A clinical case of dysplasia in dogs | Vets & Clinics

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A clinical case of dysplasia in dogs

Hip dysplasia is when the hip joint has fully developed but in an abnormal manner.

Veterinary medicine and care

Dogs with dysplasia present a poor congruence between the femoral head and the acetabulum. This may be due to:

  • An underdeveloped acetabulum
  • Incorrect acetabular orientation
  • Incorrect femoral head orientation

The result is coxofemoral laxity with consequent joint instability, leading to the development of osteoarthritis.

Dysplasia in dogs is a hereditary disease, so animals with this condition should not be used for breeding purposes.

Dysplasia in dogs is not a congenital problem. It is a multifactorial disease in which environmental factors, too much food and physical exercise, and the hereditary component all play a role in the onset of hip dysplasia.

It generally affects large breeds, but some small dogs, such as Cavalier King Charles, are also affected. Both hips are compromised in 90% of cases.

Dogs with dysplasia manifest a variety of clinical signs:

  • Slight limp
  • Abnormal gait
  • Difficulty getting up
  • Difficulty climbing stairs

It is worth remembering that there is clear clinical–radiological dissociation.

The diagnosis is made by means of an X-ray with the animal sedated. Some clinical signs may assist with the diagnosis.

The Ortolani sign and Barden’s test may help in young animals. If they are positive, the dog most likely has dysplasia, while no conclusion can be formed from negative results.

In Spain, dysplasia in dogs is classified using the FCI (World Canine Organization) classification. It consists of the following grades:

  • A - No sign of hip dysplasia. Suitable for breeding.
  • B - Transition form. Suitable for breeding.
  • C - Mild hip dysplasia. A follow-up X-ray is recommended 8 months later.
  • D - Moderate hip dysplasia. Not suitable for breeding.
  • E - Severe hip dysplasia. Not suitable for breeding.

Once the dysplasia has been diagnosed, treatment will depend on the severity of the process and the animal’s age. It may be conservative or surgical.

Conservative treatment consists of analgesia, chondroprotectors and moderate exercise.Surgical treatment involves three approaches:

  • Hip osteotomy for acetabular dysplasia
  • Femoral osteotomy for femoral dysplasia
  • Excision or resection arthroplasty, reserved for adult animals.

Trauma-related problems in pets are sometimes a diagnostic challenge, because of both their wide differential diagnosis and the importance of a thorough and systematic physical examination. In the next educational post, we present the clinical case of Kira, a 7-year-old boxer, with a 3 week history of difficulty getting up and climbing stairs. Discover her final diagnosis through the anamnesis and various complementary tests. The clinical case was prepared by one of the best trauma specialists in Spain, Dr Josep Font, from the CANIS Veterinary Hospital in Girona.

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