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Alternative Therapies for Hip Dysplasia in a Dog


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If you've been around dogs for any amount of time, you've probably heard of hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is considered to be an extreme form of arthritis caused by inflammation and genetic make-up. 

When a dog's femur is deformed, it causes wearing away of the cartilage. Sometimes the hip socket is shallow and the femur does not fit in properly. Either way, the result is a debilitating, painful condition. 

As with most ailments, catching them early on gives your pup a better chance. Hip dysplasia is degenerative, which means that any damage that occurs is permanent. The hip joints form incorrectly, and as your dog ages, they start to have more and more leg mobility issues. 

Hip dysplasia is a degenerative, genetic condition and there are certain breeds that are prone. Big dogs seem to acquire it more often, although it is common in small dogs, too. The Saint Bernard, Rottweiler, German Shepherd, Great Dane, and Napoleon Mastiff are some of the dogs predisposed to hip problems, largely based on size. Smaller breeds that are seen in the veterinarian office for hip dysplasia are the Boxer, Bulldog, and Pug.

What are the symptoms of hip dysplasia in dogs?

A dog with hip dysplasia will show evidence of pain and may be prone to other mobility issues and injury. Look for the following symptoms in your dog:

  • Pain upon rising
  • Running with a bunny hop gait
  • Trouble with climbing stairs
  • Lack of interest in activity and exercise
  • Thigh muscles become atrophied
  • The back leg stance is widened
  • There may be a clicking noise upon movement

What are some alternative therapies for hip dysplasia in dogs?

  • Acupuncture, while not a cure, can decrease the pain felt in the limbs and joints
  • Supplements like MSM, fish oils, and glucosamine chondroitin are known to improve the condition of connective tissue
  • Talk to your vet about a diet change; sometimes an addition or complete change to raw foods helps
  • If your dog is overweight, discuss a weight loss plan with the vet to remove some of the pressure on the hips and joints
  • Therapy in the form of massage, water treadmill exercises, and physical therapy to mobilize the joints can help
  • Purchase an orthopedic mattress for comfortable sleeping and ease of getting up from rest
  • Anti-inflammatory medications can often reduce pain significantly
  • Non-slip booties may provide your dog with extra traction

Are there other options for treating hip dysplasia in dogs? 

Many pet parents want to help their dogs without invasive treatments that may take time and money to treat. Don't rule out an operation though, if your budget allows it and your veterinarian feels that the benefits are real. The type of surgery needed will depend on the extent of the hip dysplasia and your dog's age. Surgeries can range from fusing of the pelvic bones in very young dogs to a total hip replacement. Although putting your dog through an operation is rarely a cure in this case, it is wise to discuss all of the alternatives available (surgical and non-surgical) and choose the one that will offer your dog the most promising results.

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