Hip dysplasia is extremely breed dependent and occurs primarily in medium and large breed dogs. Breeds that are more commonly affected include the Newfoundland, Great Dane, Rottweilers, German Shepherds and Retrievers. It is a polygenetic (has more than one source) genetic condition, which can be influenced by reproductive status, age, body condition and conformation, diet, rapid growth rate and other environmental factors.
Clinical signs of dogs with Hip Dysplasia include stiffness of the hindlimbs, exercise intolerance and lameness. You may also find that your dog has difficulty rising from a sit or lay or climbing the stairs. Dogs with Hip Dysplasia often have a prominent hip sway or bunny hopping gait and muscle wastage over the gluteal, quadriceps and hamstring muscle groups and can be protective of the hip area.
There are 2 main treatment options for dogs with hip dysplasia.
The first of these is conservative management. For optimum results, a multimodal approach to management is required, including activity restriction/ modification, pain management, and weight loss. Hydrotherapy is a key component of conservative management of dogs with hip dysplasia. Our aim in these cases is to build up the hindlimb musculature, allowing support to the hip joints, as well as managing any secondary osteoarthritis. Additionally, as dogs with hip dysplasia often display several gait abnormalities, gait training in our underwater treadmill is beneficial to remove any compensatory behavior, therefore preventing secondary issues from developing.
The second is surgical intervention. There are numerous options in terms of surgical intervention, and these will be specifically chosen by your vets. In all cases of surgical intervention, hydrotherapy can help in recovery to rebuild any lost muscle mass and strength and in gait retraining. In cases of muscle weakness, hydrotherapy can be really beneficial to provide gentle non or partial weightbearing exercise that will allow your dog to get back on their feet and back to themselves more quickly!