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A "dog blog" about all breeds and issues of importance to people who value the dogs in their lives, with a special emphasis on Search and Rescue dogs, in particular the training of my Newfoundland Dogs

Saturday, June 25, 2005



MANHATTAN -- Many pet owners may be setting their dogs up for hip problems by feeding them too much, said James Hoskinson, associate professor at Kansas State University's College of Veterinary Medicine and board certified radiologist. He said canine hip problems are not uncommon and can often be avoided.

The two most common types of hip problems in dogs are hip dysplasia, which is caused by a combination of genetic and biological factors, and avascular necrosis of the femoral head, which is caused by purely genetic factors.

Hip dysplasia most often occurs in middle to large breed dogs, such as German shepherds, great Danes, St. Bernards and Labrador retrievers. It occurs when the head of the femur and the socket of the hip fail to develop properly, which can lead to degenerative hip disease and symptoms of arthritis. Hip dysplasia can be treated by either managing it medically, such as through prescribing aspirin or other anti-inflammatories, or by performing surgery. The surgery can range from making minor changes in the shape of the femur or by a hip replacement.

Avascular necrosis of the femoral head most often occurs in smaller or toy breeds of dogs, such as poodles, Pomeranians and Pekingese. When this occurs, the dogs lose blood supply to the head of the femur, which can lead to degenerative hip disease as well. Treatment often involves having the head of the dog's femur removed. Because of the dog's small size, most often it can still walk normally after surgery.

The severity of the problem may also influence the decision of what treatment to use. A mild case will usually be treated with medication and the more severe cases will usually be treated using surgery.

One of the most important factors in determining whether a dog will develop hip problems later in life has to do with nutritional factors. According to Hoskinson, keeping a dog on the proper diet and minimizing feeding can reduce the risk of developing hip problems.

James Roush, associate professor and section head of small animal surgery at K-State, said that a dog should not be obese, should have a visible waist, and its ribs should be felt but not seen. Owners should watch the caloric intake of their dog and make sure it is receiving the proper percentage of calcium in its diet. He says that most puppy foods contain 0.5 to 1.5 percent calcium, and that this is the ideal amount. Dog foods containing more than 3 percent calcium are more likely to lead to hip dysplasia or other skeletal problems. Roush says that the best way to insure that a dog is receiving the correct nutrition and quantity of food is to consult a veterinarian.........

Roush says that when buying a dog, the most important point to look at to increase your chances of having a dog free of hip problems is the parentage. If both parents are free of hip dysplasia, there is a better chance of their offspring not having hip problems.

If you see your dog limping after exercise; if it has a waddling gait (bunny hop); is having pain when getting up or down; is reluctant to move; or is protecting one side or is lame, contact your veterinarian.

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