If you have ever attended puppy school at our clinic you will know that Lauren is a very knowledgeable and dedicated teacher and nurse. Anything she notices that may be a concern with your puppy she will point out and have the Veterinarian take a look at. In the last few months we have had two puppies come through her classes with signs of early hip issues or hip dysplasia. In both cases the puppies were checked out by our Vets and referred on to a specialist centre for more in depth X-rays and analysis.
Most people might assume that hip issues are only a problem in older pets, however signs may be noticed as early as 4-6 weeks of age. Some breeds are more prone to hip dysplasia and this is important to know when getting a puppy. These breeds include Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Labradors and other large breed dogs to name a few. If you are buying one of these breeds it is important to ask about the puppies parents and whether they have been X-rayed and had their hips 'scored'. This 'scoring' is an indication of how healthy the dogs hips are and a good basis for any genetic hip problems.
Of course it is not only genetics which determine a dog's likelihood of hip dysplasia; diet, exercise and weight also play a factor. It is important as puppies to feed them food specifically made for puppies. Just as important, if you have a large breed dog such as the ones noted above, feeding a large breed puppy diet is essential. Another way to help prevent hip issues is to avoid excessive exercise while a puppy is still growing. Obviously we need to exercise our puppies, however, try to avoid marathon running sessions, running beside bikes and repetitive chasing.
Some symptoms to look out for in your dog are hind leg lameness, an abnormal gait, swaying in the hind quarters and difficulty or reluctance to get up and down. If you notice any of these symptoms or have any concerns or questions please do not hesitate to contact the clinic or make an appointment.
Luckily for the two pups in our case nothing serious was discovered at the referral centre. At this stage, they will be kept on a diet of high quality puppy food, maintain a healthy weight, avoid excessive exercise while still growing and they will be monitored for the remainder of their lives.
For more information on hip dysplasia, click here.