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5 Things You Should Know about Hip Dysplasia

By Maureen Ryan. September 03, 2012 | See Comments

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5 Things You Should Know about Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia usually isn’t caught until years after the first symptoms begin. Learn the top 5 facts about hip dysplasia here and help protect your pet.

Often, hip dysplasia isn’t caught until pets have been walking on poorly formed hips for years. That means that by the time you recognize there’s a problem, serious, irreversible damage has been done and your cat or dog is now more likely to develop more severe complications, including possible lameness and degenerative arthritis. You may be able to provide better care and reduce painful symptoms in a pet with the condition by understanding these five basic facts:

1. There Is Strong a Genetic Link to Hip Dysplasia

Most pets with the condition inherit it. That doesn’t mean, though, that you are powerless to help a cat or dog who is genetically predisposed to develop hip dysplasia. It’s actually possible for a pet to inherit the condition but have no symptoms. That’s because, in addition to genetics, other factors impact whether or not cats and dogs will have hip pain that progresses to osteoarthritis. These influences include over feeding a pet, giving your pet an excessive supplement of certain nutrients, and letting a pet regularly engage in exercises that may damage the hip joints.

2. Large Breeds Have a Higher Risk of Hip Dysplasia

The Maine Coon cat is one example of a large cat that is at risk for hip dysplasia. Saint Bernards, Newfoundlands, Rottweilers, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, and other large and giant breed dogs are most likely to develop the condition. Smaller pets do still contract hip dysplasia, but these animals may actually have no obvious symptoms or pain from the disorder.

3. Weight Loss Is the First, Most Beneficial, Step to Take

Symptoms of hip dysplasia, including limping and pain, are likely to be more severe in pets that are carrying excess body weight; these extra pounds put more strain on the joints and accelerate wear and tear. It’s important, though, to help your pet maintain a healthy weight before hip dysplasia develops. Specifically, avoid overfeeding puppies and kittens because it can cause muscles and bones to grow at different rates, which might contribute to hip dysplasia.

4.Nontraditional Therapies Can Offer Some Relief

Heat applied to the hips is a simple way to help relieve some of your pet’s discomfort, but there are other treatment options you can try as well that might appeal to owners who want to avoid surgery and medication. These include: professional or at-home massage, acupuncture or acupressure administered by a licensed practitioner, and giving glucosamine or chondroitin supplements to promote the rebuilding of cartilage.

5. Surgery Is an Extreme Option for Pets That Don’t Respond to Other Treatments

Surgery for hip dysplasia is a serious procedure that carries the usual risk of invasive treatments. When necessary, your veterinarian may recommend removing the femoral head (the ball part of the ball-in-socket hip joint). This procedure is usually most effective in pets weighing less than 60 pounds. For larger dogs, a total hip replacement may be needed. The diseased joint is replaced by a plastic socket and stainless steel ball cemented into place. Both procedures offer good chances for pets to regain mobility while alleviating their pain.

This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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