The sad truth is that many large breed dogs, will at some time in their life suffer from Hip Dysplasia. This can be a painful and debilitating disease, where the hip joint doesn’t fit together properly causing bone deformities and mild to severe arthritis.
Even at the tender young age of 1 year our puppy, Ripley (a Sheppard Mastiff Cross) has been diagnosed with severe hip dysplasia. In most big dogs the cause of this is bad genes from poor breeding practices but it can also be caused by poor nutrition throughout the dog’s life.
The good news is that there are things you can do to try and prevent symptoms. We have started treating him with Cartophen injections. This is a series of injections, 1 a week for 4 weeks, then 1 every 3 months for the rest of his life. This is suppose to help “Inhibition of enzymes which break down cartilage in addition to stimulating natural inhibitors of these destructive enzymes. Stimulation of the production of lubricant and cartilage molecules by the joint cells. Improvement of the circulation of blood to the arthritic tissues, thus improving nutrition to the joint tissues. All this adds up to help repair and rejuvenate the damaged cartilage.” Read more here. We also have started him on a regimen of Glucosamine tablets that he will also be on for the rest of his life.
Then of course the most obvious thing you can do to prevent symptoms is watch your dogs weight! Always keep him trim and fit. This seems to be difficult for some people but really all you need to do is pay attention. Notice if your dog is getting a little chubby and take immediate action. Cut her dinner in half and see if she loses the pounds. If she still isn’t at a good weight after a month or two then cut breakfast in half as well! Don’t just go by what the bag of food says is the “optimal” quantity for your dog.
So far Ripley shows no obvious symptoms of the disease, and we caught it early so we have plenty of time for prevention. He is a trim dog, on a primarily raw food diet so it is easy to keep him in shape. I will update occasionally on his progress, especially if he starts to show symptoms, but for now he will live life to the fullest (without over-exercising!) and we will deal with the hard decisions as we reach them.