The abnormal development of the hip socket is known as hip dysplasia. It starts with alterations in locomotion, such as a reluctance to go on walks, lameness and pain. As time goes by, the symptoms are accompanied by an important degeneration of the joint. It is one of the most frequent orthopaedic problems in veterinary practice. When it occurs the two parts of the joint, the socket and the femur head, do not fit together properly.
This condition affects mostly large breeds, generally with a family history of the disease, and individuals which have not been fed properly when young and have grown rapidly and disproportionately. Saint Bernards, English Setters, Rottweilers, Bobtails or German Shepherds have a larger incidence of this ailment.
Although it appears frequently and so seems to be a well-known problem, it is still a condition that is difficult to control. There have been important advances in diagnosis, prevention and treatment, but its origin is still unclear. Among the possible causes are maternal or paternal inheritance, rapid growth, muscular alterations, bone deformity, nutrition excesses and vitamin deficiency.
Everything is complicated in this illness: we still do not know if animals are born with a problematic and unstable hip or if their hip is “damaged” due to the factors mentioned above.
If you suspect that your pet may have a hip problem, you should take it to your usual veterinary practice. For a correct diagnosis, a radiological examination that includes the complete pelvis, both femurs and both knees should be performed. If the diagnosis is confirmed, your veterinary surgeon will propose either medical treatment, surgery or a combination of both therapies.
The most important thing is to think that your friend’s therapy will be individualized. Not every case of hip dysplasia is the same and, therefore, it will not have the same treatment.
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Colegio Oficial de Veterinarios de Alicante
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