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Dogs and hip dysplasia

A fairly common degenerative disease in dogs, canine hip dysplasia, is
often misunderstood. Many mistakenly think that the ailment is a form
of arthritis, but that is simply not the case. Often, dogs that suffer
from hip dysplasia will develop arthritis, but this condition is a
result of hip dysplasia and not the disease itself.

The condition is most common in mid to large size dogs that grow
rapidly and can be a source of severe pain and limited mobility for the
animal. Even when detected early, there is no “cure” for hip dysplasia;
it must be treated with medication to reduce the amount of pain that
the dog suffers or be corrected as much as possible with surgery.

Hip Dysplasia Explained

Hip dysplasia is essentially an abnormal formation of the hip joint.
This formation causes looseness in the joint that causes an array of
problems for the dog. The most common results of hip dysplasia include
pain and lack of mobility. Dogs that are severely affected can not move
their hindquarters at all. There are many degrees of dysplasia; they
range from only the slightest abnormalities in the connection of the
joint to complete dislocation of the femur from the hip socket.

Causes Hip Dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia is primarily caused by genetics. If one or both parent
animals carry a genetic trait for hip dysplasia, it will be passed on
to their offspring. Genetic conditions and their likelihood of being
passed on are measured in terms of “heritability factoring.” Something
that is determined completely by genetics, like eye color or gender, is
considered to have a heritability factor of 1, indicating that the
condition is 100% genetic. A condition that has absolutely nothing to
do with genetics, like a sprained ankle, has a heritability factor of 0.

Scientists have determined that hip dysplasia carries a heritability
factor between .25 and .85, meaning that there is a 25% to 85% chance
that the condition is genetic in origin. While injuries to a young pup
– incurred before or after birth – can cause the condition, almost all
hip dysplasia is passed on genetically.

How is Hip Dysplasia Treated?

As stated earlier, there is no “cure” for hip dysplasia. Medication can
be given to control the pain and reduce inflammation of the joint, but
the only way to treat the condition on any permanent basis is through
surgery. The best way to combat hip dysplasia is through selective
breeding. If the either of the potential parent animals show traits of
hip dysplasia, they should not be bred and should be spayed or neutered
to ensure they do not pass on the trait.

All breeding dogs should be X-Rayed at a young age to check for signs
of the condition. Many times a dog that appears perfectly healthy and
has no signs of the condition can actually have hip dysplasia.

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