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Effective Help for Canine Hip Dysplasia
Last review: 08/12/10  J.R. Rogers
What is Hip Dysplasia?

Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD) is a genetic, painful, crippling disease that causes a dog's hip to weaken, deteriorate, and become arthritic. It is a congenital condition and is the leading cause of lameness occurring in the rear legs of dogs. CHD is common in dogs, particularly in certain large and giant breeds, although smaller dogs can suffer from the condition as well. Hip dysplasia is usually a genetically transferred inherited trait. However, it can occur in dogs whose parents do not have Canine Hip Dysplasia.

The Signs of Canine Hip Dysplasia

  • Difficulty getting up from a lying or sitting position or in climbing stairs
  • Moving both rear legs together while walking
  • A painful reaction to extension of the rear legs
  • Dropping of pelvis after pushing on rump
  • A stilted gait or pelvic swing while walking
  • An aversion to touch
  • A change in behavior
  • Whining
  • Reluctance to walk, climb stairs, jump, or play
  • Lameness after strenuous exercise
  • Hunching of back to avoid extending the hips when standing.

It is very important to understand that the only way to accurately diagnose CHD is through x-rays. The above symptoms may also be seen in dogs with normal hips and affected dogs may display none of these symptoms at all.

Literally, hip dysplasia means "badly formed hip". In order to understand this complex problem, it is first necessary to understand the anatomy of the canine hip. This ball and socket joint consists of two basic parts: the acetabulum and the femur. The femur (or thigh bone) consists of the head (the ball) and the neck (the part of the femur that joins the long shaft of the bone to the head). The acetabulum forms the socket part of the joint and it is into this socket that the head of the femur rests.

In unaffected dogs there is a good fit between ball and socket. However, if ligaments fail to hold the round knob at the head of the thighbone in place in the hip socket, the result is a loose, unstable joint, in which the ball of the femur slides free of the hip socket. Swelling, fraying, and rupture of the round ligament follows. This laxity causes excessive wear on the cartilage in the hip joint, eventually resulting in arthritis.

Help for Hip Dysplasia

If you have a pet with hip dysplasia, there is hope. There are many products available. However, you must be careful which products you use. Many can actually do more harm than good for your pet.

Upon a visit to a veterinarian and a diagnosis of hip dysplasia, the first thing recommended is often painkillers such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). While these do reduce pain, they do nothing beneficial to your pet's actual disease. These pain relievers (while they do stop the pain) do not tend to the hip dysplasia or the arthritis itself. Furthermore, they have very severe side effects ranging from liver and kidney failure to gastrointestinal bleeding. In addition, new research done on NSAIDs has shown that they can actually slow cartilage repair and accelerate cartilage destruction.

In severe cases, a vet may recommend surgery for your pet. However, surgery is a very expensive and dramatic procedure, and your pet (while his or her pain may be reduced) will never be able to play and jump like they used to.

There is an alternative to these dangerous painkillers and surgery.

Recommended Supplements

More progressive veterinarians who are knowledgeable about recent studies, clinical trials, and overwhelmingly positive patient response, will know that glucosamine is a very promising supplement for hip dysplasia.

Glucosamine is an over-the-counter dietary supplement that has been shown to be beneficial in treatment of hip dysplasia, osteoarthritis, and joint pain in both pets and humans. Glucosamine stimulates the production of glycosaminoglycans (GAG's), important proteins found in cartilage and proteoglycans, the water holding molecules that make up the cartilage.

Used in the correct form and quality, glucosamine has been shown to not only ease pain, but also assists in rehabilitating damaged cartilage. Furthermore, glucosamine is safe to use and does not have any of the side effects associated with NSAIDs.

How To Select A Glucosamine Product

Glucosamine products differ greatly. While one may work wonders for your pet, another may do absolutely nothing. Your selection of a glucosamine product should be based on four factors.

You must consider the quality of glucosamine, method of delivery to body, additional ingredients in the product, and of course price.

Simply put, the higher quality of glucosamine you use, the greater the relief to your pet will be. Many companies use medium grade glucosamine so you must be careful to look for the highest quality. Pharmaceutical quality glucosamine is the highest quality of glucosamine. You should only consider products that use glucosamine which is pharmaceutical quality.

Secondly, the method of delivery can make the difference between no pain relief and complete pain relief. Most products produced after the breakthrough news of the 1999 Lancet medical journal glucosamine study were rushed to the market. In this haste, these companies did not take any time to do tests on their product. They simply assumed pill form would be the most effective. The latest research has shown that glucosamine in liquid form is much more effective. In selecting a glucosamine product, you should look for one that is liquid form.

Also crucial to the effectiveness of the product is the other ingredients that are included in the product. Glucosamine alone, for most people, is not a cure all. To receive complete relief, you need to look for products that combine a number of arthritis fighting ingredients. You should look for a product that besides glucosamine sulfate and glucosamine HCL, also contains arthritis-fighting ingredients such as chondroitin, boswellin, bromelain, omega 3 & 6, yucca, manganese ascorbate, and vitamins A, C, and E.

J.R. Rogers is the founder and President of Activex America, Inc. makers of Liquid Glucosamine Formula Syn-flex®