Canine hip dysplasia is a common genetic condition causing pain and lameness in affected dogs. The disease is characterized by instability of the hip joint that usually affects both hips. This disease leads to a progressive osteoarthritis, which can be managed using pain medications, exercise/weight loss or surgery.
Common names: Hip dysplasia
Scientific names: Hip dysplasia, Coxofemoral malformation and degeneration, Bilateral congenital subluxation.
Hip dysplasia (CHD) can affect any breed but is most common in large- and giant-breed dogs. Dogs that are genetically predisposed to CHD are born with normal hips and develop joint laxity (looseness) after two months of age and arthritis in the hips after four months of age.
Despite the availability of hip-dysplasia breeder-control programs, the prevalence of CHD remains high, between 10 and 48 percent). Breeds with the highest incidence of CHD include German shepherds, rottweilers and Labrador/golden retrievers. Breeds with some of the lowest incidence of CHD include greyhounds, Afghan hounds and Irish wolfhounds.
There is no known geographic distribution for canine hip dysplasia.
Clinical signs (primary, most to least frequent, scientific term, synonyms)
Pain, Lameness (limping), Difficulty rising, Difficulty walking stairs, Bunny-hopping gait (walk), Muscle atrophy/loss of muscle mass (hips/rear legs).
Causes (scientific, common term)
Hip laxity, Genetic predisposition, Environmental factors.
Organ systems affected (most to least affected)
Orthopedic examination, Radiographs.
Cruciate ligament tear, Trauma, Patella luxation (kneecap), Fractures, Spinal disease, Tick-borne disease.
Canine hip dysplasia (CHD), which is a malformation or degeneration of the coxofemoral or hip joints, is a common hereditary condition typically affecting large- and giant-breed dogs. Despite the availability of CHD breeder-control programs, the prevalence of CHD remains high, reaching between 10 and 48 percent.
Breeds with the highest incidence of CHD include German shepherds, rottweilers and Labrador/golden retrievers. Breeds with some of the lowest incidence of CHD include greyhounds, Afghan hounds, and Irish wolfhounds. The onset of clinical signs can begin as early as a few months of age to as late as 10-12 years of age.
The most common clinical signs observed include pain, stiffness, lameness, difficulty rising, difficulty with stairs, and loss of muscle mass in the hips and rear legs. The role of environment, particularly growth rate, has been shown to have a direct correlation with expression of CHD, hip arthritis, and arthritis in other joints.
Abundant food consumption shortens the time to first appearance and increases the severity of CHD. Overweight dogs and dogs that are not neutered or spayed may have an increased incidence and severity of this condition.
Good nutrition and an exercise program are two essentials for preventing the progression of CHD. Obesity will significantly increase the stress on joints and speed joint degeneration. Veterinary prescription diets are available both for the rapidly growing and adult large-breed dog designed to reduce the impact of CHD. Breeding of dogs with CHD is discouraged.
Orthopedic examination and pelvic radiographs (X-rays) are the primary means for diagnosing CHD. Once diagnosed, the veterinarian can develop a treatment plan specific to the affected pet. This generally begins with medical management, including anti-inflammatory medications to relieve pain and inflammation, as well as joint nutritional supplements, which may include polysulfated glycosaminoglycans, glucosamine, and chondroitin sulfate, which may promote joint health, weight loss (if indicated) and exercise.
When medical management is no longer providing pain relief and acceptable mobility, surgery may be considered. Surgical techniques, often conducted by a veterinary surgical specialist, include triple pelvic osteotomy, juvenile pubic symphysiodesis, total hip replacement, excision arthroplasty and others.
Diagnosis and treatment recommendations require veterinary care. Most dogs with CHD can be managed with medications, weight control and an appropriate level of exercise. The goals of medical therapy are to alleviate clinical signs of pain, improve function, restore quality of life, and, if possible, slow the progression of the disease.
Most dogs with CHD can be managed medically; however, if medical management fails, surgical intervention is needed. There is no medical or surgical cure for patients with CHD. Pets with CHD require lifelong care.
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Karen L. Cherrone, DVM, DACVS
Steven Hansen, DVM, MS, MBA DABVT, DABT
Copyright 2007. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)