As a degenerative disease, hip dysplasia in dogs gets progressively worse with time, which is why it is so critical to start treating it as soon as possible. While there is no single answer to dog hip pain, early treatment can make a huge difference in a dog’s well-being.
Starting treatment in the later stages of the disease can result in long-lasting and life altering consequences. An untreated dog with hip problems could end up not being able to run ever again. What dog would want to be cooped up in one place all day long?
The symptoms of hip dysplasia in dogs fortunately can be well attended to, for the most part. Some cases of hip pain can very nearly disappear—as far as the dog can tell—with the proper treatment. Here are a collection of different stages of hip dysplasia treatments for dogs, in order of least to most invasive:
Weight Management: Eating and Exercising Right
1. Healthy eating
Proper nutrition may be the most fundamental way to combat hip dysplasia in dogs. It is a basic necessity and happens multiple times every day. And there are a variety of ways to provide dogs with healthy food.
The dietary aim in feeding dogs with hip dysplasia is basically the standard, well-balanced healthy diet. Dogs are omnivores that favor a high protein intake. Providing them with a small amount of a mixture of fruits and vegetables to accompany their meat centric meal is usually a safe bet.
Reducing total caloric intake and fat content is important when taking into account the finding that obesity is a major risk factor for hip dysplasia in dogs. Fewer carbohydrates and grains can help lower calories consumed on a daily basis without worrying too much missing out on nutritional value.
Lowering fat content can make a massive impact on improving cardio and relieving excess weight pressure on joints. Certain dairy products, fats, and sugars are also known to increase inflammation, which is horrible for joints.
Instead of feeding dogs such fatty foods, owners might want to look into low fat dog foods (if set on giving dry food) as well as fruits and vegetables high in vitamins and minerals. Many vibrant colored fruits and vegetables, like blueberries, apples, and kale, can help protect joints by reducing inflammation and even fighting oxidative stress.
2. Proper exercise
Regular exercise can be a fun way to delay the onset of hip dysplasia and improve joint conditions in general. Joint-safe exercises tend to take place on soft and grip-friendly surfaces so that dogs can move freely without worrying about overextending limbs or damaging joints. Outdoor parks and fields are ideal workout areas for dogs with sensitive joints.
Too little exercise can lead to weight gain and general morbidity. Too much exercise can wear out joints, especially when performed on slippery or unstable floors. Special care needs to be taken by dogs when exercising with hip problems. Anaerobic exercises, like stair climbing and jumping, are particularly likely to harm joints.
Supplements and Medicinal Drugs
3. Organic Supplements
As the name suggests, supplements are meant to accompany a healthy diet. Organic supplements can provide dogs with the necessary amount of vitamins and minerals they need to maintain healthy joints. More than just that, certain supplements can also boost joint health by providing ingredients that common diets might not have enough of.
Supplements providing extra bits of cartilage have been shown to improve joint health by stimulating cellular growth and joint lubrication. Bone broth, prepared by boiling bones and cartilage in hot water, offer a natural supply of ingredients that promote joint health.
Chondroitin sulphate, proanthocyanidins, superoxide dismutase, and glycosaminoglycans are just some of the many compounds that have been reported to nourish joints. These are some of the most successive alternative supplements. They seem to focus specifically on improving bone and joint health.
A number of natural supplements and herbs, such as yucca, garlic, turmeric, comfrey, alfalfa, and primrose oil, may help fight against oxidation, which damages joints. The omega-3 fatty acids present in fish oil can also help with arthritic symptoms. These supplements can go a long way to reducing dog hip pain and irritation.
4. Medical Drugs
There is a long list of drugs that purportedly benefit joint health, most of which are NSAIDS that are intended to reduce pain and inflammation. Buffered aspirin is the most commonly prescribed NSAID for canine hip dysplasia. NSAIDS are infamous for causing gastrointestinal problems, and therefore often need to be taken with an intestinal protectant, such as liquid aloe vera.
Glucosamine, the major sugar component in glycosaminoglycans, plays a fundamental role in joint cartilage synthesis and formation. Chondroitin enhances the production of glycosaminoglycans and shields joints against the damaging effects of some enzymes. When taken as medicine, both of these compounds may facilitate cartilage repair, although whether or not they actually increase cartilage content is still up for debate.
Polysulfated glycosaminoglycan, popularized as Adequan, is a way to give high amounts of cartilage-boosting ingredients via injection. It is most typically given as a series of shots over several weeks. Many dogs seem to dislike the process, and the expensiveness of the treatment could deter owners for electing this option.
Later stages of canine hip dysplasia can completely destroy bones and joints, requiring pretty drastic intervention. Several surgical treatments are available and chosen based on the degree of joint degeneration.
6. Triple pelvic osteotomy
Triple pelvic osteotomy, or TPO for short, is a procedure most frequently designated for puppies younger than 10 months who have severe looseness of the hip seen in radio imaging but do not yet have severe damage to the joints. In this surgery, the pelvic bones are broken, after which the ball and socket of the hip joint are realigned. The surgery has a very high success rate but is very costly.
7. Pectineal Myectomy
A controversial surgery for cases of chronic hip dysplasia is known as pectineal myectomy. The pectineus—a muscle attaching the thigh bone to the hip—is cut and then removed in order to reduce tension on the joint. Lowering joint tension relieves a considerable amount of hip pain in dogs but does not stop the disease from getting worse. This surgery can lead to a lot of possible complications and is rarely performed.
8. Femoral head and neck excision
In femoral head and neck excision, the head of the thigh bone is removed to allow a pseudo-joint to form in its place. The new hip joint removes pain but decreases range of motion and joint stability a lot. The surgery is only used when hip dysplasia has destroyed the hip joint and hip replacement is not a viable option.
9. Total hip replacement
Late stage hip dysplasia in dogs is said to be best treated by total hip replacement. As evident its name, the procedure involves the complete removal of a joint, which is then replaced with a prosthetic one. In this way, a degenerating joint can be switched out for a functionally healthy one with no more joint pain.
The surgery is only acceptable for mature dogs that weigh at least 35 pounds. A three-month resting period is recommended post surgery. And both hip joints can be replaced this way. The procedure has shown excellent results but is extremely expensive.
Vol. 6: How to Turn Your Home Into a Safe Place for a Dog With Hip Dysplasia
Vol. 8: How Much do Supplements Help With Hip Dysplasia in Dogs?