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010. Hip and Joints




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This article is from the rec.pets.dogs: Breeding Your Dog, posted to rec.pets.dogs newsgroup. Maintained by Cindy Tittle Moore with numerous contributions by others.

010. Hip and Joints

There are a variety of joint problems found in most breeds. Toy breeds can have joint problems too; just because your breed is smaller doesn't mean you can figure you are free of hip dysplasia and be done with it. There are several problems that specifically affect smaller dogs!

* Hip dysplasia is probably the best known problem. This is a malformation or deterioration of the hip joint, so that the socket it sits in is too shallow to secure the head of the femur. As the condition progresses, arthritic changes begin to destroy the protective cartilage and the dog may experience severe pain if the condition is bad enough. Some dogs are asymptomatic, but still should not be bred. This condition primarily affects the medium-to-large breeds, but smaller breeds have been known to be affected, for example Cocker Spaniels and Shetland Sheepdogs can have this problem. To make sure your dog is free of hip dysplasia, you need to have the hips radiographed and then obtain an expert analysis of the xrays. Your vet isn't necessarily the one to do this! In the US, you would mail the xrays to the Orthopedic Foundation of Animals and wait several weeks for their evaluation. In Canada, Europe and Britain, there are equivalent programs, but all differ in the type of certification and age at which they will certify; some organizations certify after one year of age, others certify after two years of age.

* Osteochondrosis Dessicans (OCD) is an elbow joint problem. A bone spur or a flake wears away at the joint which becomes stiff and painful. Xray evaluations of these joints are also needed. Many breeds that are prone to hip dysplasia may also have OCD.

* Patellar Luxation is a problem affecting the kneecaps. Smaller dogs are more prone to this problem than larger ones are. The kneecap will slide out of place and lock the leg straight. Diagnosis is fairly straightforward and surgery can correct the problem, but no dog with patellar luxation should be bred as this is also an hereditary condition.

There are a few other types of problems, affecting other joints like the hocks, or affecting the spine, that you should be aware of in some breeds. This is only an overview to give you an idea of what kinds of problems are out there. Remember that joint problems, even if not hereditary, may make it problematic for a bitch to be bred. Pregnancy is hard on the joints and on the body in general and if she isn't in the best of physical health, it is much kinder not to breed her.

 

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