Vail pets: Hip problems common in dogs | VailDaily.com
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Vail pets: Hip problems common in dogs

Nadine Lober
Vail, CO Colorado

The degeneration of the hips is called hip dysplasia and it is one of the most common skeletal diseases that dogs suffer in the Vail Valley and beyond.

Hip dysplasia occurs in the joint where the femur , or large thigh bone, attaches to the pelvis. It is a ball-and-socket joint and in hip dysplasia, this joint degenerates, and eventually, the head of the femur slips out of the pelvis.

Dogs can be genetically predisposed to hip dysplasia but can also develop the disease after years of wear and tear on the joint. Breeds that are most commonly affected are German shepherds, Labradors, goldens, rottweilers and St. Bernards. It is so important to thoroughly check the blood lines of the breed of dog you are considering to avoid a dog that might have a predisposition to hip dysplasia. Nowadays, many breeds are inbred and therefore the defects within that blood line only get more pronounced.



Hip dysplasia can begin in dogs as early as four months old or can develop later with degenerative joint disease. Signs of hip dysplasia include decreased activity, difficulty rising, reluctance to jump or climb stairs, some hind leg lameness, bunny hopping, swaying gait and narrow stance in the hind legs.

The best way to diagnose hip dysplasia is to X-ray the hips. Usually, the dog needs to be under anesthesia to get an accurate X-ray.



Treatment depends on the dog’s size and age, and how severe the disease is. Treatment can be conservative or aggressive and may include surgeries such as hip replacement.

The medications used are anti-inflammatories to minimize joint pain and stiffness, and analgesics. Glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM supplements are very beneficial. Glucosamines are used in any joint diseases to help rebuild cartilage and strengthen the bond between the cartilage cells. Ester-C is gaining in popularity to help arthritic conditions.

Ester-C is gaining in popularity to help arthritic conditions and mild exercise is a must to keep the joints moving.



One of the most efficient treatments with no side effects is acupuncture. It helps in many different ways by decreasing inflammation and alleviating pain. Acupuncture also helps to slow down the degenerative disease process.

Steroids should be avoided because they can cause damage after long-term use.

Watch your dog carefully, if he is having any of the symptoms mentioned above it may be more serious then you think. They have trouble sometimes telling us about their pain and sometimes we overlook how they might be feeling.

Veterinarian Dr. Nadine Lober can be reached at 970-949-7972


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