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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone,

I am going to be bringing home my first lab puppy on May 12th (he's only 2 weeks in the pic!) and I had some questions about hips. (I will ask the breeder and my vet as well, but I would like to get feedback from lab owners as well!)

I know that hip dysplasia is a hereditary condition commonly occurring in large dogs, but I have also heard/read that it can be worsened or even brought on by environmental factors (certain types of exercise, etc.)

His parents have been tested clear (made sure of that!) but can anyone tell me what I can do to hopefully avoid putting any unnecessary strain on his growing joints? any suggestions would be appreciated! Thank you!

- Kate

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Don't over exercise, no leashed running, avoid jumping if possible (they're pups, I'm not sure it's even possible to keep them from jumping - but don't encourage it or play games like frisbee that encourage jumping). Large breed puppy foods, or foods that contain an appropriate amount of calcium (1.5% or less) are also good. Keep the pup a healthy weight. Feeding too many calories encourages growth and is linked to HD.

Like you said, you can't really control the genes - those have already been determined. But studies have shown that calcium, total calorie intake, and exercise play big rolls in the severity of hip dysplasia. You may not be able to prevent it, but you may be able to lessen the severity if the genes are there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks, I'm so worried, I've heard so many horror stories about hips in all of the reading I've done!

I have also heard that large breed puppies need exercise in order to strengthen their muscles so that the muscles can help to support the growing/developing bones and joints, so I guess what I'm worried about most is finding the balance between enough/too much exercise, but I think I have a bit of a pre-puppy parent jitters, which isn't helping the mild hip-paranoia!

Thank you all for your suggestions!

p.s. these are the most recent pics of him that the breeder has posted, isn't he sooo cute!!??

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To add to what Nick said, I'm a big believer in using a Large Breed Puppy formula for Lab puppies. It's one of the 3 interacting major factors (genetics, stress/exercise/injury, and food (esp. Calcium & Phosporus ratios and levels).

On page 2 of the thread on "helpful advice," see my long post summarizing and citing studies on LBP formula research. (It begins with red printing at the head of the post.)

http://www.justlabradors.com/forum/index.php/topic,1694.0.html
 

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Four most important things 1) Keep your dog thin, not ideal, but thin 2) Keep your dog thin 3) No jogging, limit excersise to a degree, especially in the first 5 months of life (this does not mean - don't have fun. Take him out on nature walks...just don't go too long - divide up the play). You can run around and play with him though. No jogging means, don't take him running for a distance, but spurts for a ball and play are great to build muscle 4) Use a quality large breed puppy food.

That being, these are my opinions and even if you do all of this you easily could have a dog with hip issues as it is mainly genetic. But if you do the above and the dog has only mild issues, you may never notice a single thing as did everything you could to minimize trama - especially number 1 and 2. THere have been many studies about number 1 and 2 - it is the single most important thing for all dogs.
 

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One more thing to consider is when to spay/neuter. There has been some association with some joint problems in dogs that where altered at an early age. most people that are concerned about joints and such prefer to wait till after the pup stops growing before altering. The other thing to check for on a new puppy is elbow dysplasia. It is pretty common in labs so you may want to check the parents clearences. You can go to www.OFFA.org and do a search on the parents by either name and breed or by AKC number or other registery number and then you can get a pedigree of all the dogs related that are in their database. I also hear that PennHip (another organization that checks hips and does a better job) will have a database soon?

Kelly and Amber
 

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Just one word on the "thin", IMO it is not in a pups best interest to keep it "thin". Lean, yes, thin, no. Thin is not healthy. If the pup/dog falls ill and they are thin they have very little to fall back on.

I have also heard that large breed puppies need exercise in order to strengthen their muscles so that the muscles can help to support the growing/developing bones and joints, so I guess what I'm worried about most is finding the balance between enough/too much exercise,
You may well know about this but a good rule to follow is the '5 minute rule' -- that is 5 minutes of exercise per month of age. This ensures the pup is getting a good amount of exercise while, perhaps most importantly, protecting the growing joints. Of course, this rule is not set in stone but it is a great guideline. Following the rule for example, your 6 month old pup won't drop dead if instead of 30 minutes of exercise a day you do 40.

For the first 18 months, as others have said, you must take it easy. No forced exercise of any sort. Some of the better types of exercise for a young dog include free running, walking, playing with you or other dogs, retrieving and swimming. When they hit 2 years old you can build up to more strenuous activities if that is your goal. Longer hikes, jogging, maybe a bit of biking together.
 

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Just one word on the "thin", IMO it is not in a pups best interest to keep it "thin". Lean, yes, thin, no. Thin is not healthy. If the pup/dog falls ill and they are thin they have very little to fall back on.
Orthopedic vets (many) would disagree. There's a difference between thin and malnurished. Perhaps we're splitting hairs here and the difference is just what one defines thin or lean. We may be describing the same thing here, but I know Jes's ortho vet wanted me to keep him thin - weighing less than what he would if he had completely normal hips.
 

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I think we are all talking about the same thing- it's better for dogs to be on the light side.

But I would be very careful about trying to "diet" a puppy. I just don't think that's a good idea, especially for a new dog owner who is worried about the slightest remote possibility of his/her pup having HD.
 

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Orthopedic vets (many) would disagree. There's a difference between thin and malnurished. Perhaps we're splitting hairs here and the difference is just what one defines thin or lean. We may be describing the same thing here, but I know Jes's ortho vet wanted me to keep him thin - weighing less than what he would if he had completely normal hips.
Sure, but as you say, most of us have a different idea of what "thin" is.

http://www.dogchow.com/products/popup_body_condition.aspx

This chart is a popular point of reference. To me, my 'ideal' is the same 'ideal' as on the chart:

Ribs easily palpable, with minimal fat covering. Waist easily noted, viewed from above. Abdominal tuck evident.

Ribs palpable without excess fat covering. Waist observed behind ribs when viewed from above. Abdomen tucked up when viewed from side.


Likewise, my idea of "thin" is the same as the chart:

Ribs easily palpated and may be visible with no palpable fat. Tops of lumbar vertebrae visible. Pelvic bones becoming prominent. Obvious waist and abdominal tuck.

We probably mean the same thing Nick, but that is where I am coming from with the 'thin' angle. I think to the average person however, what is described as 'ideal' on the chart is too thin in their eyes. My dogs fit the 'ideal' on that chart but I get the "Don't you feed those dogs??" remarks often...mostly from owners of seriously overweight dogs.
 

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4 or 5 on that chart would be great, but most pet owners do not think that is ideal. If they saw a dog like that, they would say the dog is very skinny. For example, my dog. All vets (4 of them) say his condition is perfect, my parents and friend say, "wow, he looks too skinny".
 

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Posted on: Today at 07:20:44 PMPosted by: gerst001
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4 or 5 on that chart would be great, but most pet owners do not think that is ideal. If they saw a dog like that, they would say the dog is very skinny. For example, my dog. All vets (4 of them) say his condition is perfect, my parents and friend say, "wow, he looks too skinny".
I run into that same thing. My dog doesn't really fall anywhere in there. He is 8 months old, and I can feel his spine and hip bones fairly easily but not his ribs. I have to push through quite a bit of what I think is skin. Also, he has an obvious abdominal tuck. He is what I would call between a 3 and a 4 on the chart, however, he is FAR from malnourished. He has gained weight steadily and has plently of energy. He eats around 2 cups of Canidae per day plus 12-14 ounces raw. He FEELS like I am keeping him light, but he actually weighs in at around 72 pounds. Is it more important to keep them lean or to keep them light? I would think light would be beneficial, but I hardly think 72 pounds at jut 8 months is light, although he is definitely lean. ???
 

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Its important to be light for their size. So if your dog is 72 lbs and lean, they compared to other dogs with the same structure he is light.

So, IMO, if your dog is lean your dog is light. The lighter the dog, the less stress on joints.

I can't see ribs either, but its mainly because he hair is not super short like some dogs. I also can feel them if i run my hands down his side. The main thing I look for is the hour glass when looking down at the dog from above and the dog is standing.
 

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Great advice here.

The weight issue to me is a very big one. Also regular excersise, but not too much.

Ernie has serious H.D. At one year he weighed 60lbs. He was walked 2-3 days then no walking for 5. He jumped up and down stairs and in and out of a jeep. He was also neutered and 9 weeks. His owners weren't told how to care for a Lab. I think the first 18months is critical.

His parents hip scores were o.k.
 

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I run into that same thing. My dog doesn't really fall anywhere in there. He is 8 months old, and I can feel his spine and hip bones fairly easily but not his ribs. I have to push through quite a bit of what I think is skin. Also, he has an obvious abdominal tuck. He is what I would call between a 3 and a 4 on the chart, however, he is FAR from malnourished. He has gained weight steadily and has plently of energy. He eats around 2 cups of Canidae per day plus 12-14 ounces raw. He FEELS like I am keeping him light, but he actually weighs in at around 72 pounds. Is it more important to keep them lean or to keep them light? I would think light would be beneficial, but I hardly think 72 pounds at jut 8 months is light, although he is definitely lean.
I'd be concerned if he was a 3 on the chart especially as he is a growing young dog.

Although it's impossible to say for sure, if you are concerned you could post some pictures. One from above and one from the side.

Raw fed dogs tend to maintain a leaner body mass than kibble fed ones but they still should not be too thin.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
kassabella said:
Great advice here.

The weight issue to me is a very big one. Also regular excersise, but not too much.

Ernie has serious H.D. At one year he weighed 60lbs. He was walked 2-3 days then no walking for 5. He jumped up and down stairs and in and out of a jeep. He was also neutered and 9 weeks. His owners weren't told how to care for a Lab. I think the first 18months is critical.

His parents hip scores were o.k.
ohh jeez that is totally what scares me!!... Ok let me try to sum this up (I'm a list-oriented individual!)

Do:
5 min of exercise per months of age up to 18 months/2 years
free running exercise (retrieving, dog parks, beach, etc)
keep to an appropriate weight considering age (go by look of dog, not necessarily just by weight)
try to minimize jumping, leaping for things/onto or off of things

Don't:
let puppy become overweight
do any forced running/jogging
go for strenuous walks/hikes etc. (too far over time limit - see above)
let puppy jump, go up/down stairs

Is there anything else I should add? (to either column?)

also, how long should I carry him up and down stairs? (his daddy is 80 lbs... not that much less than what I weigh... if I have to carry him when he weighs that much or close to that I think I'll need to start another thread about fixing human backs!!)

Thanks so much guys for all of your advice, I really want to do right by this little guy, I haven't even met him yet but love him to bits already!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I forgot something!!

Do:
wait until he's mature to get him neutered (7-9 months, ish?)

if someone can let me know how long I should wait for that too It'd be great!
 

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I carried my dog till he was about 16-18 weeks up and down stairs...after that he was on his own and he had to and still does go up and down the 10 steps about 10 times/day to go outside, more when he was younger.

The 5 minute rule is not set in stone. If you want to take your dog at 6 months for a 45-60 minute walk/hike in nice cool weather - please do, just not every day is the point.

DO - Get your dog trained, join a puppy class, socialize your dog, bring friendly dogs you know to your house and the sessions/class may last more than 5 minutes/month and again, that is fine once in a while.

DO - Take them and getting them use to water early - don't force it, get in with them. Water excersise is the best there is - no impact.

At 10 months I started to let him jump into the SUV, but I still at 13 months still take him out. he has never jumped out of the back of the truck and he knows not to - a great safety precaution.

These are general rules to follow, if they bend here and there - they bend.

DO - HAVE FUN WITH THEM - that is why you are getting one, right!

I bent the general rules a little, my dog as OFA (prelim) Good Hips and Perfect Pennhip Scores (DI in both hips = 0.28). Hips problems are mostly genetic, you can however possibly reduce the effects/pain in the long run if your dog has it.
 
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