Hip dysplasia is a common condition of large breed dogs and is genetic in origin and occurs during the puppy growing phase. Hip dysplasia effectively means there is a poor fit between the ball and the socket of the hip. The "ball" (head of the thigh bone or femur) fits into a "socket" (acetabulum) formed by the pelvis.
What does hip dysplasia mean to your puppy?
Signs of hip dysplasia most commonly occur in older dogs but in severe cases will affect young dogs even less than one year of age. Although the loose fit of the hip will be present when young, it may take years for the other changes (such as osteoarthritis) to cause pain and weakness.
How is hip dysplasia diagnosed?
Hip dysplasia may be suspected from physical examination but examination under a general anaesthetic is required for proper diagnosis. Checking the hips for the degree of looseness (Ortolani sign) is the first step then xrays are taken with the dog specially positioned. The diagnosis and degree of hip dysplasia is made from the xrays.
How can hip dysplasia be managed in younger dogs?
Although there is no cure for hip dysplasia there are now a number of ways to manage the problem especially if it is picked up in puppies.
Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis (JPS)
JPS is a procedure which enables puppies to have much improved hips with a very minor surgery. The cartilage connecting the 2 sides of the pelvis is fused and this in turn results in rotation of the hip sockets into a more normal position giving a much sounder fit of the femoral head (ball) into the acetabulum (socket). Best results are achieved if the operation is done before 20 weeks (18 weeks is best). Since this is a good age for desexing the two procedures can be combined with one anaesthetic and recovery is very rapid.
Triple Pelvic Osteotomy
This surgery is for dogs aged 8 - 18 months of age with hip dysplasia but without arthritis. Again the pelvis is rotated to make a better fitting ball and socket joint but it is done by cutting the pelvis and plating it back in a new position. It is a major surgical procedure.