Hip Dysplasia 101 for Golden Retrievers – Part 1

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I don’t know that much about the inner anatomies of a dog. But I have a best friend who breeds German Shepherds and Pomeranians for a living. She would often explain to me about the importance of a canine with good hips. I know her breeds are not Golden Retrievers, but perhaps I could interview her to answer any dog related questions anyone may have. Any readers interested?

Willow

en.wikipedia.org
en.wikipedia.org

Moving on from that little ramble, I have seen a very friendly and lovable golden retriever with hip dysplasia. Not too long ago, the area where I lived in suffered from flooding. My fiancé and the rest of our family had to relocate to a relative of his for a couple of days. It was there where I met Willow.

Willow was very friendly and was more than happy to accommodate me with the kisses and cuddles. But I frowned, as I noticed that she moved around quite funny. Of course, I asked her owner (my fiancé’s aunt) what was wrong with Willow. And that was when I learned that she had hip dysplasia.

What is Hip Dysplasia?

For those of you that might not be familiar with this condition, this definition was taken from http://www.ufaw.org.uk/dogs/golden-retriever-hip-dysplasia:

Hip dysplasia (HD) is a complex condition where the hip joints of a growing puppy develop abnormally. The primary reason for this abnormal development is hip joint laxity ie the joint is too loose; leading to the two articulating parts of the joint of the pelvis – the femoral head and the acetabulum (which form the ball-and-socket of the joint) – moving abnormally relative to one another; the femoral head subluxating (partly dislocating) from the acetabulum.

An Educational chart on HD
An Educational chart on HD

Picture taken from: https://rabbreeder.wordpress.com/over/hip-dysplasia/

This leads to abnormal stresses and strains on the joint and leads to inflammation and degeneration of the joint tissues. Ultimately, permanent osteoarthritis develops in the joints. These changes produce pain and disability for the dog which may show in a number of ways, such as lameness, abnormal gait (movement), stiffness, reluctance to get up and move and difficulty in running and playing.

Further research tells me that this condition has a major welfare impact for many dogs with the condition. Though it may initially cause intermittent disease, HD develops into a persistent condition causing chronic joint pain and progressive disability due to joint deformation. Chronic joint pain can be severe and debilitating and may need constant medication to control. Control can be difficult and euthanasia is common.

The above website further explains that for some dogs signs of HD will develop whilst they are still immature (less than a year old), and others signs can develop at any age after maturity. It is a progressive disease which only gets worse with age. Once present it remains throughout life, unless major surgical interventions are undertaken.

Unfortunately, that means the worse for my poor friend, Willow. She was such a friendly girl and it really hurts me to see all that pain in her eyes. Of course, she is lucky to have loving owners who care for her. 

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