Sarah, our 9 month old cinnamon colored lab, was just diagnosed with hip dysplasia last Friday. I had our vet x-ray her hips while she was in there for her spay. Since we adopted her when she was about 2 1/2 months old, she just always had a sway to her hips that our other lab, Madison, never had. Last week was when she just really started showing signs that things weren't right. She'd really favor the left side (which on the x-rays is just a little worse than the right), would whimper during her naps and keep moving around trying to get comfortable. For now, our vet wants to see Sarah on a special diet... Hills Prescription Diet j/d formula. I know that's probably not the best to have her on... I remember reading different opinions on it in the past. We'd been feeding Nutro Natural Choice to both girls.. Madison will continue on that. As for exercise.... I know our vet said to not take her out and go running (which we don't) or to have her chase a lot of balls (which she doesn't do, lol). What would you recommend to help her? Would nice leisurly walks, close to home, help her? With it being so cold here now, it's hard to figure out what to do. And the cold affects her hips. I also read online somewhere about massaging her hips.... anyone try this?
Thanks for any advice you can give us.
Walks are good, swimming is great, though that sounds like it's not an option right now due to the cold (I'm assuming most water is or will be frozen over). Walking uphill is good too, it helps build those muscles around the hip to control the laxity of the joint.
Supplements like glucosamine, chondroitin, and hyaluronic acid can be helpful. The studies are mixed with glucosamine and chondroitin. Some show they help with pain and reduce the degeneration of cartilage. Others show they're of not help. I have a dysplastic dog and I give him 1,500 mg of glucosamine and 1,200 mg of chondroitin per day (Cosequin DS). It's very safe with no side effects, so I find the potential benefits are worth the negligible risk of giving it. Have you seen an ortho vet? If not, I'd highly recommend seeing one. So many times people are told their dog has HD only to find out they do not. Even if she does, an ortho vet will be able to give you lots of advice on supplements, exercises, and even surgical remedies should they become necessary.
I know when I first found out Jes had hip dysplasia I was devastated. That was five years ago and he's just as normal as any other dog and completely pain free. It's not necessarily a death sentence. About the only thing I can't do is take him on runs with me. You can search "hip dysplasia" on this site and you'll find several threads about people's experiences with hip dysplasia.
There needs to be a balance between too much exercise and too little. Just as bad as running them is letting them set around. That movement increases blood flow and will get those supplements into the joints. The cold shouldn't bother be a concern unless it's bitter cold as Labs are bred to deal with the cold. It's usually more of a limitation on us than them.
I've heard that swimming is good.. unfortunately, around here there's just no place to take her right now.
I've started both girls on supplements, will have to look at the mg again. As far as I know, there's no ortho vet around here... I"d have to do a search on the net to find the closest one. Our vet just showed me the x-ray and explained what I was seeing. He said the top of the femur should sit in the joint like 90%, Sarah's is about 20%. He also said she'd be a prime canidate for arthritis too. Before her spay, we did do 6 days of rimadyl.. they gave us a sample bottle to try.
We keep telling Sarah she's supposed to make her coat thicker... she's still real sleak looking. She'll go outside and just shiver like she thinks she's going to freeze to death. :
I would have her hips evaluated by a specialist, just to be certain of the diagnosis before I went too far into this.
At the age your girl is at, it could be a variety of different things, and often our wonderful general practice vets just make educated guesses.
Do you have the X ray film? Was positioning perfect? Was she under general sedation (which provides more lax joints then not, which is not preferable when getting good films).
All these things need to be answered.
I would second seeing a specialist, general vets are great for general things - something like CHD, while in no way life-threatening per se, will alter the life of your lab (activity and weight and supplement wise). My Jake was diagnosed as "severely dysplastic" at 4 months of age by a vet who saw him at an overnight emergency clinic (he ate a pin - doofus!).
We took him to NC State Veterinary Hospital and had PennHIP films taken (I would highly reccommend these over OFA films - as PennHIP can give you a more precise idea of exactly how "poor" or "good" or "fair" your dog's hips happen to be) and his scores came back in the 80th percentile - better than average hips : I was glad we knew though, as now I know I can run with him as much as he wants, etc.
If there's not a teaching hospital near you, you can find lists of orthopedic specialists here:
Vets that are certified to do PennHIP evaluations:
Good luck! And like Nick said, lots of dogs live very healthy, happy lives with CHD Your girl is lucky to have such a good family to notice her hurting and take care of her!
Only after the last tree has been cut down, only after the last river has been poisoned, only after the last fish has been caught, only then will you find that money cannot be eaten. - Cree prophecy
I'd put her on MSM, ~2000mg a day-- along w/ glucosamine. I had a choc w/ HD and the MSM was the ticket for her. Works great for me too. And I 2nd finding a good vet. -Anne
WindyCanyon Girls, August 2014
I respect Nick's advice and since he's been there and done that, I suggest you follow his suggestions.For now, our vet wants to see Sarah on a special diet... Hills Prescription Diet j/d formula. I know that's probably not the best to have her on... I remember reading different opinions on it in the past. We'd been feeding Nutro Natural Choice to both girls.. Madison will continue on that. As for exercise.... I know our vet said to not take her out and go running (which we don't) or to have her chase a lot of balls (which she doesn't do, lol). What would you recommend to help her?
I'm also a BIG believer in using Schools/Colleges of VetMed -- or other highly qualified specialists -- to check on local vet's opinions (or to replace them). We do ALL of our vet visits at KSU's CVM Teaching Hospital and, while they're not perfect or always right, they beat the local results.
Hill's Science Diet has a poor rep on this forum, IMO, primarily because some formulas use grains (corn/wheat, etc.) and because SD continued using some food preservatives a year or more after most other companies stopped using those because they slightly increased the probability of cancer.
I do not feed Hill's SD, BUT when Puff has a medical problem, I've never hesitated to use their P/D (Prescription Diet) when they're prescribed. (She needed Hill's P/D ID one episode)
Hill's has a VERY long history of researching and testing specialized diets for various medical conditions as well as for various species of zoo animals.
We have a couple members in our weekly LabFest group who work at Hill's (a local company). One is a vet and one, Brian, is in I.T. Brian (with his Jessie BF) and I used to meet in the nature preserve early every morning for a couple years and together we founded our LabFest group.
But Jessie (7 y.o) has been having joint problems and limping so much they stopped coming. Brian started feeding Jessie Hill's P/D JD (for joints) and Jessie's response has been, IMO, very remarkable. Jessie's customary limp vanished; she's able to run with Puff (for several times) as she used to do 4-5 years ago before deciding 'that's enough.'
-- Don't "tar" Hill's PD with the same brush Hill's SD used to get and was somewhat deserved.
-- DO try Nick's recipe of G & C.
-- If at all possible, arrange a visit to a S/CVM Teaching Hospital or other experts to get expert advice.
-- If those don't give enough relief, by all means give the Hill's PD J/D a try.
Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]
Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
I just wanted to say that when Gabby was diagnosed with mild HD, I did the following:
- chiropractic adjustments really, really, really helped her. She was having problems when she got diagnosed, and chiropractic really has kept it under control.
- G/C (I specifically use Cosequin, because I used Cosequin with my Thoroughbreds).
- I did a round of Adequan injections (also did this with my Thoroughbreds- its much cheaper if you inject it yourself).
- keeping weight down and doing consistent exercise helps.
I looked at the Science Diet J/D (it was pushed hard by a second opinion vet that I consulted on Gabby's hips). While I understand that Bob may know one or two dogs that have good luck with, I will tell you why I shied away from it:
- the vet was selling a 20 pound bag for 40 dollars. I have a hard time when vets push something hard and end up making a lot of money on it long term (I understand that there is sometimes a need for a prescription food short-term- as an allergen eliminator, to settle upset tummies, etc).
- At that point, the g/c in the bag was much less than what I was supplementing Gabs. It was also cheaper for me to supplement her on my own than buy the food.
- I am not willing to feed my dog what I consider a substandard food long term- there are a LOT of grains and preservatives in this food and not a lot of meat. Ground maize,ground rice,flaxseed,chicken and turkey meal,soybean mill run,soybean meal,animal fat, digest,fish oil,dried whole egg,potassium chloride,L-carnitine,salt,calcium carbonate, taurine,dicalcium phosphate,L-tryptophan,L-lysine hydrochloride,vitamins and trace elements.Naturally preserved with mixed tocopherols,citric acid and rosemary extract.
I don't think this group is always right as they skew heavily towards grain-free, but I think this review is spot on.
I forgot to mention that, but that can be one of the most important things you can do. The more weight that bears on those hips, the quicker that joint will wear down. A lot of ortho vets actually believe in keeping them under their normal weight...not so much that they're malnourished or unhealthy, but a few pounds under what their "ideal" weight would be if they had normal hips.keeping weight down and doing consistent exercise helps.
I would put her on a raw diet or at least a natural homemade one.