Activities For Dogs With Hip Dysplasia

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Introduction

Hip dysplasia is typically a genetic disorder that occurs in many breeds, such as the German Shepherd, Bulldog, and Rottweiler. Nowadays, many breeders have their dogs x-rayed prior to breeding in an effort to prevent the disorder. Canines who suffer from hip dysplasia have an abnormally formed hip socket and ball joint. In severe cases, the dog will eventually become lame and even paralyzed. Veterinarians often operate in order to fix the abnormality but many owners simply cannot afford the expensive surgery. Hip dysplasia surgery often runs from $1,700 to $4,500.  In such cases, owners often seek alternative therapies to help their dogs cope with the problem. Nonetheless, dogs with hip dysplasia still want to live fulfilling lives and have fun, which means that activities must be planned that the pooches can enjoy without too much discomfort.

Swimming

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Any Day
Cheap
Easy
30 min
Items needed
Doggy Life vest
Activity description
Dogs with hip dysplasia have a difficult time walking and putting weight on their hindquarters. Water exercises are an ideal cardio choice for such pets. The buoyancy of the water lifts the canine up so that no significant pressure is put on the hips. Many dogs also find the water to be soothing. It eases pain and loses tight ligaments. Dogs with hip dysplasia enjoy swimming every chance they get once they discover their freedom in the water. Remember that many breeds are natural born swimmers (such as Newfoundlands) but others might require a bit of coaching to get their sea legs.
Step
1
Gearing up
If you don't know whether your dog is a good swimmer or not, you are going to want to purchase a life vest for the pooch. Even if your dog can swim they may become tired and rely on the life vest to support them. Either way, you are going to want to put a life vest on your dog before you enter the water.
Step
2
Take it slow and wade
At first, you are going to want to take it slow. Just wade into the water with your dog. Initially, don't force your dog to swim. Offer encouragement and let your pet know that the water is fun. Continue to walk your pooch deeper and deeper. If your dog is responding well to the shallow water, then it is time to move into a deeper area.
Step
3
Swimming
Once your dog starts to swim and is lifted upward by the life vest, it is time to let the pooch really move around. Call your dog across the water. Use treats to get your canine swimming. Do whatever it takes to get your fur baby to enjoy the water and swim. Be aware of their limitations and the fatigue factor; never overdo the activity.
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Level Surface Walking

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Any Day
Free
Easy
15 min
Items needed
Leash and Collar
Activity description
Living with hip dysplasia is difficult for a dog. Many times a canine with this condition just wants to lay around, but the lack of exercise causes obesity and stiffness. The excessive weight the dog starts to put on makes movement even more painful and difficult. In many ways, a dog that suffers from hip dysplasia is caught in a nasty catch 22 situation. Activities are required to control the dog's weight and alleviate the discomfort in the hips. The trick to planning activities for your dog is to take into consideration your pooch's lameness and discomfort. Your best fur buddy might like a slow and easy walk to burn off calories if you do it right.
Step
1
Scouting ahead
If you want to take your dog for a walk then you will need to scout ahead to find the perfect location. The ground must be level with no obstacles. Look for cracks in the pavement, rocks, tree roots or anything that might make your canine stumble. Remember that most dogs suffering from hip problems do not lift their feet high when walking.
Step
2
Leashing up
If your dog is in pain then the sight of the leash may not make your canine happy. You will want to excite your dog by talking in a sing song voice and offering words of encouragement as you put the leash on your pooch's collar. Remember to coax your dog along.
Step
3
Walking slow
Adjust your stride to match your dog's gait. Do not force your canine to overdo the walk. Take each step slow and easy. Always offer words of encouragement. You might even want to provide treats along the way. Keep the walks short and do not go very far from the car so you can easily load up when the walk is over.
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Massage Your Dog

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Any Day
Free
Easy
15 min
Items needed
Yoga Mat
Activity description
Yes, massaging your dog is often the best thing that you can do for your pet. It will keep the muscles and ligaments loose and also provide relief to painful joints. Many canines readily look forward to their daily massages. All the owner has to do is lay down the yoga mat and many dogs will climb right on in anticipation of the relaxing massage. Really, dogs are no different than people. Canines also love to have a gentle deep tissue massage before a nap to relieve tension and reduce pain. Many pet owners massage their pooches on a daily basis.
Step
1
Yoga mat introduction
Introducing a newbie dog to a yoga mat is sometimes difficult. Many canines balk at standing or laying on the unfamiliar surface. Offer lots of words of encouragement while enforcing the stay command. Practice having your pup walk to the mat. Let them lay down for a few minutes and then allow them to move on.
Step
2
Consult the vet
Before starting any massage program, consult your vet in regards to procedure. You do not want to perform any manipulation that could be harmful or painful. Once you have instruction, start slow and give a short treatment only. In a circular motion start to massage your dog's hip area using direct pressure with the palms of your hand. If your canine flinches or pulls away then cease the action.
Step
3
Pressure and relaxation
Always gradually increase the pressure of the massage. Use one or two hands to work your dog's muscles and sore joints. Offer words of encouragement as you let your hands run the full length of your canine's hindquarter. You might want to provide a full body massage simply to relieve tension and stress from your companion's body. When the session is complete, give praise to your pup!
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More Fun Ideas...

Underwater Treadmill

Some veterinary offices that are geared towards rehabilitation of dogs that suffer from joint problems such as hip dysplasia offer underwater treadmills for the dogs to work out on. The dog walks in the water but the water's buoyancy uplifts the dog to take the pressure off the pooch's hips. Some owners might even want to invest in their own underwater treadmills. Many manufacturers offer them for at home use, although the product can be very costly. Treadmills are a great way to provide needed exercise for your fur baby while working your dog's joints to relieve inflammation and discomfort.

Wheelchair Walking

If your dog suffers from severe hip dysplasia, it may be time to purchase a doggy wheelchair. With such a device, you strap your dog's hindquarters onto the wheelchair and your pooch uses their front legs to pull the backside around.  The front leg workout is a great exercise for a disabled pooch and will definitely burn some calories while maintaining your dog's cardiovascular system. Most dogs readily accept the canine wheelchair and even seem to appreciate the freedom that it provides. As with everything, the key to getting your four-legged friend to accept the device is to offer a combination of praise and treats.

Conclusion

Hip dysplasia is a sad and life-altering diagnosis. There are different degrees of dysplasia but, ultimately, without surgery, most dogs worsen and start to develop arthritis in the joints which accentuates the discomfort. The canine quickly turns into a couch potato who is unable to work off the unwanted pounds. Activities that are geared towards dogs that suffer from hip dysplasia are ideal to help keep unwanted weight off your pet, keep the joints and ligaments active, and stave off arthritis. Prior to embarking on any exercise routine with your dog, you should first consult with your veterinarian to determine that it is safe.