As anticipated in my previous blog on Spike’s Disease, hip dysplasia is another one of the few medical conditions that Borders are inclined to. We have been lucky so far, as Indy has never suffered displayed canine hip dysplasia symptoms so far. However, as it appears that Border Terriers are subject to hip dysplasia, I would like to share the basic facts I have learned so far about the disease, from symptoms to cause and how to treat it. I hope I shall be forgiven for, possibly far too often, not using the most commonly used medical terminology, but my aim is to say as I understand it, and I hope my ‘down to earth’ approach will make it easier for other dog owners to better get to grip with this condition.
So, what is hip dysplasia?
Like in humans, canine hip dysplasia (or CHD) is the mis-development of the hip joint, or the displacement of the femur bone head into the hip socket. This can happen in both puppies as well as later years of your dog’s life.
It is deemed that your dog will have been born healthy, but for some genetic inheritance, the hip socket may start developing incorrectly after a few weeks, starting causing pain in your dog’s joints, which may progress to an acute level. This is deemed to be genetically more commonly transmitted in Borders.
Now, don’t get me wrong, your dog is not necessarily going to suffer for hip dysplasia for being a Border. Nor is it going to be the end of the road for your dog if diagnosed with this condition. Hip dysplasia can be managed nowadays, so that with the correct veterinary intervention and with mobility aids your dog’s quality of life is not affected.
My dog is walking funny!!
Hip dysplasia in your dog manifests with the same signs of arthritis – you will notice stiffness your dog’s leg movements, as if he/she had painful joints and experienced difficulty in moving about. Like with Spike’s Disease, sometimes the hind legs will look lame and weak, as if your dog were drunk!!
Other signs may include your dog doing the bunny hop when running, i.e. bring up both hind legs at the same time and raising the hips higher above the level of their back, and showing signs of pain when touched in the pelvic area, and a change in behaviour when your dog is no longer prepared to climb stairs, to walk and to play.
There isn’t anything scarier, believe you me, than seeing your dog not to be able to function in the usual way anymore. But when that happens, the best thing is to make an urgent appointment with your vet, who will be able to establish the cause with a set of examinations or tests. Unlike with Spike’s Disease, it is deemed to be pretty easy to recognise hip dysplasia through physical exam, manipulation of hip and joint and some x-ray – although if x-rays are necessary, your dog will have to be put to temporary sleep under the effect of anaesthetics.
Why my Border?
Hip dysplasia can present in its first symptoms in dogs as young as pups. Likewise, you may never have noticed anything untoward about your dog’s way of walking, and then suddenly your dog starts showing lameness in the legs and stiffness in his/her joints in older age.
In passing, if this happens when your dog is older, many owners may not do much about it as putting it down to the nearly unavoidable arthritis – so a joint ache relief is believed to be all that is necessary to make your dog better. On the contrary however, it is advisable at any age of your dog always to have your hound examined by a vet, who will be able to confirm what the condition is and the best course of treatment.
So, why is hip dysplasia deemed to be more common in Border Terriers? The condition is transmitted through genes, therefore your dog may manifest symptoms early in life or later on – your dog may have carried the gene for the whole of their life, and a sudden movement may flare up the weakness in latter years.
But Borders are inclined to CHD particularly due to their longer and slender legs and the physical strain they naturally subject their limbs to. Borders are very agile by nature, and will never spare their limbs from an exerted run or from jumping up and down the stairs or from digging excitedly.
Add to that the fact that the gene has now been inherited for generations, and that will explain why Border are more prone to this medical condition than other breeds.
Remember, Borders are a strong resilient breed, and hip dysplasia is only one of the few health problems they may experience in their life time. Nevertheless, their resilience may make our job more difficult to detect whether they are in pain or not, as in order to please their family, Borders may well endure unnecessary pain without displaying any sign of discomfort.
My dog has been diagnosed with CHD, is he going to be alright?
The first thing I would like to stress out is that the fact that your dog has been diagnosed with CHD does not necessarily preclude that he/she may not be able to have a normal quality of life – and for a long life too!
In most cases the condition can be treated medically. Your vet is likely to prescribe a course of anti-inflammatory tablets, and may suggest rest as well as the right type of physical exercise, which may include physio-therapy and hydro-therapy. Your vet may also prescribe a diet to maintain your dog’s body weight to its lightest in order not to cause the joint to have to carry unnecessary weight.
In most severe cases, it is true that your vet may have to recur to surgery. This may include hip replacement, but other types of less invasive surgery procedures are meant to be equally successful in treating your dog.
My understanding is however that the condition may have ups and downs of severity in the course of your dog’s life, and with age it may invariably get worse. In many cases hip dysplasia also induces the development of osteoarthritis, and the combination of the two factors contributes to your dog experiencing more pain and more difficulty of movement. In many cases your vet may prescribe joint supplements for the rest of your dog’s life, and even after surgery good regular physio exercise may be required to ensure your dog’s joints do not further deteriorate.
My Indy’s and my review on items to benefit and improve older dogs’ quality of life, we recommend YuMove for a number of reasons. The main one is the fact that Indy has been taking these supplements for quite a while, and we have noticed a marked improvement on his agility levels – to the point that I firmly believe the addition of these supplements to the rest ‘ordered’ by the vet contributed to his full recovery from his back injury of a few months ago. Click here if you want to find out the beneficial effects of YuMove.
I hope to have been as informative as possible without having deterred any future dog owner from considering adopting or purchasing a Border Terrier. I shall never tire to reinforce that hip dysplasia is not as common as feared, and that Borders are one of the sturdiest and healthiest breeds recognised by The Kennel Club.
Nevertheless, if your dog, or Border even, has been affected by this condition, it would be grand to hear first hand from you, how you have managed through your dog’s condition, and how it has affected your dog and you and your family. I would be really grateful if you could leave your comment. I shall reply and acknowledge you promptly.