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Diagnosing Canine Hip Dysplasia

Whilst there are some signs that can be observed in dogs to give an indication that they are experiencing pain, and that there appears to be something structurally wrong by their movement, we cannot say that a dog has dysplastic hips by these observations alone.

There are differences of opinion on what age is correct to have your dog xray scored for hip dysplasia and there are various methods used. Many breeders have a PennHip score at around 12 months of age as a preliminary test and then again at 2 years, especially if they wish to certify them by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), who won't accept xrays at an age earlier than 2 years.

The hips are xrayed and then a scoring system applied to the result. Commonly and indeed I believe importantly, the first test your veterinarian will carry out is to extend your dogs hind legs backwards, one at a time, to test for pain as a dog with hip dysplasia most commonly experiences pain on extension of the leg. Whilst the dog is sedated for the xray, the veterinarian will also physically examine the hips and the range of movement in each hip which can give as much valuable information as the xray itself. One of these physical tests is to swivel the hind leg looking for a popping as the femoral head slips back to the centre of the acetabulum. The pop can be felt by the hand, and in some cases can actually be heard. The xray however is the definitie diagnosis.

Your dog will need to be sedated in order to obtain an accurate xray, as the dog must be positioned correctly for the radiograph and must remain completely still. Even an obedient dog is unable to do this without sedation as the position is not comfortable.

Following are some sample xray results showing degrees of canine hip dysplasia

xray demonstrating bilateral canine hip dysplasia - both sides of the hip are affected by the changes known as dysplastic changes which can cause pain and arthritis in the dog   xray of dogs hip joint showing loose insertion of femoral head into the acetabulum, canine hip dysplasia must always be diagnosed by an xray taken by your veterinarian and is a serious issue in all breeds of dogs, particularly in the large and giant breeds
Image provided by Joel Mills.severe dysplasia   xray showing loose hips without severe dysplasia


Links to article sections for Canine Hip Dysplasia:

Introduction What is canine hip dysplasia?
Normal hips description and xray image of normal dog hips
Abnormal / dysplastic hips understand what it means to say hips are abnormal or dysplastic
Symptoms of dysplasia signs to watch for in your dog
Diagnosing dysplasia how canine hip dysplasia is diagnosed
Interventions and management what are the treatment options for canine hip dysplasia?
Genetics of dysplasia is canine hip dysplasia inherited or caused by environment?
Breeding decisions how do I know if I should breed my dogs?
The AVA/ANKC hip dysplasia scoring scheme an explanation of how this scoring scheme is used
PennHIP® method an explanation of the PennHIP radiographic method

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