5 Things You Should Know about Hip Dysplasia

5 Things You Should Know about Hip Dysplasia
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Hip dysplasia usually isnโ€™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 isnโ€™t caught until pets have been walking on poorly formed hips for years. That means that by the time you recognize thereโ€™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 doesnโ€™t mean, though, that you are powerless to help a cat or dog who is genetically predisposed to develop hip dysplasia. Itโ€™s actually possible for a pet to inherit the condition but have no symptoms. Thatโ€™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. Itโ€™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 petโ€™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 Donโ€™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.

Legg-Perthes Disease In Dogs And Cats

Legg-Perthes disease is a hip joint disease that can occur in both dogs and cats. It involves disintegration of the head of the femur, which is the ball of the hip joint. When the femoral head disintegrates due to a loss of blood supply, it results in disfigurement of the hip joint as well as bone and joint inflammation (arthritis). This can be extremely painful for a pet, but fortunately, the prognosis after treatment is usually very good.

Legg-Perthes disease also goes by some other names: Perthes disease, Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease, Leggโ€™s disease, coxa plana, and aseptic or avascular necrosis of the femoral head.

Causes of Legg-Perthes Disease in Dogs and Cats

The causes of Legg-Perthes disease are not well understood. There is likely a strong genetic component because the disease tends to show up in young, small breed, or miniature breed dogs -- especially terriers. It can also occur in cats, and may become apparent after an injury or trauma to the leg or hip.

Disintegration of the femoral head occurs when blood supply to the area is interrupted. An interruption in blood supply -- also known as โ€œischemiaโ€ -- causes the bone and surrounding cartilage to disintegrate and die. When this happens, the area around the affected hip joint becomes irritated and inflamed. Eventually, the hip becomes disfigured and collapses, and is no longer able to carry weight.

Legg-Perthes disease can appear in both hip joints simultaneously or only in one.

Symptoms of Legg-Perthes Disease in Dogs and Cats

The initial symptoms of Legg-Perthes disease often appear in pets less than one year old. As the disease progresses, so too will the symptoms, and they typically include:

  • Progressive hind leg lameness
  • Limping
  • Pain when moving affected limb(s)
  • Irritability
  • Muscle disintegration on affected limb(s)
  • Difficulty rising, sitting, jumping, and running
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Chewing or licking the affected limb(s)
  • โ€œClickingโ€ sound from affected limb(s)

Diagnosing Legg-Perthes Disease in Dogs and Cats

The symptoms of Legg-Perthes disease can mimic those of many other conditions, including hip dysplasiaarthritis, and injury or fracture. Your veterinarian will need to rule out these conditions and diagnose Legg-Perthes disease through a physical examination, a discussion of symptoms, and testing. Testing may include complete blood work, urinalysis, and x-rays. X-rays help your veterinarian to diagnose Legg-Perthes disease by revealing problems such as a widening of the area between the femoral head and the pelvic socket, bone fragmentation, irregular femoral structure, and abnormal bone density.

Treatment for Legg-Perthes Disease in Dogs and Cats

Some pets with mild or early forms of the disease may respond well to a combination of bed rest, physical therapy, pain-relief medications, corticosteroids, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAIDS).

In most cases, however, surgery will be necessary. The procedure of choice is a femoral head and neck ostectomy, which involves removal of the femoral head and neck. This allows for the formation of a โ€œfalse jointโ€ made up of fibrous tissues, granulation tissues, and scar tissues. These tissues essentially replace the ball-and-socket joint of the hip.

In the rare case of a large dog with Legg-Perthes disease, a total hip replacement may be necessary. This is an expensive and complicated procedure that involves removing the entire damaged joint and replacing it with an artificial femoral head and hip joint socket.

With both procedures, post-operative care is extremely important, and you should follow your veterinarianโ€™s instructions about bandaging, cold compresses, and activity restriction. Most pets will also require physical therapy following surgery, and diet should be carefully monitored to avoid obesity, which can put stress on the joints.

In addition to the above treatment options, there are some less traditional treatments that have proven to be beneficial in some pets with Legg-Perthes disease. They include:

The prognosis for pets treated surgically is very good if the pet receives appropriate postoperative care and rehabilitation. After recovery, most pets return to their normal selves and are able to run, jump, and play.

More on Joint  Health

Joint Health Products For Pets With Arthritis
8 Ways To Treat Joint Dog Pain
Nutrition For Arthritic Dogs And Cats

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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