Dog Hip Problems and Concerns
The most commonly seen of dog hip problems is probably hip dysplasia, a degenerative form of joint disease. This health problem is far more common in large breed dogs, but can also occur in medium and small breeds, and in dogs of all ages. It is thought to be a genetic condition. A "looseness" in the hip joint causes the joint to wear out and results in pain. It can also lead to arthritis. Some of the warning symptoms of dog hip problems include:
- Lameness on one or both hind legs.
- Pain or discomfort during or after exercise.
- An abnormal gait, ie. your dog may hop like a bunny instead of walking or trotting.
- A decrease in activity.
- Difficulty standing or walking after getting up.
Your vet will need to take an X-ray to determine whether hip dysplasia is really present. If it is, he will advise you on what method of treatment is best suited for your age, taking into account your dog's health, age, and the severity of the problem. Surgical and medical treatments are available, but you can also help your dog feel better by:
- Helping your dog to maintain a healthy weight. Extra weight puts additional stress on the joints.
- Providing your dog with regular, appropriate exercise. Exercise will help your dog maintain a healthy weight, while also maintaining muscle that supports the joints. Swimming is great because it doesn't put a lot of stress on the joints. You'll want to make sure your dog gets regular exercise, not just once or twice a week (this can make your dog sore afterwards, and more reluctant to get up and exercise when the time comes). Ask your vet to help you customize an exercise program that's suitable for your dog.
- dog ramp or steps next to the bed to make it easy for him to climb up instead of trying to jump.
- Ask your vet if massaging your dog's joints would help. If so, they can show you the proper technique. Go slow - your dog may be in pain and you don't want to scare him or make it worse!
- Consider complementary therapies like acupuncture or physiotherapy / rehab therapy. In some dogs, these types of treatments make a significant difference in both pain control and quality of life.
- orthopedic dog bed, which will help to support the dog's joints. Memory foam beds are wonderful because they provide great support for the joints. Keep the bed in a comfortably warm area - arthritis and hip problems often worsen with the cold or changes in temperature.