What is Hip Dysplasia?
Hip dysplasia is an abnormal growth or development of a dog’s hip joint. This is a condition that typically affects large breed dogs and occurs when a puppy is developing. The canine hip joint is considered a ball and socket joint consisting of the head of the femur (the ball) and the acetabulum of the pelvis (the socket) which fit tightly together to form a stable joint. The surfaces of the bones of the femur and pelvis are covered in smooth cartilage which allows the joint to glide smoothly and move without pain.
In a pet with hip dysplasia, the ball and socket do not fit together tightly. This results in slipping and abnormal movement within the joint resulting in instability. In an effort to correct the instability within the hip joint, the body will develop bony changes which results in arthritis.
While any breed of dog has the potential to be affected by hip dysplasia, large breed dogs such as Great Danes, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Rottweilers, Mastiffs, St. Bernards and Bulldogs are more commonly affected.
How Can Canine Physical Rehab Help Canine Hip Dysplasia ?
A comprehensive approach to hip dysplasia in dogs is necessary to best relieve your pet's pain and help restore and maintain their mobility. While there is not a cure for hip dysplasia, a physical rehabilitation treatment plan can help improve your pet's overall quality of life.
Pain Relief = Reduced Dependency on Mediations
Pain medications work great and should be used if a pet is in pain. However, many owners are hesitant to utilize pain medications long term due to the potential side effects. A comprehensive physical rehabilitation program combines various tools which may help reduce or eliminate the need for pain medication. Therapies which help with pain management include:
Acupuncture utilizes needles placed in strategic areas on the body to help relieve hip pain and release tight muscles. This is non-invasive and pet's do not have to be sedated for this treatment.
Laser therapy uses different wavelengths of light energy to help increase circulation to help relieve pain and promote healing. It can also help to reduce secondary muscle spasms.
Massage therapy utilizes different techniques to help promote circulation, relieve muscle spasms, reduce pain and restore mobility. Most pets love this part of their physical rehabilitation program!
Improved Strength = Longer Walks and More Cuddles on the Couch
A unique exercise program is designed specifically for your pet to help build strength and improve their mobility.
Underwater Treadmill Therapy:
The underwater treadmill utilizes warm water to provide relief to sore muscles and improve circulation. The water also provides resistance for low impact strengthening.
Home Exercise Programs:
Your pet will get the most from their rehabilitation program when you are an active participant at home. Our therapists will demonstrate and provide a home exercise program to help build on the strengthening exercises we focus on in the clinic.
How To Know If Your Dog Has Hip Dysplasia?
Typically dogs with chronic pain from hip dysplasia will not cry or whine in pain. Discomfort is shown in other ways which typically involves changes to your pet’s behavior or activity level. Hip dysplasia symptoms may include:
You may have noticed that your pet seems to hesitate just a bit before jumping up on the couch, or maybe they’ve stopped joining you in bed at night because they can no longer make the jump into the bed.
Trouble With Stairs
Dogs use their hindlimbs to help generate the power to up the stairs. When dogs are in pain, they may hesitate or stumble up the stairs. Dogs with pain in their hips will often shift a lot of their weight onto their front legs which can result in them feeling unbalanced and experiencing difficulty or hesitation going down the stairs as well.
You may have noticed that your dog can’t walk as far as they used to. Perhaps they used to go to the dog park and play for an hour but now they lay down after a few minutes of play.
New Aggression Or Changes To Their Behavior
Nobody feels their best when they are in pain, including dogs. If your dog has been a well mannered, friendly dog their entire life, but suddenly develops reactivity to other dogs or aggressive behavior towards humans, this could be a sign that they are in pain.
Limping is always a sign of pain in dogs. Limping associated with hip dysplasia may occur at different times. Some dogs will limp after activity, some may limp after they have been laying down for an extended period of time, while others may experience consistent limping.
Changes To Their Gait Or Posture
When dogs experience pain in their back legs, they will often change their posture and gait in an attempt to take some of the pressure off of their hindlimbs. Sometimes pets will arch their back, hold their rear legs camped under their body or have a pronounced sway in their hind end when they walk.
Confirming A Diagnosis Of Hip Dysplasia
A visit to your pet’s primary care veterinarian can help to confirm a diagnosis of hip dysplasia and help rule out other painful conditions. A thorough physical exam may reveal decreased range of motion in the hips, muscle atrophy and hip pain. An x-ray will confirm the presence of hip dysplasia and determine if arthritis is present.
Schedule Your Pet's Consultation Today!
At Healing Tails Chicago Pet Rehabilitation and Acupuncture we understand that every patient and family has unique needs and goals to achieve. During the initial consultation we spend time discussing all of the concerns you have for your pet. After assessing your pet during the physical exam, we will advise you on the best steps to help support your pet. Our team is led by our expert veterinarian who has over a decade of experience caring for patients with hip dysplasia. She will formulate a plan for both home care and in clinic care which may include massage, exercise, acupuncture, laser therapy and/or underwater treadmill. Caring for a pet recovering with mobility limitations can be stressful. We have helped countless pets and pet parents and will be by your side every step of the way!