What Is Canine Hip Dysplasia?
Canine hip dysplasia is a common skeletal condition, especially in large or giant breed dogs, although it can occur in smaller breeds, as well. In order to understand how the disease works, owners first need to understand the basic anatomy of the hip joint.
The hip joint functions as a ball and socket. In dogs with hip dysplasia, this joint fails to develop properly, rubbing and grinding instead of sliding smoothly. This results in deterioration over time and an eventual loss of function of the joint itself.
What Causes Hip Dysplasia in Dogs?
There are several factors that lead to the development of hip dysplasia in dogs, beginning with genetics. Hip dysplasia is hereditary and is especially common in large and giant breed dogs, like the Great Dane, St. Bernard, Labrador Retriever, and German Shepherd Dog. This genetic predisposition can be amplified by environmental factors, such as excessive growth, exercise, your dog’s weight and your dog’s nutrition.
Large and giant breed puppies have special nutrition requirements and need specially formulated large breed puppy foods. These foods help prevent excessive growth, which can lead to skeletal disorders like hip dysplasia, along with elbow dysplasia and other joint conditions. Slowing down these breeds’ growth allows their joints to develop without putting too much strain on them, helping to prevent problems down the line. Keep in mind, hip dysplasia is not limited to large or giant dog breeds.
Improper nutrition can also influence a dog’s likelihood of developing hip dysplasia, as can too much exercise – or too little. Obesity puts a lot of stress on your dog’s joints, which can exacerbate a pre-existing condition like hip dysplasia or even cause hip dysplasia. Talk to your vet about the best diet for your dog and the appropriate amount of exercise your dog needs each day to keep him in good physical condition.