is good and bad
Exercise strengthens the muscles of the legs and pelvis, and this will increase the stability of the hip joint. But all exercise is not created equal.
Puppies raised on slippery surfaces or with access to stairs
when they are less than 3 months old have a higher risk of hip dysplasia,while those who are allowed off-lead exercise on soft, uneven ground (such as in a park) have a lower risk (Krontveit et al 2012). Dogs born in summer have a lower risk of hip
dysplasia, presumably because they have more opportunity for exercise outdoors (Ktontveit et al 2012). On the other hand, dogs from 12-24 months old that regularly chase a ball or stick thrown by the owner have an higher risk of developing dysplastic
hips (Sallander et al 2006).
The most critical period for proper growth and development of the hip in dogs is from birth to 8 weeks old, so the type of exercise the puppies are exposed to is most important during this time.
8) Nutrition is important
While puppies are growing rapidly, it is critically important to get their nutrition right.
Growing puppies need to eat enough to support growth but they should not be fat, because any extra
weight can increase the risk of developing hip dysplasia (Hedhammar et al 1975, Kasstrom 1975). An additional problem is that puppies getting too much food could also consume too much of specific nutrients. Puppies provided a quality commercial puppy food
that is fed in the proper amount will have a nutritionally balanced diet and should not receive any supplements. Dietary supplements, especially of calcium, are not only unnecessary but could cause serious problems. There is no evidence
that supplemental protein or vitamins will reduce the risk of hip dysplasia (Kealy et al 1991, Nap et al 1991, Richardson & Zentek 1998).
9) Early intervention is critical
Most treatments for hip dysplasia
are easier and more successful in younger dogs. If early symptoms are overlooked and screening is done only after 24 months or more, the window of time with the best prognosis in response to treatment will have passed (Morgan et al 2000). Signs of lameness
usually first appear when the puppy is 4 to 6 months old, but after a month or two the dog will often seem better. This is because damage to the acetabular rim such as microfractures will have healed and the dog is no longer in pain, but development of dysplasia
and osteoarthritis will continue. From there, the dog might not display clinical signs again for years while the pathological damage progresses.
Laxity in the joint can be determined as early as 4 months old (either by palpation or PennHIP). If
detected early, intervention to mitigate additional damage can include weight loss, modifying exercise and activities, or surgery - but it must be done early before skeletal growth is complete. Breeders should educate new puppy owners about
the factors that can increase the risk of developing hip dysplasia and also advise them to get a veterinary examination immediately if there is any sign of lameness.
10) We can dramatically reduce hip dysplasia now
Genetic selection should continue to produce modest progress in the reduction of hip dysplasia. But a significant and immediate reduction in the number of afflicted animals could be achieved by better control of non-genetic, environmental factors. Weight
management, appropriate exercise, proper nutrition, and early intervention at the first sign of lameness are simple steps we can take that will dramatically reduce the pain and suffering caused by hip dysplasia. The research will surely continue, but we already
have the information we need to tackle this problem.