writes in about his 3-year old Labrador retriever named
Scout who has been having trouble jumping up into his
seat in Alanís truck and, at times, trouble getting up
after lying down for a while. Alan has heard about big
dogs having problems with their hips and wants to know
if Scout might have such a problem.
pain associated with the hip joints can cause the
symptoms Scout is displaying. The hip joints are a ball
and socket type of joint with the head of the upper rear
leg bone, the femur, being rounded like a ball fitting
into a concave round joint surface in the hip bone
called the ileum. The entire joint is surrounded by a
capsule. The articular surfaces, the areas within the
joint where bone surfaces would come together, are lined
by special, very smooth tissue called cartilage. There
is a somewhat thick clear fluid within the joint that
serves as a lubricant helping the joint to flex and
extend smoothly and prevent cartilage and bone damage as
the surfaces work against each other. This fluid is
loosely analogous to the oil inside a car engine, there
to prevent the metal surfaces from grinding against each
other in motion.
breed dogs do tend to have more problems associated with
their hip joints. One of the more common diseases we
recognize in these patients is hip dysplasia. There are
a lot of misconceptions about this disease, so Iíd
like to explain it a bit. The term itself, hip dysplasia,
does not represent hip pain or lameness in the hips. It
ostensibly means that the ball of the femur does not fit
properly into the socket of the ileum. This
inappropriate fit, over time, leads to wear in the joint
that causes arthritis leading to secondary joint
disease. Iíd also like to explain these terms.
means inflammation of a joint, in this case referring to
the hip joint. This inflammation is painful and is,
early on in the progression of hip dyslasia, the cause
of the symptoms. These include difficulty getting up and
sometimes lying down, difficulty jumping up and
eventually difficulty walking. As the arthritis
persists, the bone within the joint begins to respond.
In the case of bone, it basically has to respond to any
insult. It will either produce more bone or take away
bone. In the case of chronic arthritis from hip
dysplasia it usually produces more bone. This bone
production is often little spikes of bone in and around
the joint and is extremely painful as you might imagine.
It is this process that is termed secondary joint
disease. In summary, the whole process starts as hip
dyspalsia leading to arthritis that, over time, leads to
secondary joint disease.
dysplasia is generally considered to be a congenital
disease. This means there is a genetic component to the
process of hip development that leads to dysplasia. It
is a much more common problem with large breed dogs as
mentioned earlier, with certain large breeds being more
prone to the problem. German shepherds are most often
considered to show the highest breed incidence for hip
dysplasia but, again, it can occur in any dog.
in the hip joints can develop without dysplasia. This
normally occurs in older companions ó especially those
that have been highly active throughout their lives.
Again larger dogs are more prone, owing to a larger
amount of weight on the hip joints during exercise.
Correspondingly, obesity can greatly increase the
incidence of arthritis, not only in the hip joints, but
also in every joint in a companionís body.
focused on the hips as the likely source of Scoutís
problems, I will tell you there are other possible
causes, including arthritis in his spinal column that
may be producing his symptoms. Have him seen by your
veterinarian to determine his exact problem. Usually
with a thorough evaluation and with the use of
radiology, we can determine a definitive diagnosis.
There are multiple treatment options depending on that
diagnosis. Those will be discussed in upcoming articles.