Hip problems are more prevalent in certain breeds and, contrary to what most people believe, they are not necessarily linked to old age. Certain contributing factors have been known to aggravate the problem, including inbreeding by some indiscriminate breeders, an unbalanced diet, incorrect treats, or even old injuries that come back to haunt them.
Hip dysplasia in dogs is a deformity of the hip and it is one of the most common hip problems in dogs. The hip joint is made up of a ball and a socket and, in a normal hip joint, the ball sits snugly in the socket, held in place by various ligaments and the muscles in the area.
He battles to get up
If, when your dog has been lying down, he battles to get up, he may well have hip problems, especially if his first few steps appear stiff, and he seems to battle to “get into his stride”; there is a good chance he has some sort of hip problems. There are two possible sources of pain, being arthritis and hip dysplasia.
Arthritis is a degenerative disease that affects humans too and is treatable, but not curable. You can manage his pain by getting anti-inflammatories from your vet, but ensure that he only has them after meals, as taking them on an empty tummy can cause havoc with the gastrointestinal tract, as well as the liver and kidneys.
She seems slow and a bit “off-balance”
If you notice your dog is walking substantially slower than she used to, or that her leg movement seems uneven or the back legs don’t seem to move uniformly, she may well have hip dysplasia. The ball may have dislocated, affecting the way the legs “swing.” She may also favor one leg over the other because of pain.
She may be in a lot more pain than you realize because animals don’t express pain the same way humans do. This is especially true when pain increases over time. It slowly just becomes part of their everyday lives.
By the time we do have them looked at, we come to the awful realization that our beloved pet has been in pain for months or years, without giving us any clues. Watch out for a limp or an apparent to “leaning” over to one side, a bit like a ship listing to one side.
He Suddenly seems to prefer to sleep downstairs
If your Rover has always slept upstairs in your room but suddenly seems to be choosing to stay downstairs, there is a good chance it is because his hips are too painful to allow him to climb the stairs.
This will also be evident if he suddenly hesitates to jump down from the pick-up, even when you get to the beach or to jump into it when you are heading there. These slight changes in behavior can be indicative of pain in the hips (or shoulders) and if they are noticeable to you, chances are they are causing him a fair amount of pain.
Her rump seems tender to the touch
If Sheba is suddenly reluctant to have you pet her rear end, over the hips and towards her tail, she quite likely has a fair amount of inflammation in the area. The thing with our beloved Canine family members is they cannot tell us about the pain, they just deal with it.
Just like arthritis in humans, it can become inflamed enough to be tender to the touch, so too can your pet’s hips, legs, knees, or shoulders. This amount of pain always warrants a visit to the vet, who can prescribe medications to help with the inflammation and settle the pain.
He sporadically favors one back leg
This must be one of the most frustrating issues for dog lovers. One moment, he is walking perfectly. The next, for no reason, he is lifting one back foot off the ground and refusing to place weight on it.
You gently run your hands over the entire hip, leg, knee and foot; nothing: no flinching, no yelping, no sign of any sort of pain. The next time he trots across the living room, he does so on all four feet again and you start wondering if he has a phantom pain!
This sporadic pain can be caused by a patella (kneecap) that is not following the correct “line,” so that every now and then, it “freezes” into the incorrect position. While it lasts, it is very uncomfortable, but ten minutes later, the patella has popped back on track again, and Fido is running around like nothing ever bothered him. This particular diagnosis can only be made by your veterinarian, as he or she will know exactly where and how to palpate to find the errant patella.