There was a time when canine hip dysplasia created heartache solely for the owners of large breed dogs. But now hip dysplasia is happening at an alarming rate … among dogs of all sizes.
What Is Canine Hip Dysplasia?
Hip dysplasia is a degenerative joint disease first seen in 1935. It affects large breeds the most but can happen in any dog. Dogs with hip dysplasia have a ball and socket that don’t fit or develop properly. Over time they can rub and grind instead of sliding smoothly.
This is a painful condition that causes deterioration and loss of function.
Hip dysplasia is not arthritis. But in most cases, it leads to osteoarthritis in that joint.
Early Diagnosis of Hip Dysplasia In Dogs
To treat hip dysplasia naturally, it’s important to confirm the diagnosis as early as possible. Sometimes that could mean months into a dog’s life.
If you suspect hip dysplasia in your dog, ask your vet to examine him. She can …
- Manipulate your dog’s hind legs to gauge the looseness of the joint
- Check for any grinding, pain, or reduced range of motion
- Take X-rays
If you know your dog has hip dysplasia or his breed is prone to it, you can create a plan that promotes joint health to help your dog retain his mobility and quality of life.
More Information About Hip Dysplasia
Causes and signs of hip dysplasia, are big topics that warrant a separate article.
The same goes for surgery. Your veterinarian may tell you surgery is the best option for hip dysplasia. But many dogs do just as well (or better!) with natural therapies than dogs who get surgery.
Natural Ways To Manage Canine Hip Dysplasia
Prevention and support are the key approaches to naturally manage your dog’s hip dysplasia. And exercise and diet are at the top of the list.
If you have a breed that’s prone to hip dysplasia, then feeding joint supportive supplements throughout his life will help prevent the progress of this disease. And fortunately, several of these are foods that can be added to your dog’s diet as treats and chews.
Here are things you can start doing for your dog from puppyhood through to his senior years.
- Weight Control And Diet
- Minimal Vaccinations
- Delay Or Avoid Spaying Or Neutering
- Joint Supplements
- Green lipped mussels, collagen, chondroitin, hyaluronic acid, glucosamine
- Anti-inflammatory Herbs
- Activity And Physical Therapy
- Alternative Treatments
1. Weight Control And Diet
Weight control and diet are the most important ways to address hip dysplasia. Being overweight will strain your dog’s joints. If he’s already in the throes of hip dysplasia, that increases the pain and inflammation. And if he’s not, it will tax the joints and lead to early weakening of the joint structure, cartilage, and ligaments. When your dog maintains a low weight it’s easier to exercise and have him take part in regular activities that keep him lean.
Next is diet … a whole food, raw meat diet is best to obtain optimal nutrients that will support his joints and muscles. You can feed raw or cooked but stick to real, whole foods … meat, organs, fruits, vegetables, herbs, and raw meaty bones. Dog owners often see dramatic health improvements when they switch their dogs to fresh food … or even add some fresh foods to their existing commercial pet food.
It’s especially important to feed a puppy a diet that will support his growth so he doesn’t grow too fast.
2. Minimal Vaccinations
There is no legal or health need to give annual vaccinations. The only vaccine required by law is rabies, usually every 3 years. Once a puppy’s maternal antibodies have waned at 16-20 weeks of age, he can be vaccinated once for core diseases that will protect him for a minimum of 7 years and possibly a lifetime. If you’re concerned that your dog will be facing viruses in his day-to-day life, you can have him titer tested for antibodies to see if he still carries immunity to those diseases. Vaccinating more often puts your dog at risk to vaccine ingredients that can trigger responses in the body worse than the diseases being vaccinated against … especially lifelong joint issues.
RELATED: Lifelong vaccine immunity is real …
If you choose to spay or neuter, wait until your dog has reached full maturity … around 2 years old for a medium to large dog. That will go a long way to ensure he has healthy joint development.
Several studies show that early spay/neuter increases the risk of hip dysplasia in dogs.
4. Joint Supplements
Green lipped mussels can prevent and manage arthritis in dogs. That’s because they’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids as well as chondroitin sulfate which are important nutrients for dogs with arthritis pain. And it helps strengthen your dog’s joint capsule so it can hold more protective fluid.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. It’s found in muscle, bone, tendon, skin, blood vessels and even the digestive system. It holds the body together. And that’s why it’s important for joints and tendons. And it’s a huge part of your dog’s skin. Collagen is obtained from beef, chicken, and fish sources. But the best way to give it to your dog … is in bone broth.
Chondroitin is found in connective tissues in joint cartilage and bone. It pulls fluid into the cartilage making it elastic. It’s believed to block enzymes that break down cartilage. It also gives cartilage resistance to compression. Research shows when chondroitin is combined with glucosamine, cartilage breakdown slows and new cartilage production is increased. Chondroitin is also part of the larger hyaluronic acid molecule. Chrondroitin is available in the cartilage of animals. Popular supplements are made from shark or beef cartilage.
Hyaluronic acid is also known as sodium hyaluronate, hyaluronan or HA. It’s a natural gel-like substance found in the connective tissue and the synovial fluid of movable joints. Studies show that when injected, HA has been more bio-available (absorbable) and effective in improving the damaged HA joints. Additional studies involving dogs show HA to be effective in supporting healthy joint function and mobility. Foods containing naringenin (citrus fruit and tomatoes), magnesium (fruit, broccoli, leafy greens, nuts, and seeds), and phytoestrogens can also support the body in replenishing hyaluronic acid.
Glucosamine inhibits symptoms of joint disease. It plays a key role in reducing inflammation and the enzymes that can destroy cartilage. Glucosamine is naturally produced by the body but aging causes wear and tear on the joints and a reduction of glucosamine. That’s when supplementation is required. So start feeding it early in your dog’s life.
Curcumin – Curcumin is the active component in turmeric and has been used for medicinal purposes for hundreds of years. Curcumin has anti-inflammatory properties that inhibit the enzymes that cause inflammation. When it inhibits these destructive enzymes it prevents connective tissue breakdown without the use of NSAIDs. And it doesn’t cause gastrointestinal side effects or ulcers.
Garlic – Garlic has been used as an herbal remedy for centuries for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Garlic contains allicin, a sulfur-containing chemical. Allicin is the active ingredient that gives garlic its properties and its distinct odor.
Antioxidants protect against damage from free radicals that accelerate the aging process and lead to degenerative diseases. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that aids in the production of collagen, the protein necessary to form and repair capillaries and connective tissues that include cartilage, skin, bone, tendons and ligaments.
RELATED: How to give your dogs antioxidants …
5. Activity And Physical Therapy
Never underestimate the power of exercise, especially for its ability to maintain muscle. An x-ray may show a joint deformity but it will not show strong muscle. And strong muscle helps support weak joints … like dysplasic hips.
If you’ve got a breed susceptible to hip dysplasia, have him do strengthening exercises now. Walking is the best exercise. And work in some hills (up and down) to build strength in his joints. Hip dysplasia can lead to muscle atrophy so activity should be part of every dog’s lifestyle. If he’s showing signs of joint degeneration, go for shorter walks and look for softer surfaces with grass or sand.
Swimming or hydrotherapy bring excellent results for dogs with hip dysplasia. Many veterinary rehab facilities have an underwater treadmill or swimming pool. The buoyancy of the water reduces the pressure on your dog’s joints and allows him to exercise his rear leg muscles with much less pain. As he strengthens the rear muscles, he’ll maintain his mobility.
Physical therapy can also provide helpful exercises for your dog. It usually includes a combination of massage and joint mobilization movements involving balance and inclines.
Homeopathic remedies have a history of restoring dislocations and setting broken bones. They can gently stimulate and assist the healing process of orthopedic issues like hip dysplasia. They can be used at all stages of the injury from inflammation to reparative to remodeling. For a chronic condition like hip dysplasia, you’ll need to work with a homeopathic vet who can analyze your dog’s entire symptom picture and prescribe the best-fitting remedies. Find one at theavh.org.
7. Alternative Therapies
Acupuncture, class 4 laser, stem cell treatments, PEMF (pulsed electromagnetic frequency) therapy, and Traditional Chinese Medicine are other therapies that can help manage hip dysplasia.
Can A Dog Live A Normal Life With Hip Dysplasia?
Yes, especially if you take steps to strengthen his joints and keep him strong. If your dog is diagnosed with hip dysplasia, he can live a long, happy life. Providing a healthy diet and regular activity are key factors.
Carapeba, Gabriel O. L. et al. Intra-Articular Hyaluronic Acid Compared to Traditional Conservative Treatment in Dogs with Osteoarthritis Associated with Hip Dysplasia. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Vol. 2016, Article ID 2076921, 10 pages, 2016.
Marti-Angulo, Simon, et al. Efficacy of an oral hyaluronate and collagen supplement as a preventive treatment of elbow dysplasia. J. Vet. Sci. 2014 Dec; 15(4): 569–574.
Fries, CL, et al. The pathogenesis and diagnosis of canine hip dysplasia: a review. Can. Vet. J. 1995 Aug; 36(8): 494–502.
Bell, Jerold S. Managing Polygenic Disease: Canine Hip Dysplasia as an Example. Tufts Univ School of Vet. Med. Tufts’ Canine and Feline Breeding and Genetics Conference, 2003.
Bari AS, Carter SD, Bell SC, Morgan K, Bennett D. Anti-type II collagen antibody in naturally occurring canine joint diseases. Br J Rheumatol. 1989 Dec;28(6):480-6.