FACTS & THOUGHTS ON CANINE HIP DYSPLASIA – THINGS TO PONDER
Please, read this for those with labradors under 24 months old.
With the incredible accumulation of data spanning over 50 years now, the consensus is Finally emerging that the causes of canine hip dysplasia are only mostly environmental and very little to do with genetics.
It has been found and is common knowledge, that one can mate two parents with OFA rated excellent hips and have offspring that are dysplastic; or mate two dysplastic parents and get pups with normal to excellent hips. How is this possible? Some scientists go as far as to say that hip dysplasia is predominantly a biomechanics process, with genes playing a very limited part.
All puppies are born with perfectly normal hips. (Remember, we are talking about puppies, also, who have parents with Good or Excellent hips)
Hip dysplasia is not a congenital defect; it is not present at birth. Multiple studies have demonstrated that all normal puppies are born with “perfect” hips; that is, they are “normal” for a newborn with no signs of dysplasia. The structures of the hip joint are cartilage at birth and only become bone as the puppy grows. If a puppy is going to develop hip dysplasia, the process begins shortly after birth. (the predisposition to dysplasia is where screening breeding stock comes in…the rest is all environmental)
Exercise is good and bad! Exercise strengthens the muscles of the legs and pelvis, and this will increase the stability of the hip joint. But not all exercise is created equal.
Puppies raised on slippery surfaces or with access to stairs when they are less than 3 months old have a higher risk of hip dysplasia,while those who are allowed off-lead exercise on soft, uneven ground (such as in a large yard or park) have a lower risk. Dogs born in the summer have a lower risk of hip dysplasia, presumably because they have more opportunity for exercise outdoors in the sunshine, fresh air and on dirt! On the other hand, dogs from 12-24 months old that regularly chase a ball or stick thrown by the owner have been found to have a higher risk of developing dysplastic hips .
The most critical period for proper growth and development of the hip in dogs is from birth to 8 weeks old, so the type of exercise the puppies are exposed to is most important during this time.