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32–35 Weeks: What to Expect From Your Puppy

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A Guide to Puppy Hip Dysplasia and Treatments

When you think about canine Hip Dysplasia, you probably picture an old dog struggling to get up the stairs. Hip Dysplasia does progress as a dog gets older so it's more likely to be obvious then but did you know you can see signs of it as young as 33 weeks?

Most of us assume this Dysplasia only occurs in large dogs. Though they are more likely to have it, medium-size and smaller breeds can be affected, too. Some of the main breeds that develop it are the Great Pyrenees, Great Dane, German Shepherd, and Akita. Some of the smaller breeds in which it shows up sometimes are the Dachshund and the American Bull Dog. It is primarily a purebred disease though it can show up in mixed breeds.

Many pups will show signs of Hip Dysplasia early on but you have to know what to look for. The signs include lameness, difficulty walking after getting up, a bunny-hop walk, or a loss of interest in activity. You may also see psychological signs such as apathy and loss of appetite. It is easy for your vet to check for Hip Dysplasia if you're concerned. She will likely take X-Rays and use the standards developed by the Orthopedic Foundations for Animals to determine if there is Dysplasia. Radiographs offer even more clarity. If you find out your pup has Hip Dysplasia there are several treatment options.

  • Surgery: Because your puppy is still a puppy, surgery is not as dangerous as it can be for older dogs. Your vet may want to do surgical reconstruction of the hip joint (triple pelvic osteotomy). If the Dysplasia is severe, a complete hip replacement may be suggested. When done in young dogs, this is very successful.

  • Medications: Many of the medications used to treat older dogs with Hip Dysplasia are not considered viable for puppies. Pain killers such as Rimadyl have a high side effect profile which is worse in puppies. However, administration of glycosaminoglycans (Adequan Rx) by your vet is a consideration. Also, buffered baby aspirin is a good choice for an anti-inflammatory for your puppy.

  • Diet: In a control study, Labrador puppies fed 25% less than the control group had less incidence of Hip Dysplasia. This supports the thought that any extra weight aggravates the condition.

  • Supplements: Glucosamine and Chondroitin can be given to a puppy but have not been shown to be as effective as in older dogs. Omega-3 Fatty Acids can be helpful, as well as SAMe.

  • Exercise: Consistent low-impact exercise is essential in slowing the progression of Hip Dysplasia. Walk with your dog daily and keep him active by playing with him as well.

  • Massage and Physical Therapy: Just like humans with a torn ACL, puppies can benefit from physical therapy for their Dysplasia. Your vet can show you how to perform physical therapy and massages on your pup.

Hip Dysplasia is genetic and, therefore, can not be prevented. It also cannot be completely cured. But, the sooner you treat it, the less invasive it will be. In addition to medical solutions, you can do things at home which will help slow its progression, such as provide an orthopedic bed for your pup, use ramps to get into a car or up the stairs, and teach your pup not to jump.

And remember, your dog is not self-conscious about their wobbly gait or even that backend harness you may have to use later in his life to help him get up the stairs. Help him manage any pain associated with the Dysplasia and look into your options for treatment. Caught early, Hip Dysplasia can be a very minor setback in his life.

Advice from Other Dog Owners 

How to Keep Your Puppy Off the Christmas Tree

Puppies should be supervised at all times. She or he should be crated while alone, leashed while you are around. Time to teach the "leave it" command. You will really mean it when you fear for the dogs safety! Baby gates might deter him - unless he's that curious kind that looks to defeat all confinement. If he's leashed it's easy to give a sharp leash correction if he goes near the tree. Put the tree up for a few days without trimming to get the dog used to it without risking fragile ornaments.

~Liz H., owner of German Shepherd mix

When Puppies Lose Their Teeth

Puppies have a full set of 28 milk teeth - 4 canines, 12 incisors and 12 molars. The incisors and canines grow in first, the molars last. At around three to four months of age, your dog is going to start losing milk teeth and growing in her adult set of teeth, which consists of a total of 42 teeth - a lot more than the puppy teeth she has. The first to fall out are going to be her incisors, her front teeth. She will start growing her adult incisors first. Around four to five months of age you will see her adult molars and canines to grow in. By about six months, she should have her full set of adult teeth.

~Chris & Brian C., owner of German Shepherd

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