What is it?
• The hip joint is made up of the ball of the thigh bone and the socket on the side of the pelvis.
• They are primarily held together by a ligament and a capsule that surrounds the joint.
• When the ligament and joint capsule are too loose and the ball doesn’t rest right in the socket, hip dysplasia occurs.
What causes it?
• Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD) develops when the dog is a puppy when the socket does not form correctly.
• The present looseness leads to joint capsule stretching and thus inflammation.
• Eventually, scar tissue builds up and degenerative joint disease develops.
• It typically develops in both hips but can only affect one.
• CHD most commonly occurs in larger dogs, but it can be present in smaller dogs, and rarely cats.
• It is caused by multiple factors including genetics, nutrition, and amount of activity.
• Signs typical of osteoarthritis will be present - such as pain or lameness which usually worsens over time.
What tests are needed?
• Orthopedic examination will determine the level of pain and loss of mobility.
• X-rays may be necessary to more closely evaluate the hip joint for appropriate treatment.
How is it treated?
• Mildly affected older dogs may benefit from medical therapy alone.
• Very young dogs can have what is known as a juvenile pubic symphysiodesis (JPS) which uses heat to shape the joint cartilage.
• If the dog is still growing and x-ray findings are appropriate, a triple pelvic osteotomy may be performed to achieve similar results to the JPS procedure.
• If the dog is fully mature and doesn’t respond to physical therapy, a femoral head ostectomy or total hip arthroplasty may be considered.
What follow up care is needed?
• Follow-up exams and repeating testing are necessary to track the progression of the condition.
• Generally, exercise restriction in animals who have recovered from surgery is unnecessary.
• Dog’s going through medical therapy should be periodically evaluated.