by Sojos | January 22, 2013
Hereditary health problems can affect purebred dogs as well as mixed breed dogs –whether your pup comes from a pedigree of champions or the shelter, genes don’t discriminate. Hip dysplasia is just one of those hereditary conditions, and it can have a dramatic effect on your dog’s mobility, health and happiness. It develops because of poorly formed hip joints – think of it as a ball-and-socket joint, in which the ball is loose in the socket. That looseness causes difficulty in moving, and can lead to degeneration and a significant amount of pain.
Hip dysplasia can start to develop even in puppies, but it will generally worsen as a dog ages, regardless of when symptoms start to show. You might notice your dog moving stiffly when trying to get up from sitting or lying down, limping or hopping as he moves or has weakness in his rear limbs. Muscles in the hind legs can atrophy as the disease progresses.
Though there’s no defined cure for hip dysplasia, there are steps you can take as a concerned pet owner to help your dog live more comfortably with the condition.
* Lifestyle: We know that it’s important for every dog to have a healthy lifestyle, but it’s even more critical for dogs with hip dysplasia. As a puppy – even if you’re not aware of hip dysplasia in your pet – make exercise and weight maintenance two of your priorities. If your dog does develop dysplasia, excess weight can aggravate the condition. Low-stress exercise like swimming is good for dogs that develop dysplasia.
* Diet: Many people who own dogs with hip dysplasia report seeing marked improvements when they switch to raw dog food diets. It’s thought that the protein and natural glucosamine in raw diets, which is more bio-available therefore easier for dogs’ systems to absorb, can help build muscle when it is degenerating because of the dysplasia. Plus, the overall improved nutritional benefits dogs get from raw food makes it easier for the rest of their bodies to stay healthy. It’s also often easier for dogs on raw diets to maintain healthy weights.
* Supplements: Vitamins and herbs are popular options to help ease the symptoms of hip dysplasia. For instance, vitamin E assists with circulation and fighting cell-degenerating free radicals; glucosamine is important for cartilage production; and chondroitin fights enzymes that degrade cartilage. Because every dog has unique needs, it’s best to consult with a holistic vet about which supplements are right for your dog, and what dosages are appropriate.
* Massage and acupuncture: Acupuncture, an integral part of Chinese medicine, can help enormously with pain relief, but it’s also thought to be good for hip dysplasia in other ways. Acupuncture is known to reduce swelling and increase blood supply to the areas of the ailing joints. Massage therapy is another popular holistic treatment that can reduce pain and might also help strengthen the immune system and have overall health benefits. Both acupuncture and massage therapy should be done by trained professionals specializing in the therapy – your holistic vet may be able to provide services or recommend practitioners.