Hip dysplasia in dogs is categorized by an abnormal formation in the ball and socket joints, resulting in said joints that grind against one another as opposed to joints that glide smoothly. This disease is one of the most common skeletal diseases in canines and can develop at any period in a dog’s life. Some dogs show symptoms of hip dysplasia as early as four months old, while other dogs develop it in later stages of life as an effect of osteoarthritis. Larger breeds are more likely to develop hip dysplasia, with certain breeds like the German Shepherd, the Labrador and the Great Dane having a higher genetic predisposition for the disease compared to smaller breeds.
Symptoms of hip dysplasia in dogs include the following: decreased range in motion, mild to moderate lameness, reluctance to exercise, and visible stiffness after rising from rest. The surest way to find out if your dog has hip dysplasia is to visit a veterinarian and get a full physical check-up for your dog, along with an X-ray.
Depending on the severity of the dog’s hip dysplasia, it may be treated with some lifestyle changes for your dog and physiotherapy sessions. More serious cases of hip dysplasia may require surgery, but the kind of surgery is dependent on the dog’s age and size. A surgical operation wherein the socket is rotated may be done for dogs less than a year old, while a hip replacement surgery is the best option for older dogs who are not responding to physical therapy. For outpatient dogs, prescriptions for conventional OTC medicine such as anti-inflammatory drugs and pain medication are given to manage hip dysplasia.
Caring for a dog with hip dysplasia is no easy task, nor is it cheap. There will be follow-up appointments, more X-rays, and prescriptions to fill out in order to monitor and relieve your dog’s condition. In the long run, it would be wiser and more cost-efficient to get health insurance for your pet as a preemptive measure if your dog does indeed have hip dysplasia. (Even if your dog is perfectly healthy, getting health insurance for your pet is still a smart thing to do!)
Meanwhile, there are plenty of holistic treatments and lifestyle changes for your dog that you can do at home to help relieve your dog’s hip dysplasia. Below are some treatments you can do at home:
Put your dog on a fresh food diet.
Weight control is an important aspect of caring for a dog with hip dysplasia, as you do not want your dog to be overweight and put more stress on its joints. One of the simplest ways to mitigate your dog’s hip dysplasia is to change up your dog’s diet. Start them on a cooked and raw meat diet (lean beef in particular is good due to the protein). Other ideal foods to add to your dog’s diet are fresh vegetables like carrots and kale, whole grains, bone broth (made with chicken bones), and knox gelatin. Be sure to avoid vegetables such as those in the nightshade family (peppers, potatoes, eggplants, etc) as they can worsen your dog’s condition.
Add supplements and herbs to your dog’s diet.
Dietary supplements are an extremely effective addition to your dog’s diet. Colloidal silver has been proven to regenerate tissue and bone while colloidal gold helps reduce swelling and pain. Omega-3 fatty acids are good for joint inflammation relief. Adding herbs such as licorice, ginger, alfalfa, rosemary and cayenne to your dog’s food will also help with inflammation and promote blood circulation.
Give your dog a warm bath once in a while.
Fill up your bathtub with warm water, throw in some Epsom salt, and your dog will thank you forever. (If your dog could talk, that is.) This bath routine is perfect for relieving hip dysplasia pain triggered by cold water and/or cold weather.
If you have a pool in your backyard, taking your dog for a swim every day would be a great workout as it puts little stress on the joints. If you do not have a pool, you can buy an inflatable plastic one from the store and it should work just as well. You can also take your dog to a nearby beach if you lack the space for an inflatable pool and make a fun family trip out of it!
Take your dog on walks (but stick to soft surfaces!).
Having hip dysplasia does not mean your dog should have to exercise less. In fact, it requires your dog to get more exercise than ever before as hip dysplasia makes them more prone to muscle atrophy. Choosing the appropriate form of exercise is key. Though hip dysplasia results in an abnormal gait and limping, taking your dog for a good old-fashioned walk is still very much encouraged as it gives their legs a nice workout. Just make sure to stick to routes with soft surfaces like grass or sand and avoid concrete paths. Inclined surfaces like hills also increase muscle development.
Use a heat pack on your dog.
Heat packs (yes, the one in your medicine cabinet) help relieve and soothe the pain caused by hip dysplasia. Put it as close to your dog’s hips as much as possible. You can even let your dog sleep with it overnight and you can be assured that they will wake up feeling better and recharged.
These are just some of the home remedies available for a dog with hip dysplasia. Some of these remedies may seem simple, but over time, the effects brought about by these new routines will show themselves during your next appointment at the vet. Remember: your dog is counting on you to help maintain, or in this case, improve their quality of life. You owe it to them to do everything you can to make sure they are getting the proper care. After all, in the end, you still come out getting the most out of this bargain: you get more years with your best friend.