How to Help Your Dog With Hip Dysplasia
You had noticed Max was a little slower to get up than usual, so you took him to your veterinarian, who diagnosed him with Hip Dysplasia, despite being only two years old!
So, what does all that mean? Hip Dysplasia in dogs is a genetic disease and is more common in larger breeds, like Max – the Great Dane – but is found in dogs of all sizes. There are a thousand questions buzzing in your head because Max is a beloved part of the family and you need to know exactly what to expect, how you can help him, and what to do to make sure he is comfortable.
Your vet may prescribe dietary supplements for Max to be sprinkled over his food. These supplements contain essential fatty acids – often oily fish derivatives – that slow down the progression of the condition. He may also prescribe a special diet, scientifically formulated for dogs with this condition. Other useful dietary supplements available are Glucosamine, Calcium, Vitamin C, and additional iron in the diet.
Exercise remains an important part of your dog’s life, despite his condition, but you may have to look at alternative forms of exercise to prevent further inflammation and degeneration. Given that high-impact exercise will aggravate the problem, swimming is a wonderful form of exercise for dogs with Hip Dysplasia. It involves minimal impact while working almost every muscle in the body.
Added to that, the water offers resistance, so your pet will benefit enormously from regular swims. If he was not much of a “water baby” before, you might have to jump in with him to encourage him. You can play fetch in the water, too, using a floating ring or ball that you throw for him to retrieve.
This will be great fun for him while ensuring he gets plenty of exercise. He is still allowed to go for short walks, too, provided your veterinarian approves it. The walks will need to be shorter and slower than before, though, and he may take time to get used to it.
Watch His Weight
Excess weight is a big no-no for dogs with hip dysplasia, as it places enormous pressure on the already compromised joints. As his human caregiver, his weight is entirely your responsibility. You choose what he eats, how much he eats and when he eats it. Follow the directions on the package closely.
No matter how much he pleads with his eyes, do not give him treats that will cause him to gain weight. Keeping his kilojoule count down while ensuring he gets sufficient exercise will keep him at a healthy weight and prevent accelerated degeneration of his hips.
Make sure your visitors (Grandmas are often the culprits) and your children are aware that Max is on a special eating plan and that treats are strictly forbidden. “Human” treats, such as chocolate, are exceptionally bad for any dog, but the acidity level in it makes it far more harmful for a dog with Hip Dysplasia.
Keep an Eye on His Day-to-Day Movement
Once you are aware of his condition, you can keep an eye on his ease of movement every day. If you notice a deterioration in his range of movement or that he develops a limp, take him back to the veterinarian immediately for a follow-up visit.
The condition is linked to arthritis from the bones chafing one another and this may lead to increased pain and inflammation, which may call for additional medication. Daily monitoring of your pet’s movement and noting any changes is a very important part of ensuring that they are not suffering.
This would usually be a last resort, but there are a few surgical options available to you and your dog. Sometimes the vet will “break” the bones and realign them, rotating the ball to allow it to fit correctly into the socket.
Another option is to remove the ball entirely and replace it with a prosthetic ball, which will correct the problems caused by mismatched components of the joint. This is known as a partial hip replacement. The most drastic and expensive option is a total hip replacement, which is similar to the procedure performed on humans.
The ball (head of the femur) is removed and replaced with a prosthetic one, and the socket is also replaced with a prosthesis, making the entire hip joint prosthetic. The surgery and the wound itself will be painful, but once your furry friend recovers from that pain, he should be able to live the rest of his life free of the chronic pain caused by the grinding together of mismatched bones.
If you had pet insurance before the condition was diagnosed, this would be covered. However, if you took out the insurance only after the condition was diagnosed, there is a good chance it will be excluded.
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