Tag Archives: hip dysplasia

Hip screening with PennHIP

Animation of compress, distraction and extension xraysDr Helen is now certified to PennHIP screen dogs for hip dysplasia. Penn HIP screening identifies pups that are likely to develop hip dysplasia from as early as 16 weeks of age.  It is much more accurate than the old Hip Dysplasia Scheme.

Breeders of large breeds, like Labradors and German shepherds, and working dogs, like guide dogs, use PennHIP scoring for predicting which dogs will develop hip dysplasia . They can then choose their breeding stock based on accurate and precise information.

Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD) is an inherited disease which causes stiffness and pain and cripples dogs later in life. Breeding dogs with low PennHIP scores reduces the incidence of it in the breed population.

PennHIP screening includes three separate X-rays of the hips taken under a general anaesthetic by a certified PennHIP veterinarian. The X-rays are sent to the University of Pennsylvania who assess the amount of laxity in the hip joint and detect any arthritic changes.

The University of Pennsylvania issues a ranking based on the amount of hip laxity and the dog’s breed. A lower Distraction Index (DI) indicates that the hips are tight and selecting breeding dogs with a low DI will improve hips in that breed within a few generations.

If we identify a higher DI or signs of hip dysplasia we can advise owners on strategies to minimise the pain and progression of the disease. Affected dogs should be desexed to reduce the chance of passing the risk on.

Arthritis in Dogs

What Is Arthritis?
Arthritis is a painful inflammation of the joints. Older and overweight dogs risk developing arthritis, but larger breeds of dogs often develop arthritis at younger ages.

Long-term wear and tear of the joints, trauma, or joint abnormalities such as hip or elbow dysplasia and cruciate ligament disease cause arthritis. Infectious and immune mediated arthritis are much less common.

Arthritis erodes the cartilage of the joint, reduces and thins joint fluid, and causes bony tissue to grow around the joint.

How do I know if my pet has arthritis?

Watch out for:

  • reluctance to walk, lagging behind or giving up half-way home
  • reluctance to climb stairs, jump or play
  • lameness or hobbling
  • stiffness
  • difficulty rising from a resting position
  • licking joints

What can I do to help my pet?

Ramps make stairs or the climb into the car less challenging.

Warmth eases stiff joints. Keep arthritic pets inside in colder weather, and provide your dog with a warm coat, a well-insulated kennel and well-padded bed with a heat pad.

Keep and eye on your dog’s weight. Extra kilograms put unnecessary strain on joints. Talk to us about the best weight reduction plan if your dog is overweight.

Moderate exercise is important to the physical and mental health of all pets.  Too much exercise strains the joints but too little results in muscle wastage and more pressure on the joints. Gentle walks or swimming are ideal.


Arthritis has no cure, but we can improve your pet’s comfort and slow further joint deterioration. Treatment must be tailored to the individual and we often combine a number of treatment options.

Pentosan or cartrophen injections protect and repair joint cartilage, and stimulate the production of joint fluid.

Glucosamine and chondroitin formulated and tested for animals provide the raw materials for cartilage production as well as providing an anti-inflammatory action.

Pain medication known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) provide strong pain relief and give many arthritic pets a new lease of life. Your vet will prescribe the best one for your dog and discuss administration and possible side-effects. Never try your own arthritis drugs on your pet as some cause irreversible damage to pets’ kidneys and livers.

Some pets respond very well to acupuncture treatments.

Most owners report that their pets have a new lease of life on their individually-tailored arthritis treatment. They enjoy their walks and activity, want to play more and are happier members of the family. Talk to your vet about the best treatment plan to suit your pet.