Hip Dysplasia in Dogs: Improving The Odds For Your Puppy
In the past few years there have been many cases of canine hip dysplasia (CD) reported worldwide. CD is a hereditary condition affecting both humans and animals.
It causes joint deformities such as shortened or absent hips, elbow dysfunctions, and other problems. Most cases are inherited from parents, but some may develop spontaneously. CD is a common disease in companion animals and it affects puppies at birth, before they receive any vaccines or medications.
The symptoms of CD are similar to those of human hip dysplasia (HD). They include shortening of the femur (thigh bone), which leads to difficulty walking; shortened or absent patella (knee cap); and abnormal curvature of the knee joint.
Other symptoms may include lameness, poor posture, lack of energy and weight loss.
CD is a genetic disorder caused by mutations in certain genes. Mutations occur when DNA strands become damaged during cell division.
These defects cause abnormal structures called polypeptides to form instead of normal ones. Polypeptides are long chains of amino acids that perform specific functions within cells. Some examples include proteins involved in muscle contraction, blood clotting and immune system regulation.
The genes that code for these proteins are inherited from parents. Dogs with short or absent patella have one normal and one deformed allele of the gene that codes for type II collagen.
Also, dogs with a severely curved femur have two normal alleles of the gene FGF-RAP1, which is involved in bone and cartilage growth. The amount of CD in the population increases in areas where there is less genetic diversity. These areas include small islands and rural communities that do not have a diverse number of canine ancestors.
There are three theories on the origin of canine hip dysplasia: the genetic-only theory, the genetic-environmental theory and the multifactorial theory. The genetic-only theory claims that there is a major gene mutation that is solely responsible for causing CD.
The genetic-environmental theory states that multiple genes interacting with an abnormal environment cause CD. The multifactorial theory claims that multiple genes contribute to the disorder and that the condition is worsened by environmental factors.
In the past, veterinarians believed that hip dysplasia occurred only in large-breed dogs such as German Shepherds, St. Bernards and Newfoundlands.
Today, however, all breeds and even mixed breeds of dogs can develop the disease. It is the most common orthopaedic problem in dogs.
The only way to prevent CD is to not buy a puppy with the disease, but the only way to do this is to be very knowledgeable about hip dysplasia before getting a dog and finding out if it has the disease after you bring it home. The only surefire way to prevent hip dysplasia is to not buy a dog with the disease in the first place.
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