August 05, 2018

Diagnosing Hip Dysplasia in Puppies

Dogs that develop hip dysplasia develop it when they're juvenile; it’s a developmental condition in other words.


Since dogs develop hip dysplasia at a young age, Brian Beale, DVM, DACVS, orthopedic surgeon and head of education, training, and research at Gulf Coast Veterinary Specialists in Houston, Texas, gives veterinarians advice on when and how to test for this condition.

"Dogs that develop hip dysplasia develop it when they're juvenile; it’s a developmental condition in other words. So, the condition actually starts typically when they're very young—2, 3, 4 months of age—and then it can silently progress. Now there's varying degrees of pain associated with it. Many dogs with hip dysplasia as puppies have very little pain, and they may only display kind of a bunny hopping gait. So, their gait may be different from a normal dog, but they may not be outwardly limping. So, what we have to do is we have to palpate the hips, and the best time to do that is when the puppy is about 4 months of age when it’s getting its rabies shot, because they're all coming back to the hospital. So, it’s a great opportunity to assess the hips. 

So, we'll take the hip through a range of motion and do some palpation, and one of the tests would be a test called the ortolani test. What we're looking for is to demonstrate laxity in the hip joint, and if we perceive this, then we may have options for treating this and preventing the progression of arthritis in the hip."

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