Canine hip dysplasia is a common orthopedic problem in Pit Bulls. The disease is caused by a loose hipbone to thighbone connection leading to hind joint pain and lameness ranging from mild to severely crippling.
Hip dysplasia is genetically transmitted but because multiple genes are involved, scientists have not been able to determine the pattern of inheritance.
Adding to the problem of causation is the complicated interplay between heredity and the environment. Environmental factors can have an influence on whether or not a particular dog or breed of dog will eventually develop hip dysplasia. Scientists who study canines still do not understand the interaction of heredity and environmental factors.
Although the disease disproportionately affects larger breed dogs, veterinarians have documented hip dysplasia in Pit Bulls and just about every other type of dog, including mixed breeds. There are some preventive measures that can be taken to reduce the odds of a dog developing hip dysplasia. Early detection and treatment can help a dog live a long and relatively comfortable life.
Remember the adage “The hipbone’s connected to the thighbone?”. Try to picture a dog’s hip joint as a ball fitting into a socket. The ball is the top of the thighbone which is coated with a smooth surface of cartilage. The femoral head fits into the hip’s socket and the entire ball-and-socket joint is surrounded and supported by muscles, ligaments, and lubricating synovial fluid.
During the growth spurt from birth to 60 days, the muscles and connective tissue of a puppy prone to hip dysplasia – unlike a normal puppy – cannot keep the same growth pace as the faster growing bones. The resulting looseness of the joint causes abnormal wear on the cartilage that lines the femoral head. As the cartilage deteriorates, hip dysplasia or arthritis often sets in, sometimes both simultaneously. Arthritis is basically an abortive attempt by the body to stabilize the joint by adding bone.
Although pain and restricted range of motion are symptoms of hip dysplasia, other signs may depend on the age of the dog and the degree of arthritis present. Young dysplastic dogs often move both back legs simultaneously in a “bunny hop” gait. On the other hand, some younger dogs whose X-rays show evidence of hip dysplasia are able to maintain normal mobility and will show signs of hip dysplasia only after they grow older and develop arthritis.
Symptoms of hip dysplasia include moving more slowly, difficulty in getting up or lying down, reluctance to walk, jump or play, refusing to use stairs or get into the car, muscle atrophy, limping, yelping when touched, changes in appetite, and personality changes. Both older and younger dogs suffering from hip dysplasia feel the most discomfort in cold, damp weather.
Pit Bulls who develop hip dysplasia or arthritis suffer from pain and stiffness in their joints which greatly diminishes their ability to live a quality life and remain active.
When a Pit Bull is diagnosed with hip dysplasia and the choices for treatment seem limited to expensive surgery or questionable drugs, I recommend you begin treating your dog with Winston’s Joint System, an all-natural formula developed by a Naturopathic Doctor to heal his own beloved dog. This proven formula has been giving relief from pain and stiffness to all breeds and ages of dogs for more than 20 years.
Winston’s is a combination of three, totally-natural whole food supplements and contains no drugs. There are no side-effects because it’s just good whole food. There are no dosage problems because the dog’s body uses only what it needs.
Winston’s provides many of the raw materials essential for the synthesis of the joint-lubricating synovial fluid as well as the repair of articular cartilage and connective tissue. Within the first 30 days of treatment, dogs on Winston’s Joint System show noticeable and often remarkable improvement.
Although canine hip dysplasia (CHD) may remain unseen in some dogs, early detection is critical. The first step to determining whether a Pit Bull has hip dysplasia is through a careful physical examination by a veterinarian who will observe the dog as it sits, stands, and walks. This is the first measure to check for characteristic signs of hip dysplasia such as a side-to-side swinging gait, lameness, and arched back which is caused by shifting weight forward, or the presence of overdeveloped front-leg and shoulder muscles.
The veterinarian will move the dog’s hip joint to assess its range of motion and check for pain with the joint extended. The vet will also listen for the “click” of the hip popping out of joint and for any grating sound of bone on bone that indicates cartilage loss.
Weight loss and moderate exercise, can also help alleviate pain and inflammation in and around the joint. The heavier the dog, the greater the forces acting on the joints.
When choosing which activities are appropriate for a Pit Bull suffering from hip dysplasia, take into account the dog’s physical condition and pain threshold, and compromise between complete exercise restriction and unlimited physical activity. Complete restriction is inadvisable because it adds to a dog’s pain and stiffness. Determine an appropriate activity level and help the dog stick to it.
A dog’s stomach is not quite as robust as a human’s, so avoid long-term use of aspirin which can cause vomiting and internal bleeding. Mega-doses of vitamin C are also not effective at preventing or even helping hip dysplasia, and supplementing a dog’s diet with calcium can actually exacerbate the disease. Because of potential toxicity and side–effects, veterinarians rarely prescribe medications containing acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or corticosteroids for hip dysplasia.
Although genes play a big role in the development of canine hip dysplasia, not everything about the disease is hereditary. Evidence suggests that even dogs genetically predisposed to the disease can escape its worst effects if breeders and owners control rapid growth and weight gain during puppy hood, thereby increasing the chance that muscles, connective tissues, and hip joint bones will develop at the same rate.
Studies show that puppies fed a high-calorie diet grow faster than their litter mates on a low-calorie diet. Research also shows that puppies with constant access to food have more hip-joint laxity at 30 weeks and a higher incidence of hip dysplasia at 2 years than their counterparts who eat 25 percent less food on a restricted feeding schedule. Feeding a puppy a controlled, balanced diet is probably the best way to manage its growth.
Although veterinary science is still searching for definitive answers about how canine hip dysplasia develops, a diagnosis of the disease in a dog is not the end of the world. Loving owners, working with their veterinarians, can usually help dogs with unstable hipbone-thighbone connections cope in relative comfort. And in the process, owners can enhance their relationship with their loving companion.