How to Prevent Hip Dysplasia and Joint Disease in your Dog

What are Dog Joint Disorders?

Joint Disorders are the most common orthopedic conditions diagnosed in dogs, with canine hip dysplasia being the most common of these. Hip Dysplasia is a disease where the hip sock and the head of the femur are malformed and cause rubbing and grinding pain.  There are multiple causes that lead to the malformation in the hip, they can range from environmental to genetic. A dog can be born predisposed to this condition from the genetics that they get from their parents. They can also have environmental aspects of their life that lead to them developing this painful condition, such as obesity.  

Large breed dogs are more predisposed to joint deterioration and Hip Dysplasia. They can show signs very early in life or as they age. The most common breeds affected by this painful process are German Shepherd Dogs, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and giant breeds like Great Danes and Saint Bernards. In severe cases, the malformation of the hip can cause pain as early as 4 months old.  Most animals develop pain later in life as the deterioration of the joint leads to osteoarthritis, pain, and inflammation in the hip. 

Dog Hip Dysplasia
Dog Hip Dysplasia

What are the Sysptoms of Dog Joint Disorders?

Symptoms of joint disorders and hip dysplasia can vary depending on different factors that are individual to each dog.  They include: 

  • How loose of a connection there is between the hip joint and femur bone
  • How long has this process be causing issues for your dog
  • How much inflammation and boney changes in the hip joint

You may see different symptoms in your dog:

  • Bunny hopping
  • Reluctance to jump on the couch, in the car
  • Reluctance to climb stairs
  • Slow to Rise
  • Not wanting to get up and play
  • Narrowing of the distance between the back legs
  • Grinding of the joint
  • Crying in pain when rising or walking/running
  • Muscle loss in the back legs

Degenerative Myelopathy in Larger Breeds

Over the last 14 years, I have had the privilege to care for and treat over 30 canine police officers at my practice.  These amazing animals are true athletes.  They train multiple days a week and are on the road the rest of the time doing article searches, tracking lost people, tracking violent offenders and protecting their handlers and other officers.  These beautiful animals do this for nothing more than a bowl of food and their favorite toy.

These dogs train like Olympic athletes and endure a lifetime of wear and tear on their bodies that most people don’t realize.  Almost all of my canine officers are on NatrixOne for multiple reasons.  It helps muscle recovery, it is a great anti-inflammatory for those joints and ligaments, and it helps keep their coats thick and lust and decrease their risk of skin diseases.  I have all of my retired canines on NatrixOne to help with the pains that come with a life-time of service.  A lot of our canine officers are German Shepherd dogs and we also use the NatrixOne to decrease the chances they develop Degenerative Myelopathy, a debilitating neurological condition in GSDs.

I trust NatrixOne with these expensive and valuable members of society to keep them healthy and pain-free while helping the environment!

How are Joint Disorders diagnosed?

Most Dog Joint Disorders are discovered by owners and brought to the attention of the veterinarian.  The above symptoms are concerning to an owner at a young or older age and usually become more severe as the pet ages.  Most degenerative joint conditions can be suspected with just a simple physical exam. During the exam, the dog may be put through a range of motion test and the vet will move the hips around.  A definitive diagnosis requires an x-ray of the injured area. This process is sometimes very hard on an awake dog, especially if the pet is very painful. The veterinarian may recommend sedation to help the comfort level of your pet and to be able to get the appropriate view for the diagnosis.

Dog Hip Dysplasia

What are Treatment options for Dog Joint Disorders?

Depending on the level of pain, there are multiple modes of treatment for a dogs with joint disorders or Hip Dysplasia.  They can range from simple weight loss to long-term pain management, and in some cases surgical intervention.  In the last 20 years, Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) have become very prevalent and multiple medications are currently available and come in a variety of forms.  These medications can have side effects and should only be used under the direct supervision of a veterinarian.

Recently, supplements and all-natural options of all kinds have hit the canine market.  Some of those include Omega fatty acid products (such as the plant-based NatrixOne), glucosamine products, laser therapy treatments, and stem cell therapy.  Please contact your veterinarian to discuss the potential of a hip disorder in your dog and what they recommend for the treatment of Joint Disorders.

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About the Author

Rich Coleman
Dr. Rich Coleman grew up in Fairfield, Ohio and began his journey into veterinary medicine as a kennel attendant at the age of 15. He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Cincinnati before graduating from The Ohio State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 2002. Dr. Rich took over Plum Veterinary Clinic in December 2006, changed the name to Four Paws Animal Hospital in 2007, built a new facility in 2012 and began a remodel in March 2019 to allow for more growth and opportunities for our community. Dr. Rich Coleman is the Chief Veterinary Officer for NatrixOne™ and completed our 100 dog study in 2018. After seeing results firsthand, he joined the NatrixOne team!