Natural Remedies for Hip Dysplasia and Joint Pain in Large Breed Dogs
What Is Hip Dysplasia?
Hip dysplasia is a condition in which a dog's hip joint develops abnormally, so that the ball and socket don't fit together well. This causes the bones to rub against one another, resulting in considerable pain and a lot of damage to the bone and cartilage. In addition, many dogs with hip dysplasia go on to develop secondary arthritis as a result of their condition.
What Makes a Dog More Likely to Develop Hip Dysplasia?
Hip dysplasia is caused by a combination of genetic predisposition and environmental factors. Dogs without the genetic component don't develop the disease. However, many dogs can have the genetic predisposition, genotype, without actually developing the condition, phenotype. Therefore, dogs that stem from a lineage prone to hip dysplasia should not be bred. It is also important to check that the parents of any potential puppy purchase have been certified by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) as hip dysplasia free. Dogs with the genetic predisposition are more likely to develop hip dysplasia if they are overweight or if they grow too quickly as puppies.
What Can I Do to Help My Dog?
One of the most important things to address when dealing with hip dysplasia in dogs is weight control. The heavier the dog, the more pressure on the joints, and the quicker the progression of the disease. Many dogs with hip dysplasia can benefit immensely from slimming down, experiencing less pain and regaining mobility as a result. Regular, moderate exercise that doesn't further tax the joints (swimming is particularly good) coupled with a healthy diet can help dogs shed extra pounds. To keep puppies from gaining weight too quickly as they grow, a restricted calorie diet may be necessary. However, still use puppy food, rather than diet food for an adult dog, since food especially formulated for puppies will contain nutrients and minerals in the appropriate proportion to calorie content for a growing dog. If a puppy attains its full adult size at a slower pace, the likelihood of developing hip dysplasia is considerably reduced. If your dog has hip dysplasia, there are several things you can do to improve his quality of life. Try to keep your dog from engaging in exercise that is too strenuous and might further injure his joints, while still seeing to it that he is staying active. Make sure necessary areas are easily accessible to a disabled dog. Keeping his bedding warm and reducing drafts can help with the pain caused by the secondary arthritis. Discuss treatment options such as steroids or surgery with your veterinarian. If you do not like these options, there are also natural remedies available that can help your dog considerably.
What Natural Remedies Can Be Used to Treat Hip Dysplasia?
The most common natural remedies used to treat hip dysplasia are glucosamine and chondroitin. Glucosamine, one of the main constituents of cartilage, improves cartilage production by providing more raw material for the chondrocytes (the cells responsible for the production of cartilage) to work with. Chondroitin also helps in the production of cartilage, while simultaneously inhibiting certain enzymes that break down cartilage. These supplements have been proven to slow the course of the secondary arthritis seen in hip dysplasia, and some veterinarians claim that they can reverse the damage that's already occurred. However, these supplements are best if taken as a preventative measure. If you suspect your dog may be prone to hip dysplasia, it is advisable to start giving the supplements while he is still a puppy. Even if your dog is not likely to get hip dysplasia, giving these supplements can be beneficial. Many dogs develop osteoarthritis as they age, and regular supplementation with glucosamine and chondroitin can help prevent this progression. Some people claim that vitamin C protects against progressive joint diseases such as hip dysplasia, but so far, there are no studies to support this. If you choose to treat your dog with vitamin C, make sure to consult with your veterinarian first, since vitamin C can cause stomach upset, especially in puppies and younger dogs.
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