A technical but very useful article from The Institute of Canine Biology 👇
1. All puppies are born with perfectly normal hips
2. The genes that cause hip dysplasia remain a mystery
3. Environmental factors are also important
4. Joint laxity is the primary cause of hip dysplasia
5. Controlling joint stability is key
6. Body weight is a MAJOR environmental factor
7. Exercise is good and bad
8. Nutrition is important
9. Early intervention is critical
10. We can dramatically reduce hip dysplasia now
Key points for me are:
Exercise strengthens the muscles of the legs and pelvis, and this will increase the stability of the hip joint. But all exercise is not created equal.
Puppies raised on slippery surfaces or with access to stairs when they are less than 3 months old have a higher risk of hip dysplasia,while those who are allowed off-lead exercise on soft, uneven ground (such as in a park) have a lower risk (Krontveit et al 2012). Dogs born in summer have a lower risk of hip dysplasia, presumably because they have more opportunity for exercise outdoors (Ktontveit et al 2012). On the other hand, dogs from 12-24 months old that regularly chase a ball or stick thrown by the owner have an higher risk of developing dysplastic hips (Sallander et al 2006).
The most critical period for proper growth and development of the hip in dogs is from birth to 8 weeks old, so the type of exercise the puppies are exposed to is most important during this time.
While puppies are growing rapidly, it is critically important to get their nutrition right.
Growing puppies need to eat enough to support growth but they should not be fat, because any extra weight can increase the risk of developing hip dysplasia (Hedhammar et al 1975, Kasstrom 1975). An additional problem is that puppies getting too much food could also consume too much of specific nutrients. Puppies provided a quality commercial puppy food that is fed in the proper amount will have a nutritionally balanced diet and should not receive any supplements. Dietary supplements, especially of calcium, are not only unnecessary but could cause serious problems. There is no evidence that supplemental protein or vitamins will reduce the risk of hip dysplasia (Kealy et al 1991, Nap et al 1991, Richardson & Zentek 1998).