Rottweilers Hip Dysplasia

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Step #1: Educating yourself about the Rottweiler breed
Rottweilers Hip Dysplasia

What is Hip Dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia is a skeletal defect in dogs. In hip dysplasia, the ball portion (femoral head) of the hip is not securely seated in the socket portion (acetabulum). This condition is especially common in working and sporting breeds of dogs. Certain breeds are definitely predisposed.

Hip dysplasia is an inherited problem which is not usually present at birth. It develops within the first 6-8 months of life. The exact cause is unknown, but it is generally accepted that the condition is from the combined action of an unknown number of genes. Nutrition and environment are also believed to be contributing factors. Example: Excess calcium in the diet of a puppy food for large breed dogs, along with obesity, high protein and calorie diets, and a lack of or too much exercise.

Concerned dog breeders and veterinarians have tried to reduce the incidence of hip dysplasia through selective breeding. X-rays has been performed on potential breeding pairs in an effort to determine the status of the hip joints. Some progress has been made toward reducing the severity and incidence of canine hip dysplasia, but progress has been slow.

Hip dysplasia is defined as a biomechanical disease. That is, the muscles do not develop and reach maturity at the same rate as the bones. Since the hip depends on muscle power to be stable, it can pull apart and trigger a series of events resulting in hip dysplasia.

If a pup is so poorly developed that it cannot walk, then the demands of the musculoskeletal support system are greater than the strength of the surrounding musculature. The muscles and ligaments are unable to maintain the needed relationship between the femoral head and the acetabulum. This results in a partial or incomplete dislocation of the femoral head. The acetabulum is unable to develop properly if the femoral head is dislocated, and is shallower than normal when the pup reaches maturity. When the femoral head is dislocated, its cartilage covering is subjected to wear and tear. This eventually leads to a miss-shaped femoral head, and osteoarthritis or degenerative joint disease.

OFA Rating Chart
P
A
S
S
  Excellent A1
  Good A2
  Fair B1
---

  Borderline

B2

F
A
I
L

  Mild C1-2
  Moderate D1-2
  Severe E1-2

 

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FCI Rating Chart

. 1
  Normal A
. 2
. 1
  Transitional B
. 2
. 1
  Dysplastic C
. 2
. 1
  Dysplastic D
. 2
. 1
  Dysplastic E
. 2

The degree of hip dysplasia (mild, moderate, or severe) does not effect the signs exhibited by the affected dog. Signs may range from no symptoms to a pronounced disability. Symptoms can appear any time after 4 weeks of age, but are generally not detected, except in severe cases, until after 6 months of age.

Clinical Signs of Canine Hip Dysplasia (These signs often appear worse on cold damp days)

  • Lameness after prolonged exercise

  • A waddling or swaying gait

  • Morning stiffness

  • Difficulty in standing up

  • Reluctance to move

  • Change in temperament

  • Pain when moving the hip joints

  • Limping

Early clinical signs are caused by the stretching and tearing of the joint. This pain may disappear as scar tissue forms, and the puppy seems to get better. Unfortunately arthritis continues to get worse and eventually signs of pain appear again. Early treatment will slow or stop the development of arthritis.

The diagnosis of canine hip dysplasia is bases upon the dogs history, symptoms, a complete physical exam, and X-rays. X-rays are necessary to confirm hip dysplasia. They can show the shape and depth of the acetabulum, the shape contour and position of the femoral head, and the degenerative joint disease.

Different Hip Rating Levels

Normal Results (No Dysplasia)

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These are the x-rays of a dog with a normal pelvis (left photo). The diagram to the right explains why these hips are normal.

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On the right side of this normal pelvis we have outlined 2 important anatomical features. The "U" shaped appearance of the neck (outlined in white), and the full rounded appearance of the head (outlined in black), are normal. They indicate a full socket with a tight fit and no signs of secondary changes due to instability of the ball and socket joint.

Moderate Results (Does have Dysplasia)

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This dog has moderate changes that indicate it has hip dysplasia on the right side. The socket is not as rounded as it could be, and the head of the femur is slightly flattened. Also, the neck of the femur does not have the U shaped indentation that is normal. You can see this better on the close up views in the photos on the right.

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The arrow points to the thickening in the femoral neck in the abnormal right socket. You can also visualize the slightly flattened appearance of the head of the femur and the fact that it does not fit into the socket as tight as the normal hip marked left.

Severe Results (Severe Dysplasia)

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This is a case of severe hip dysplasia. The arrows point to the thickened femoral neck on each side along with the secondary arthritis occurring on the left side. Notice how flat the sockets are and the lack of rounded appearance of the femoral head. This dog is probably in pain and has a difficult time walking in the rear quarters.

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If left untreated the disease continues to progress, eventually causing a crippling lameness and severe pain. Correcting this problem at an early age might have prevented this.

Treatment Options

Hip dysplasia can be treated surgically, medically, or a combination of both. There is no cure for hip dysplasia, but with appropriate veterinary care affected dogs can live long, healthy, active lives.

A. Non-surgical treatments:

1. Enforced cage rest when the dog is experiencing discomfort
2. Mild analgesics
3. Anti-inflammatory drugs

B. Surgical treatments: (There are several surgical procedures that can be attempted in young dogs, and if the disease is not severe)

1. Cutting of the femur and/or the pelvis and repositioning the joint. This is recommended for dogs 6-12 months of age only.
2. Cutting the pectineus muscle. This is useful in relieving pain in certain cases, but has no effect upon the progression of the disease.
3. Removal of the femoral head and neck and formation of a "false joint" between the proximal femur and the pelvic musculature. Small and medium sized dogs usually do better with this procedure than larger dogs.
4. Total hip replacement. Although this procedure is expensive, many dogs are able to return to full activity.

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