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admin | Leg Hip Pain | 07.11.2014
Adopting Emmett was a difficult commitment after the loss of Connor, our Scottish Terrier companion of 13 years. Canine Hip Dysplasia is a condition that begins in young dogs as instability of the hip joint.
The causes of Canine Hip Dysplasia are considered to be multifactorial, including both hereditary and environmental factors. Our experience with Emmett’s poor genetic foundation prompted many hours of research.
The American Veterinary Medical Association’s (AVMA) American Board of Veterinary Specialties (ABVS) is the umbrella organization for veterinary specialties in the United States. Whenever your pet is showing signs of a health issue your first step is to contact your primary care veterinarian. Symptoms of canine hip dysplasia are commonly noted between the ages of five to eight months, with some dogs being over a year.  Warning signs of hip dysplasia may include an awkward gait, waddling of the hind quarters when walking, stiffness when first getting up from a nap, a clicking sound heard from the hind end, lameness in one or both hind limbs, exercise intolerance, or pain upon petting the hip region. The diagnosis of hip dysplasia is based on history, physical examination, and radiographic evaluation. Patients affected with dog hip dysplasia at a very young age may benefit from early surgical intervention, but most patients don’t present with hip lameness issues until they are much older.
Most patients with hip dysplasia or hip arthritis can be managed through non-surgical means to lead normal, active lives. Just because hip dysplasia is evident on x-rays, doesn’t mean that the hip joints are a source of pain. The first step in selecting an appropriate treatment for hip arthritis is ensuring you have an accurate diagnosis.
There is poor correlation between the severity of hip dysplasia changes evident on x-ray, and the amount of hip joint discomfort the patient is experiencing. This issue is further complicated by the fact that few structures work in isolation – most dogs with hip arthritis have concurrent secondary issues such as sacroiliac pain. Dog hip arthritis generally does not cause sudden, sharp pain, and is usually responsive to non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs).
Hip dysplasia is a genetic disorder with multiple contributing factors, including overfeeding, and over or under exercising puppies. These imperfections in joint formation causes instability and places increased strain on the supporting soft tissue, which eventually leads to some degree of arthritis and joint pain.
This condition tends to effect smaller dogs, especially toy breeds and terriers in their 1st 13 months of life. Young dogs, generally 4 to 8 months of age, who have severely dysplastic hips but have not yet developed arthritis may benefit from corrective procedures such as the Triple Pelvic Osteotomy (TPO). An important component of success for this procedure is careful patient selection – if the hip joint is already arthritic or suffering from cartilage erosion, the procedure will not be successful. There are two main options for older dogs with severe hip arthritis, whether secondary to hip dysplasia or some other cause. THRs should especially be considered in larger dogs, or dogs where the owner desires strong athletic performance post-operatively. An FHO involves converting the hip joint to a “false” joint; in much the same way that your shoulder blade is attached to your ribs purely through muscular support, the same is done to the hip joint by removing the head of the femur. Very athletic, competition or working dogs are better suited for a THR if the owner is able to afford the procedure. Although rehabilitation therapy is important for all orthopaedic procedures, it is especially important for this one and should be considered as important as the surgery itself.
Conservative treatment of hip pain or hip arthritis is very effective, and in most patients it provides enough comfort to eliminate the need for surgery.

Manual therapy– massage, stretching, mobilizations, breaking down of fascial adhesions etc. He came at just the right time to fill the void and consume all of our displaced doting emotions. Connor joined our family when the kids were still in elementary school, so he was raised right along with them for the majority of their childhoods. If we had known that our brand new hardwood floors were contributing significantly to Emmett’s deterioration, we would have put down the thousand scatter rugs much earlier.
We opted for the state-of-the-art total hip replacement to afford Emmett the best quality of life for the longest amount of time. Any breed can develop this condition; however, large breeds are the most commonly affected.
If it is indicated that your pet may suffer from Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD) or another serious condition, a veterinary specialist is available at an ExpertVet certified hospital. In the normal dog, the head of the femur, the "ball" portion, sits tightly into the acetabulum of the pelvis, the "socket" portion.
A typical symptom history may include any or all of the following: difficulty or stiffness upon rising, using front legs only and dragging rear, "bunny hopping" gait, short stride in rear legs, reluctance to exercise or climb stairs, rear limb lameness, soreness in hips, and waddling gait.
Please use newer version of your browser or visit Internet Explorer 6 countdown page for more information. The surgical options for older animals are considered “end stage” or “salvage” procedures, only to be considered in patients who have tried all non-surgical options and are still experiencing pain. Lumbosacral, sacroiliac, muscular, tendon or ligamentous issues are common sources of pain in the hip region, are commonly found in dogs with dysplastic hips, and respond well to directed treatment. There is a real tendency to presume all pelvic origin lameness originates from the hip joint itself, when in many cases it does not. If your dog exhibits signs such as sudden yelping or squealing, or if you found that prescription NSAIDs only help the pain a little, then the problem is probably not simple arthritis.
The TPO procedure isolates a piece of pelvis that includes the hip joint and rotates it so that the shallow socket provides more coverage.
Both procedures are considered “end stage” or “salvage” procedures, meaning that they are only to be performed on patients who have tried all the non-surgical options and are still experiencing a level of discomfort that prevents them from leading a normal life. It involves replacing the arthritic hip joint with an artificial implant, just as is done in people.Although it provides excellent results, it is an expensive procedure.
Lane travels between multiple facilities in south western BC performing orthopedic surgeries and lameness examinations. Connor was such a big part of our lives that when he died, I was so grief stricken and selfish, I couldn’t bear the thought of loving and losing again. Cartilage wear leads to bone spurs and joint thickening which results in osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease.
Mild repeated traumas, like slipping a little here and slipping a little there on the slick hardwood floors, hastened the symptoms and severity of his disease. The health conditions common to most breeds are caused by long-term inbreeding practices or poor genetic foundations. Dogs suspected of having canine hip dysplasia should be seen by a board-certified surgeon as soon as possible. In dogs with hip dysplasia, there is a developmental abnormality with this ball and socket joint; the dog develops loose and abnormally shaped hip joints as it grows.
The clinical signs commonly begin between five to eight months of age or after skeletal maturity. As the dog matures, the affected joints develop bone spurs, a sign that the hips are degenerating.

Lower back pain presents much the same way hip arthritis does, and is frequently overlooked as a potential cause. An accurate diagnosis can only be made after careful examination of the hip joints in isolation, the lumbosacral, interlumbar, and sacroiliac joints, as well as all associated muscles, tendons and ligaments of the lower back and upper hind limb. Lane only recommends this procedure in patients who are severely disabled at a very young age.
Performing this procedure before advanced muscle atrophy and scarring has occurred greatly improves the outcome. After nine months of heartache, I realized it wasn’t just about what Connor gave to me, but also about what I gave to Connor.
It is one of the most common skeletal diseases seen by veterinarians although the actual incidence of canine hip dysplasia is unknown. This abnormality is known as incongruency between the shape and function of the femoral head and the acetabulum.
The standard radiographic position is with the dog lying on its back with both rear legs pulled straight back and parallel to each other.
Recently, the PennHIP program has emerged as a new scientific method for the early diagnosis of CHD. Rapid weight gain and growth from too many calories as a wee puppy create irreversible joint stress. Over the next three years, Emmett had TPLO surgery on both knees, water treadmill therapy at Texas A&M andacupuncture therapy to give him some relief.
Hip dysplasia is a disorder of the hip that begins with joint laxity and progresses to arthritis over a period of several months to years. The angle of the top of the acetabulum may not be level, allowing the femoral head to slide in and out as the dog walks; damage to the cartilage and joint lining occurs with every step.
Most dogs with CHD are too painful to tolerate this position awake, so sedation or anesthesia is usually necessary. Irritability, chewing at the hip and hip pain progressing to complete carrying of the limb are common signs. In cases where this is not possible, or when these conditions affect cats and smaller dogs, an FHO or THR (see below) may be the best option. While there is a genetic component to canine hip dysplasia, many other factors influence its development, including the body type, size, growth rate, and nutrition of the dog. The end result is progressive abnormal development of the acetabulum and extreme pain for the dog. This variability is due to the individual severity of the disease as well as pain tolerance of the dog. Proper radiographic positioning is very important to accurately evaluate the hips and to determine the best treatment plan. PennHIP is more reliable than standard x-ray images and has the advantage of being accurate on puppies as young as 16 weeks of age. Overfeeding, in particular, dietary supplementation for maximum growth has been shown to increase the incidence of hip dysplasia in young, growing, large breed dogs.

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