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The painful truth about hip dysplasia

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Hip dysplasia is a painful disease where the ball and socket joint of the hip doesn't properly align. If your dog has hip dysplasia, here are some helpful tips to make them more comfortable and protect their sore joints.

What are the signs of hip dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia can occur at any age, but the more severe the condition, the earlier signs develop. In less severe cases, symptoms may not appear until middle age or later. Untreated, the condition worsens until even daily activities are painful.

Your vet will confirm the diagnosis with an x-ray, but some of the warning signs include:

  • A change in the way the dog walks or runs (e.g. ‘bunny hopping’)
  • Pain/stiffness in the rear legs in the morning/after exercise
  • Difficulty getting up, climbing stairs
  • Limping or reluctance to exercise
  • Decreased range of hip motion

Breeds predisposed to hip dysplasia

Larger breeds – like German Shepherds, Labradors, Golden Retrievers and Rottweilers – are more prone to hip dysplasia, although it also occurs in medium-sized dogs and rarely in small dogs. There’s a genetic aspect to hip dysplasia (it can be passed from affected dogs to their offspring), but the dog’s environment when young also plays a role. Hip testing can also be done on breeding dogs so if you are buying a puppy you should inquire as to the puppy’s parents hip scores.

Watch that weight

Over-feeding puppies between 3–10 months increases the risk of developing hip dysplasia in dogs already prone to the disease, because carrying excess weight puts extra strain on the hips. At any age, being overweight increases the risk of arthritis, so keep your dog at a healthy weight to reduce joint strain.

Go easy on exercise

Too much exercise in young dogs prone to hip dysplasia is another risk factor, but some exercise may be protective. Moderate exercise – like brisk walking or swimming – helps strengthen hip muscles, whereas high impact activities (e.g. jumping to catch a ball) should be avoided in susceptible dogs. Regular, short, daily exercise is better than longer, infrequent sessions.

Pamper painful hips

Provide a comfortable supportive bed that is easy to get on and off. Cold weather makes arthritis worse, so keep your pet warm during cooler months. Your vet can show you massage techniques to relax your dog’s stiff muscles and keep joints mobile. Your dog might also need a ramp to avoid stairs or jumping into your car.

To treat or to operate?

Vet-prescribed anti-inflammatory drugs and pain-relieving medicines can make your pet more comfortable, and special injections can help protect damaged cartilage. Surgery is also an option – depending on your dog’s age, size and severity of disease – so speak to your vet about what’s right for your pet.

Supplements that support sore joints

Supplementing your pet’s diet with ‘nutraceuticals’ is also useful to boost levels of natural substances – like glucosamine, chondroitin and essential fatty acids – which are vital for healthy cartilage.

For healthy dogs prone to hip dysplasia or with early signs of arthritis, try PAW Osteocare Joint Health Chews – a tasty daily chews with glucosamine and chondroitin to help nourish, protect and rebuild cartilage.

If your dog is older or missing teeth, PAW Cosequin® DS provides concentrated glucosamine and chondroitin to help support joints, given either as a capsule or sprinkled onto meals.

Or for dogs with more advanced hip dysplasia and arthritis, use PAW OsteAdvanced clinical joint chews which are ideal for pets with moderate to severe arthritis. These chews form part of a multi-modal treatment plan (including healthy lifestyle, immediate pain relief and surgical intervention where needed).

They contain Glucosamine and chondroitin, which help nourish and support the joint cartilage, in conjunction with a combination of natural anti-inflammatory ingredients, such as green-lipped mussel (GLM), curcumin and boswellia to reduce the severity of the associated pain.

They feature:
  • A unique combination of Green lipped mussel, Curcumin & Boswellia to provide triple action anti-inflammatory support to help relieve arthritic symptoms in dogs
  • Glucosamine & Chondroitin to support healthy joint cartilage
  • High quality, natural ingredients supported by scientific evidence
  • No artificial colours or flavours