Dysplasia in dogs

What is joint dysplasia?

Dog dysplasia is where there is an issue with the formation of joints, such as socket joints, and the bones cause damage to the bones due to friction from rubbing, causing inflammation and weakening. It’s particularly common in the hips. It becomes a cycle, as cartilage becomes damaged whilst building up slowly to protect the wound, leaving the joint more and more vulnerable to damage from the friction. This problem is compounded when other issues such as osteoarthritis can form.

What are the symptoms?

Signs of stiffness, limping, pain while moving or standing and keeping the back legs close together are all hints towards dysplasia. Depending on the severity of the problem, signs may not appear for some time before any clues are given. Pain recognition is not a definite sign of dysplasia, however, as it could be a sign toward any number of other problems so it’s crucial to go to your vet if you have any concerns about your dogs movements or comfort.

What causes joint dysplasia?

A dog with hereditary dysplasia has been born with the issue, often living with the pain and becoming used to it over time, with the problem almost always appearing before the dog is 18 months old. It is most common in the larger breeds, such as the German shepherds, Newfoundland’s, Labradors, Rottweiler’s and Mastiffs, but also in smaller breeds such as Spaniels and Pugs.

How is it diagnosed?

Dysplasia can be observed and diagnosed through x-rays and hip scoring tests. Once it has been diagnosed, however, there is no current permanent treatment; medical help is merely preventative and based on improving the living standards of the animal, dependant on the severity of the issue and the nature of the problem.

How is it treated and managed

Non-surgical help includes weight control to alleviate the pressure on the joints, exercise control to keep the dog healthy and maintain muscle mass which is an important factor in reducing pain and stress on the hips, and medication, such as anti-inflammatories and painkillers. Surgical intervention is undertaken with severe problems, and generally involves the replacement of bones in and around the joints to reduce friction and create ease-of-use for the hips.

To reduce the pain caused by joint dysplasia, there are a number of accompaniments available for purchase, such as pressure reducing beds, ramps and steps designed with softer materials to help dogs get up and down from cars or porches etc. These items can help improve the standards of life for dogs that are unfortunately suffering from this debilitating problem, and you should consider them if your pet is suffering.

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