Many dog owners have already heard of this pathology without always fully understanding its meaning … confusion or imprecision are often even associated with it. This article will help you better understand dog dysplasia which mainly affects large dogs. And it can compromise their mobility, sometimes up to severe disability.
Dysplasia, what is it?
Etymologically, dys – expresses an idea of difficulty, and – plasia (-flatis in ancient Greek) that of the action of shaping, of modeling. Related to the dog, dysplasia corresponds to a poor conformation of one or more bone joints; it occurs during the embryonic period or after birth. The dysplasia can affect any joint can affect. But there are 3 main ones in dogs: the shoulder, the elbow and the hip.
Which dogs are affected by dysplasia?
In absolute terms, all dogs can suffer from dysplasia . However, mostly large breed dogs can affect. For example, nearly 60% of Cane Corso breed dogs have hip dysplasia. There is no established sex predisposition, but the hereditary nature of this disease is no longer in dispute. Thus, a dog resulting from a breeding in which the breeders recognizes high-grade dysplastic. It has a high probability of being dysplastic himself… and conversely, uninjured parents give their puppies a high probability of not suffering from it.
However, this genetic defect can compensate with a favorable environmental context. And thus the environment make it possible to erase or reduce it. Conversely, a poor quality of food or unsuitable physical activity during the puppy’s growth are factors favoring the clinical expression of dysplasia.
How do I know if my dog is dysplastic?
First of all, it is important to distinguish on the one hand, the diagnosis of dysplasia. And on the other hand, the symptoms affecting the musculoskeletal system. Indeed a dog who limps does not necessarily mean that he is dysplastic. And, a dysplastic dog may not present any orthopedic symptoms.
Ainsi, il apparaît deux stratégies dans la démarche pour savoir si votre chien est atteint de dysplasie : le dépistage précoce d’une part, et la suspicion clinique d’autre part.
Le dépistage doit être envisagé dès les premiers mois de vie pour tous les chiens de grande race (plus de 20 kg), ainsi que pour tous les chiens ayant des parents diagnostiqués dysplasique ou souffrant de perte de mobilité. Du diagnostic précoce dépendra le potentiel de récupération du chiot et le pronostic ambulatoire de celui-ci plus tardivement à l’âge adulte.
As for clinical suspicion, it is based on the observation of the orthopedic and general symptoms of the dog. These symptoms may appear throughout the life of the animal, from 5 months of age up to more than 10 years. A slight lameness, reluctance to walk, loss of shape, a modified gait, an unconventional sitting or lying position… are all good reasons to ask yourself this question and talk to your veterinarian.
Only a veterinarian can make a sure diagnosis of dysplasia. A breeder or a salesperson in a pet store is not able (medical and technical) to tell you if a puppy he has given you is free from dysplasia (advanced commercial argument); always cast doubt on a too categorical speech on this disease.
Rigorous clinical and orthopedic examination
In order to diagnose dysplasia, your veterinarian performs a rigorous clinical and orthopedic examination. Pain during hyperextension or hyperflexion of the shoulder, elbow and hips will generally observe; crackles may also feel during these manipulations; in the case of the hips, joint laxity is evident, which means that the femoral head may partially emerge from the acetabular cavity.
These clinical elements must confirm by imaging examinations performed under general anesthesia. Indeed, the radiographic images are taken under potentially painful physical constraint, in order to show possible osteo-cartilaginous lesions, problems of joint congruence, or even, in the case of the hips, to create a subluxation of these. In rare cases, more extensive imaging tests may be indicated, such as a CT scan or arthroscopy.
These examinations make it possible to give a grade to dysplasia (generally from A for a good conformation, to E for severe signs of dysplasia… but there are other scoring systems). The dog must be over one year of age for a legal radio, and this radio must be interpreted by an official reader.
My dog is dysplastic, what should I do?
If your dog has been detected early enough, certain environmental and hygienic measures will improve the prognosis. It is particularly in the context of hip dysplasia. The care should take to put the animal in a suitable environment during the first 2 years of life, and more particularly before its 5 months; a free, single-storey living space with a non-slippery and uneven floor will recommend. Regular but not very intense physical activity should control. To this must add dietary measures: a good quality diet without excess energy allows to avoid too rapid growth.
Finally, depending on the age of the dog, the type of dysplasia and its grade is important. There are possibilities for preventive or corrective surgery, including joint prosthesis.
On the other hand, if your dog is already showing symptoms and surgery cannot consider, conservative treatment should quickly put in place. Indeed, dysplasia promotes osteoarthritis, a degenerative and irreversible process of the articular cartilages. This treatment is based on several fundamental aspects:
- Manage pain gradually and as needed throughout your dog’s life
- Dietary measures : low-calorie food and food supplements
- Hygienic measures : weight loss with the objective of a weight lower than the healthy weight, limitation in frequency and intensity of activity.
- Physiotherapy : muscle strengthening, rehabilitation, balneotherapy …
- Soft and alternative medicine : osteopathy, homeopathy, phytotherapy, acupuncture … according to the owner’s sensitivity
The objective of this treatment is not a “cure”. But an acceptable comfort of life for the animal and its owner, before arriving at a situation of severe handicap. It often and precisely at the origin of a decision euthanasia.