Dysplasia; A Detailed View
March 20, 2019
There are two types of dysplasia for Dogs and Puppies – Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia.
Hip dysplasia is a fairly common degenerative joint disease which affects a large number of dog breeds at some stage in their lives. So far, medicine has established a lot of facts about the disease, but unfortunately, there are quite uncertain factors which are yet to be uncovered. The following article reveals everything that you will need to know about dysplasia to make an informed decision on how to care for your pet. Of course, this information wasn’t intended to replace advice from your vet!
What is Hip Dysplasia?
To understand what hip dysplasia is, you need to know the basics in the anatomy of the hip joint. This joint connects the rear leg to the pelvis consists of a circular portion (femoral head) and a capsule (acetabulum part of the pelvis).
In a normal joint, the femoral head moves smoothly into the acetabulum and the shape of the two bones fit perfectly; the capsule tightly covers the femoral head. For greater rigidity, the two parts are connected by the hinge. The place in which two bones make contact is called articular surface and is covered by a perfectly smooth articular cartilage. In a healthy dog, all these features help the joint to work smoothly and reliably.
Dysplasia is the result of the improper formation of the hip in the growing dog. It can be bilateral or not – meaning that it may only affect one side of the body.
Hip Dysplasia commonly develops as a result of very weak muscles, ligaments and joint capsule that surrounds it. Most dogs with dysplasia are born with normal joints, but because of genetic and possibly other factors, the soft tissues around the joint are formed incorrectly during growth. As a result, the joint capsule and the connection is overextended, which contributes to further instability of the joint. Thereafter, the joint surfaces of the two bones lose contact with one another. This separation of the bones is called subluxation, and in itself, this element causes subsequent changes in osteoarthritic hip dysplasia. Osteoarthritis is a chronic progressive, degenerative change of the joints, which can cause chronic pain or discomfort, and reluctance to move.
When Does Dysplasia Occur?
Dogs of any age can have signs of dysplasia and subsequent osteoarthritis. In very severe cases, even puppies aged about five months may show signs of pain and discomfort after exercise. Without treatment, these puppies can reach inability to move in 2 to 3 years.
What are the signs of dysplasia?
Clinical symptoms of dysplasia can be: walking or running with an altered gait, especially the so-called "Bunny hoping gait" (jumps with both feet simultaneously). Numbness and pain after a walk in the morning or show decreased desire for physical activity. Deterioration reduced muscle tone, some animals need help to stand. Many owners believe that this is a normal condition due to age but often shocked by the lack of improvement in pain after treatment initiation.
Which Breeds Suffer from Hip Dysplasia?
Prone to this disease are mainly large dogs and giant breeds. Dysplasia rarely affects medium or even small breeds. Usually affected are the purebred dogs, but cross breeds can also suffer from the condition.
The breeds which are most prone to suffering include German Shepherd, Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever, Rottweiler, Bordeaux Mastiff, Newfoundland, German Mastiff, Saint Bernard, Bernese Mountain dog, Neapolitan Mastiff, Chow Chow, English Bulldog and others.
On the other hand, some breeds are less prone to the disease, like the hounds for example.
What are the risk factors for the development of dysplasia?
Dysplasia is caused by looseness of the joint. This looseness results in wear and damage to the cartilage, causing pain and the development of osteoarthritis.
Almost all studies show a genetic hereditary factor. If parents suffer from hip dysplasia is very likely their offspring also to develop it. According to some authors, the cause of dysplasia is entirely genetic, while others think that heredity is a factor contributing to not more than 25% of the disease development. One thing is clear - the incidence of the disease can increase or decrease according to the contrary conducted the selective breeding program.
If two dogs with dysplasia are crossed, most likely their puppies will suffer from the disease, but not necessarily all dogs show the same signs or symptoms at all may be missing. Unfortunately, these animals transmit the disease to their offspring, where it manifests itself in varying degrees. That is why the eradication of dysplasia as a disease from a breed line is very difficult.
Nutrition is another important factor. The risk for developing dysplasia in dogs with overweight is significantly higher, this is especially true for rapidly growing in animals aged 3-10 months. In older dogs with already evolved dysplasia, obesity promotes more rapid progression of the degenerative changes in the joints. Studies regarding the amount of calcium and protein in the diet of growing dogs and the risk of dysplasia now have conflicting results.
Physical activity is another risk factor. It seems that in predisposed breeds of dogs, excessive physical activity contributes to the development of dysplasia. At the same time, it is known that animals with well-developed muscles of the hind legs, rarely have a problem. So exercise and maintenance of developed muscle mass reduces the risk of dysplasia. Moderate activity that trains gluteal muscles, swimming and running, seems a good idea. Activities which have increased pressure on joints such as games related to jumping are contraindicated.
How to diagnose hip dysplasia?
Hip dysplasia will be diagnosed by a clinical examination along with an x-ray. In the advanced form of dysplasia with evident osteoarthritis - the diagnosis is usually easy. When it comes to healthy animals without clinical signs, who will be used for breeding, determining whether the dog is free of dysplasia can be difficult. The same applies to young dogs (4 to 6 months of age).
There are a large number of clinical samples and tests for the detection of abnormal looseness of the hip joint - test with subluxation, test with axial compression, Ortolani, Barlow, Bardens tests and others.
Radiographic most objective indicators are: the angle of Norberg-Olsen index of distraction, DAR angle, X-rays revealing these indicators are in 6 different projections.
The hip joints are assessed by reviewing and measure their different anatomical structures and angles. There are five stages for HD:
- "A" - Healthy dog
- "B" - Light Form
- "C" - Medium form
- "D" - Hard Form (its forbidden to breed a dog with this form)
- "E" - Very hard form
What should you do if your dog has Hip or Elbow Dysplasia?
Dogs with hip dysplasia can be treated conservatively or surgically. Your vet will give you the most accurate information about the condition of your dog.
How to treat dysplasia conservatively?
There is no non-surgical cure for hip or elbow dysplasia. Osteoarthritis is a complex and chronic condition that usually cannot be cured, but rather can be remedied. There are many factors that help ease suffering and increase mobility.
But be warned, the conservative approach is fairly complex, the drug therapy for dysplasia developed a lot in recent years and offers many opportunities. Because of the hereditary nature of the disease, there is no medicine which has a prophylactic effect. However, with a proper diet, exercise, nutritional supplements and anti-inflammatory agents is possible to improve the clinical condition of the dog and to slow the progression of the degenerative changes. Sadly, bone fragility and modifications do not respond to the medication.
Conservative therapy may be suitable for young dogs and adults with chronic osteoarthritis. Due to the high price of some surgical techniques, drug therapy is the only real way out for many owners.
Weight control is the first thing that is recommended for patients with dysplasia. Physical activity and exercise are the next important step. A patient with dysplasia needs activity, which provides a good range of movement, exercise of the muscles and joints of the low load. Swimming, walking slowly and even running, slowly climbing stairs are useful exercises, although the program of activity should be individualized according to the degree of osteoarthritis and weight. In principle, the immobilization may be more harmful than the activity.
Massages and physiotherapy are a good decision. There really sophisticated methods of physical therapy applied in clinical conditions:
- Kinesiotherapy - stretching, passive movements and others.
- Deep heat with ultrasound
Climbing and descending stairs can be a serious source of pain for some patients, so avoid them to reduce the painful moments.
Heat and sleeping surface are really important. Signs of arthritis are often worse in cold, wet weather. It is important to ensure the warmth of your pet. Dog clothes, shorter walks in cold weather, warm rooms, thick padded sleeping surface are factors which help reduce the signs of arthritis.
What is the surgical treatment of hip dysplasia?
Surgical therapy can be very effective and can save years of patient acceptance of pain medication. Operations are often invasive and expensive.
There are several surgical techniques depending on the age and degree of degenerative changes. The procedures can be quite simple and without any complications (simfiziodeza) to quite invasive, expensive techniques with a risk of serious complications (endoprosthesis).
The clinical relevance of Elbow dysplasia is very high, as is common and can cause lasting effects. Unfortunately, the elbow joint tolerance to malfunctions is low and very rare pathologies have no symptoms. This contrasts with the clinical relevance of hip dysplasia, in which you can "tolerate" serious changes.
What is the reason for the improper formation of the elbow?
The main factors are genetic, with less influence of environmental factors and media-feeding activity at a young age. There are currently no more than one hundred genes that contribute to the elbow dysplasia. Some of the most important genetic factors determine unsynchronized growth. This leads to biomechanical overload of the joint surface of one of the two bones.
What are the signs of elbow dysplasia?
Clinical signs of ED are associated with changes in gait. They can vary from periodic, subtle lameness after exercise to apparent, high grade lameness, unresponsive to medication and strongly deteriorating quality of life of affected dogs. Lameness may occur at any time of the dog's life, but there are two main peaks - at an early age (in case of problem) or after years as a result of permanent arthritic changes.
How to diagnose ED?
For examination of the elbow joint are used three basic methods: X-ray, computed tomography (scanner), and Arthroscopy. Although any abnormality in the development of the elbow joint can be called dysplasia, there are 4 basic forms which may occur alone or in combination:
0, 1, 2, 3, where "0" is normal, and "3" is a severe form of ED. Methods of treatment are the same as in Hip Dysplasia.
In conclusion, to avoid buying a puppy genetically predisposed to dysplasia, we strongly advise you to check all the parent's health certificates, before choosing from a number of puppies for sale.