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Hip Dysplasia: Is Your Pet Suffering?
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 and cats can suffer from the condition as well. Hip dysplasia it is usually a genetically transferred or 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.

The Treatments for Hip Dysplasia

If you have a pet with hip dysplasia, there is hope. There are many treatments. However, you must be careful which treatments you use. Many treatments 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 non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. While these do reduce pain, they do nothing to assist with the underlying disease. 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, however.

Recommended Treatments

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

Glucosamine is an over-the-counter dietary supplement that has been shown to be effective in dealing with 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 help pain, but also rehabilitate damaged cartilage. Furthermore, glucosamine is safe to use and does not have the side effects associated with NSAIDs.

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