Pain in the Bark: Hip and Joint Issues Explained

Mr. Zuki- DePoops- (RIP)

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Barked: Fri Oct 10, '08 6:02pm PST 
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Pain in the Bark: Hip and Joint Issues Explained
by Stephen Seifert

Healthy and lighthearted dogs make our eyes scintillate and hearts melt. Dog owners nurture their dogs as a part of the family, as a friend that loves unconditionally, and as a partner in life’s voyage. The importance of the love we give our dogs starts with health and our willingness to prevent our best friend’s from injury. It is surprising, the number of dog owners which have little or no knowledge of their dog’s susceptibility to joint problems.

One of the most prevalent is Chronic Hip Dysplasia or CHD, a malformation or looseness in the hip joints which can lead to Degenerative Joint Disease or DJD. Like the human body, dogs’ bodies are susceptible to sore joints and arthritis in similar ways. As a dog lover these questions are all important to ask, as Hip Dysplasia may be the cause.

* Is your dog slow to get up?
* Does your dog limp after activity?
* Does your dog exhibit pain in the hind legs?
* Hesitation in running or jumping?

The breed of dog may also play a large role in the susceptibility for developing Hip Dysplasia. For example, German Shepherds, Saint Bernards, Rottweilers, Golden Retrievers, and many other large-breed dogs have at least a 50% chance of developing Hip Dysplasia. This is mostly contributed to their accelerated growth rate and is often accompanied with overfeeding. Joints become unstable as the skeletal growth of the dog surpasses that of the joints, muscles, and connective tissues.

Extremely active dogs, for example Frisbee dogs like Border Collies, are at high risk for developing CHD as well. The twisting and pounding of the joints that the dog experiences during extensive activities can loosen the connective tissue and muscle which surrounds the joints. Our beloved, furry companions have a 20% chance of developing Hip Dysplasia and it often develops within the dog’s growth period.

As dog lovers, we gain great joy from our dog’s playful nature during the puppy years; however it is important to limit a puppy’s activeness in order to provide a healthy growing environment. Jumping off beds or couches, standing for long periods on their hind legs, pouncing on foreign and strange obstacles, and slippery hard wood floors can all contribute to improper growth.

Although speculated, there is no factual connection within genetic makeup between purebred dogs developing Hip Dysplasia over mixed breeds, as well as mixed breeds over purebreds. There is also no discernable relation between one dog’s signs and symptoms concerning CHD than another. A dog may develop clear discomfort and other dogs may not.

To investigate your dog’s injury further, an x-ray is in order to see whether or not the ball and socket joint is fitting snug, matching the acetabulum, and not showing signs of any looseness. If CHD is prevalent, there are several types of treatment. Some include, weight control, shorter activity time, limiting stressful activities, drug therapy, and surgery. Physical therapy is also a valuable tool in CHD recovery. The American Kennel Association also can provide a hip rating, which can give a dog’s owner insight into the dog’s family tree and genealogy.

Just like children growing strong and developing properly, it is important for puppies to do so during their fragile stages of growth. The health of a puppy may directly intersect the following years as a strong, healthy, and mature dog. It is essential for dog owners and lovers to give our companions the proper tools and knowledge to encompass success. Dog owners must equip themselves with the proper knowledge in order to do so for a long, loving relationship with their dog.

Prevention is always the key, especially when the development of injury in their dog is 50% or in some cases higher depending on the breed. Prevention can begin with a simple process of weight control. Whether it is a new puppy or a mature dog with developed Hip Dysplasia, weight control is a landmark in fighting against joint problems as well as other medical conditions. Utilizing the proper food portions combined with food that contains the essential nutrients is a perfect recipe to dietary management.

Proper exercise is also a key ingredient to weight control, however, be vigilant about over stressing a dog’s performance ability. Dogs need exercise for a healthy body as well as a healthy mind. Do not over exert your dog when performing an activity, especially during the fragile growth stages. Puppies will always be excited and their curiosity can make them do the most bizarre and courageous endeavors, however, it is the puppy’s parent that needs to limit the brave leaps from household furniture.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications can also bring relief to your dog if Chronic Hip Dysplasia has already developed. These medications are prescribed exclusively by a veterinarian and may have side effects. Dietary supplements can also be used to help reduce inflammation, pain, and act as a lubrication on the joints, maximizing mobility. Glucosamine and chondroitin have been effective for joint mobility in pets and is often utilized as an alternative to medications.

A healthy and exhilarated dog is something every dog owner and lover strives for and it is the knowledge we attain that can greatly contribute to our dog’s health. In order to provide a safe and healthy environment, ascertain a plan with guidance from a veterinarian to gain the tools needed to nurture your dog with not only love, but proper health. Doing so can give you and your dog a lifetime of beautiful memories and joy.