Hip Dysplasia in Keeshonds

The Keeshond –the national dog of the Netherlands– is a breed of dog known for its people-friendliness, sensitivity and empathy. Unfortunately, hip dysplasia in Keeshonds is a common occurrence.

HIP DYSPLASIA IN KEESHONDS – WHAT IS IT?

Hip dysplasia is a degenerative condition, which can affect any dog. Although the causes may vary, the effects are always the same: loss of mobility, increasing pain, impaired gait, even behavioral and mood-changes in your dog, including snappishness and depression.

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF HIP DYSPLASIA?

Hip dysplasia robs your dog of its most fundamental drive as an animal: to run. Our domestic pets share common roots as hunting pack-animals, like wolves. While many breeds of dogs have developed specialties, such as the ability to burrow, dig, and swim in the pursuit of prey, all dogs are literally born to run. However, hip dysplasia makes running and even walking painful, sometimes to the point where the animal has difficulty rising from a sleep-position, and resists movement. Playtime with other dogs and humans becomes too excruciating to bear. This lack of activity may result in weight gain, which compounds the discomfort of hip dysplasia. The condition may even make the dog’s hips and lower back too sensitive to touch, during brushing, grooming, bathing—even hugging! So, your dog becomes less active, isolated, disconnected, and often low-energy.

SIGNS THAT YOUR DOG MAY HAVE 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

In short, hip dysplasia can reduce your feisty, sparkling companion and playmate to a diminished creature, which barely leaves its bed.

 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.

The purpose of joints is to provide movement to the body. A healthy canine spheroidal joint controls this movement with the support of muscles, ligaments and tendons. The ends of the bones are covered in tough cartilage, and lined with synovial membrane, with contains a small amount of synovial fluid as lubricant. In fact, the ball and socket joint is the most mobile in the body – in both dogs and humans.  The design allows the articulating or distal bone to rotate around three main axes with a common center, allowing the leg (or, in the case of the elbow ball and socket, the arm) an extremely versatile range of movement. The ability to swivel, pivot and rotate with speed and agility is what makes dogs great hunters.

In the case of the hip, the articulating or distal bone is called the femur. The cup-shaped socket bone is called the acetabulum, located on the pelvis.

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.

With the loss of protective scaffolding between the bone surfaces, the nerves in the bone-endings themselves are exposed. When bone touches bone, there is acute pain. In addition, the loss of tensile strength of the supporting tendons, muscle and cartilage mean that other structures in the hip and leg must compensate in terms of weight-bearing and movement. This unnatural compensation may cause fatigue, pain, and may even cause the dog to injure itself—running to catch a Frisbee, or climbing stairs, for instance.

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.

But here’s the thing: many of us fall in love at the animal shelter. We may generously rescue a dog whose history is entirely unknown. A darling “Shepherd mix” from the pound may represent a complex genetic history, a history to which we have no access. Medical problems may indeed manifest down the line, and hip dysplasia could be one of these. This condition is common, and is not a death-sentence. Winston’s Joint System and Winston’s Pain Formula (www.dogshealth.com) offer a holistic, gentle and effective way to manage your dog’s hip dysplasia, from the first signs of stiffness, discomfort or loss of mobility.

 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.
  • 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.

Bringing a dog into your life requires a leap of faith, and a demands commitment to that dog’s health and well-being. It is virtually impossible verify the genetic “blueprint” of any animal, even if the animal is pedigreed and purchased through a breeder. Recessive genetic tendencies are difficult to identify, and may take us by surprise. Because we are unable to identify the sources of this condition, realistically it is not possible to truly prevent it. Avoiding large breeds and purebreds may be one precaution, but many dogs who are not in either of these categories do experience hip dysplasia as well.  With this in mind, advanced formulas and ongoing research continue to offer non-invasive, non-intrusive, gently effective treatments for the common canine condition known as hip dysplasia.

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.

 

 

Pet Emergencies Needing a Vet

An emergency trip to the veterinarian can be very stressful and result in a large bill, and there are some pet emergencies that absolutely require an immediate visit to the vet.

Deciding if your dog’s health problem is so serious that it needs immediate vet care can be a difficult decision that means the difference between spending thousands of dollars versus hundreds of dollars if you can schedule an appointment during regular hospital hours. However, it can also mean the difference between life and death for your dog.

    These are symptoms of problems that require immediate emergency veterinary care:

The most common health problems requiring an emergency visit to the pet hospital are open wounds, serious burns, and broken bones. If your dog has been hit by a car, has been in a fight with another animal, or has fallen victim to some other accident, take it to the emergency vet immediately.

White, blue or pale gums are signs of low blood pressure, poor circulation, anemia, internal bleeding, or shock. These symptoms are a clear sign that something is seriously wrong with your dog.

If you think your dog has ingested a toxic item like chocolates, pesticides, onions, or alcohol, take it to the emergency vet immediately.

If your dog seems lethargic you should take its body temperature. Normal body temperature for dogs ranges between 101 and 102 degrees. If your dog’s temperature is noticeably outside these ranges you need to seek immediate medical attention.

Abnormal and loud cries may indicate your dog is suffering from severe pain even if there are no external symptoms.

Irregular and excessive coughing can be a sign of an infection or possible problems with the trachea, or even the dog’s heart, and will require immediate attention.

A bloated abdomen may indicate serious abdominal trouble and restricted blood flow and may be accompanied by unusual vomiting. If left untreated, this condition can lead to death.

If your dog has heavy or labored breathing it could be attributed to overheating or a respiratory problem, but also could be caused by stress or obesity.

Another serious pet emergency needing a vet visit, is a seizure or unconsciousness. If this happens to your dog, take it to the pet hospital immediately.

To save yourself a needless and costly emergency trip to the vet, call the vet first and describe your dog’s symptoms before going to the pet hospital. The vet may recommend a regular scheduled appointment if he or she doesn’t think the dog’s problem is too serious.

 

Why Dogs Vomit Blood

When a dog vomits blood it is suffering from a condition known as hematemesis. Hematemesis could be a temporary condition or a sign of chronic gastrointestinal illness.

The most common reasons why dogs vomit blood are: (1) a small amount of bright red blood indicating an injury in the mouth or throat, (2) a significant amount of dark, clotted blood indicating a serious gastrointestinal condition.

Some symptoms that may accompany a dog’s vomiting of blood include: rapid weight loss, bloating, excessive thirst (this can also be a symptom of diabetes in a dog), or darkened stools.

There are some acute illnesses a vet will need to test for and exclude before the possibility of a chronic condition can be diagnosed. These include poisoning of the animal, swallowing of a foreign object, parasites in the gastrointestinal tract, or bad reactions to prescribed medications.

There are some serious chronic gastrointestinal illnesses and diseases than can also cause a dog to vomit blood, including kidney disease, tumors, bowel obstructions, or liver disease.

When a dog vomits blood, it should be considered just as serious as if it were a human vomiting blood. A responsible pet owner will call their vet for an emergency visit should their dog begin vomiting blood.

Don’t take a chance that it’s nothing serious or that the problem will go away on its own. Your pet deserves better treatment than that.

Car Sickness in Dogs

Many dogs, regardless of breed, can experience carsickness on either short or long trips because they are not able to adjust to the shifting movements and varying speed of your vehicle when riding in your car or truck. Sometimes even a smooth ride on a relatively calm auto trip can upset a dog’s delicate digestive system.

Car (or motion) sickness is caused by an over-stimulation of a dog’s inner ear and it can make a dog feel miserable. But did you know that stress can also make a dog carsick because many dogs associate car travel with an embedded memory, like an unpleasant trip to the vet or being left at a kennel overnight or for a longer period of time where they experienced separation anxiety. Also, if a dog is young and has ever been frightened by a noisy truck or car, he may become stressed when experiencing the same situation while traveling in your vehicle.

The most obvious symptom of car or motion sickness is vomiting. Your dog may also pant more rapidly than usual, salivate, or pace nervously by your car before you even load him into it. If your dog exhibits behavior like this before you even start the engine, it’s likely he’s not going to enjoy the ride and there’s a good chance he’ll get carsick.

Most dogs eventually outgrow motion-induced carsickness, but if you find that your pet is still having a particularly hard time traveling in your car, try using a natural supplement such as Calming Soft Chews from DogsHealth.com. These specially formulated chews have high potency natural ingredients that are properly formulated for optimal results. These chews will help your dog relax whether traveling or staying at home. Calming Soft Chews help with separation anxiety, nervousness, and pacing. They are a safer solution than over-the-counter products that can cause drowsiness in your pet.

You can also prepare your dog for traveling by car if you do not give him any food or water just before you leave on a trip. A dog will travel better if you give him just half or a fourth of his usual serving of food before you leave. Make plenty of rest stops if you notice your dog exhibiting any of the signs of car sickness. You may need to stop occasionally and take him on a short walk, or a little longer walk if he seems unusually stressed. This will give him an opportunity to walk off the stress.

If you have found other useful ways to handle car sickness in your dog, please feel free to share that with our other readers. They would appreciate it.