Saint Bernard dogs are powerful, proportionately tall, strong and muscular, big boned and deep chested, and for these reasons you would think that hip dysplasia in these dogs would be something extremely rare. The truth is, it’s the other way around: Joint problems are very common for dogs of this breed.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF HIP DYSPLASIA?
- Hobbles, or walks/trots with an irregular gait
- Tries to keep weight off one of the rear legs
- Starts to slow down or limp on a favorite walk or run
- Stays in bed instead of playing outdoors
- Whimpers or yelps when climbing stairs
- Flinches when hip area or lower back are touched
WHAT HAPPENS IN HIP DYSPLASIA – WHY DOES IT HURT?
Dysplasia is simply the dislocation of a bone from its proper place. “Plasia” is the Greek word for molding, so it’s easy to visualize an architectural form, like a beam or column, separating from its stabilizing molding. Hip dysplasia or displacement is one of the best-known types of dysplasia in dogs.
The degenerative process of hip dysplasia is gradual, and so the onset of symptoms—the pain, specifically—also is somewhat gradual, taking place over the course of years. In simple terms, the two bones of the hip joint shift out of alignment. The structure of a dog’s hip bones is similar to our human hip formation, consisting of a precisely fitted ball-and-socket joint. This is called a “spheroidal” joint, referring to the spherical head of the distal or articulating bone, which fits into the cup-like cavity of the accompanying bone.
Perhaps because they are such hand-working structures, the ball and socket joints are prone to disease, and to simple mechanical wear and damage over time. Winston’s Joint System and Winston’s Pain Formula, two products for dogs developed by a naturopathic doctor, offer support and relief for many conditions affecting the joints, including hip dysplasia and osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory diseases which also are common in dogs, attacking the cartilage, muscles and membrane linings of cartilage and joints.
HERE’S THE BREAKDOWN:
- Hip dysplasia results in several symptoms which reduce mobility and cause pain:
- The muscles and joints become lax, and the joint capsule, a strong band of connective tissue which circled the bones for added stability, loses its elastic strength.
- As this happens, the articular (working) surfaces of the two bones lose contact with each other. The bones slowly separate as the soft tissues around the joint degenerate. The disease may affect both hips, or only the right or left.
WHAT CAUSES HIP DYSPLASIA?
Experts disagree as to the source of hip dysplasia in dogs.
- TOO MUCH FOOD? One theory is that feeding a young, growing dog too many calories early in its development contributes to the disorder.
- TOO MUCH EXERCISE? Another theory is that too much exercise, or the wrong kind of exercise, or simply too much high-impact exercise, such as fetching, jumping and catching a ball or Frisbee on concrete, contributes to hip dysplasia.
These theories are not conclusive, though of course appropriate nutrition and training are essential to the health and well-being of any pet.
A factual observation about this condition is that hip dysplasia tends to affect large breeds more so than smaller dogs. This, too, is relative—it is possible for small dogs to become affected by hip dysplasia, too. However, we correctly associate the condition most frequently with big breeds.
These breeds do carry a genetic predisposition toward the condition. It is also true that purebreds, especially in these large dogs, are most likely to become vulnerable to hip dysplasia, therefore calling upon informed and responsible breeding practices.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
Our first instinct as dog-lovers is to stop the pain. Sometimes our decision-making process is clouded by emotion—guilt, fear, even panic when we see our beloved canine companion suffering. Many conventional treatments for hip dysplasia in dogs have side-effects, or simply don’t work.
- If your dog is clearly in pain, schedule a visit with your veterinarian. An X-ray examination will be recommended as a first step.
- Winston’s Joint System and Winston’s Pain Formula may offer your dog safe alternatives, calming inflammation as an immediate solution, and helping to rebuild joint integrity as a long-range treatment.
- Monitor your dog’s weight. Obesity makes hip dysplasia worse. If your dog becomes less active, weight-gain may become a challenge. Eliminate treats, and if possible, offer your dog low-impact exercise like stretching and swimming.
- Remove unnecessary physical stressors from your dog’s life.
- Replace stairs with a ramp while your dog is recovering, to prevent further damage to the damaged hip.
- Provide a padded dog-bed—sleeping on hard surface may increase the inflammation associated with hip dysplasia. A gel-bed, which actually contains a soft jelly that conforms to your dog’s body, relieves pressure from sore joints.
- Experiment with low-heat heating pads or fleece-covered hot water bottle, as well as gentle massage, as ways to relax your dog and provide comfort during the healing process.
Since 1990, Winston’s Joint System and Winston’s Pain Formula have helped heal over twenty thousand dogs from all over the world. Our staff specializes in hip dysplasia, arthritis and all joint, pain and mobility issues.
There is an excellent chance we can help your dog, so please contact us at: www.dogshealth.com or call our toll free number at 888-901-5557.
IS YOUR DOG IN PAIN?
Does Your Dog Have Trouble:
- Getting up?