hip dysplasia vary, although the most common include crippling or the inability to walk properly. This disease can get better once the dog gets older though, due to the joints stabilizing, the inflammation going down, and the muscles in the hips getting stronger and more mature. Keep in mind however, that Golden’s who have hip dysplasia when they are younger will more than likely develop arthritis when they get older
An X-ray of the hips and pelvis is the only reliable way of determining whether a dog has hip dysplasia.Good X-rays require heavy sedation or anesthesia. The standard view is taken with the dog lying on his back with his rear legs parallel and extended. The knees (stifles) are rotated internally. Care is taken to be sure the pelvis is not tilted.
Golden Retriever’s who have this disease won’t know it – which is why you should help as much as possible. If you do your part and help your dog seek relief – he will feel better than ever before – although he won’t let you know he hurt any at all.