German Shepherd with ball

Can Hip and Joint Supplements Help Dogs with Hip Dysplasia?

Understanding Dog Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a common developmental problem in large and giant breed dogs, and by some estimates is the most common inherited disease seen in dogs. Hip dysplasia typically leads to osteoarthritis of the hip joints, a crippling and painful disease that can significantly impact a dog’s quality of life.

Breeds most frequently affected include:

  • German Shepherd
  • Rottweiler
  • Golden Retriever
  • Saint Bernard
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Newfoundland

Canine hip dysplasia occurs when a dog’s hip joint does not develop as it should. The hip is a ball-and-socket joint, and if the two components do not grow at the same rate, it can result in a very loose, unstable joint. When a dog moves around with a loose hip joint, it can cause permanent damage to the joint’s anatomy. If left untreated, the condition can turn into osteoarthritis (also called degenerative joint disease), as the abnormal movement wears away cartilage and leads to the formation of scar tissue and bone spurs.

Genetics plays a central role in the development of canine hip dysplasia, as dogs can pass the condition to their offspring. Puppies with a genetic predisposition are born with normal hips, but changes begin within a few weeks of birth. In some cases, lameness and gait abnormalities begin as early as 3 months of age, while other dogs may not exhibit signs for years.

What are the symptoms of hip dysplasia?

Canine hip dysplasia affects both young and old dogs, but not always in the same way. The Morris Animal Foundation divides the signs according to age of onset:

Juvenile (dogs younger than 18 months of age)

  • lameness (limping) in one or both of back legs
  • bunny-like hopping (dog holds its back legs together and hops instead of running normally)
  • difficulty getting up
  • clicking sound from hips when moving or getting up
  • shifting of weight to front legs
  • unable to exercise for long periods

Mature (dogs older than 18 months of age)

  • history of lameness (limping) in back legs
  • limping after exercising
  • loss of muscle mass in one or both of back legs
  • difficulty jumping or climbing

How is dysplasia diagnosed?

Though the signs listed above can point to hip dysplasia, the condition is usually diagnosed via hip x-rays in both young and adult dogs. Your veterinarian may also use their hands to examine the hip and check for looseness.

Can hip dysplasia be prevented?

Although it has been recognized for a long time that hip dysplasia has a strong genetic component, genetics alone do not explain why some dogs develop hip dysplasia and others with a genetic predisposition do not.

Excessive caloric intake causing rapid growth and weight gain as well as heavy exercise are risk factors for hip dysplasia in a puppy with a genetic predisposition.

So, if you have a puppy of a large or giant breed, it is crucial not to over feed them!

When bone growth outpaces development of the soft tissue structures important for joint stabilization, it leads to joint laxity. And, as described earlier, joint laxity starts the cascade of events that results in osteoarthritis.

High quality hip and joint supplements can be a game-changer here. They will promote healthy development and maintenance for the cartilage and tissue that align along the joints.

Three German shepherds

Which supplements are recommended for dogs with hip dysplasia?

As mentioned above, hip dysplasia means loose hip joints which leads to joint damage. The best supplement for this condition is the one which will nourish, support, and lubricate the joints and cartilage.

There is significant scientific evidence which demonstrates that both glucosamine and chondroitin for dogs - the two most common ingredients in hip and joint supplements - may improve joint health and ease arthritis symptoms.

Another helpful compound is MSM (methylsulfonylmethane). This organic form of sulphur is a natural analgesic that blocks the transfer of pain impulses through the nerves, promotes joint flexibility, healthy cartilage, and elasticity of body tissue. Blended together, these three powerful ingredients provide extra cartilage and bone support so your furry friend can enjoy an active and pain-free life.

The ingredient that best dog supplement brands started to add to their hip and joint supplements is Green Lipped Mussel. Green Lipped Mussel is sometimes called a “miracle from the sea”. This mollusk is harvested from the waters surrounding New Zealand. The native people of New Zealand, Maoris, have known the health benefits of these mussels since the early 1900s. Green Lipped Mussel contains high levels of glucosamine and chondroitin. They are also a rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are crucial in fighting inflammation.

Green Lipped Mussels

Traditionally, osteoarthritis in dogs has been managed with non-steroid anti-inflammatories (NSAIDS) as the first line of treatment and during flare ups. While NSAIDS do a good job in minimizing pain, their long-term use is not recommended due to side effects.

We strongly believe that dogs of large and giant breeds, especially the breeds that are prone to hip dysplasia, should start taking hip and joint supplements as soon as they reach 18 months of age. Consistent use of the supplement will help drastically reduce your visits to the veterinarian. 

Additionally, long-chain polyunsaturated Omega-3 fatty acids like eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are great for older dogs with arthritis. This has proven true in the case of Bruno, an English bulldog who suffers from hip dysplasia. Pawsomely Healthy Omega-3 supplements have helped reduce his inflammation and lubricate his joints, thus giving him some pain relief.

Omega-3 jar with capsules

These fatty acids are derived from fish oil. Unlike many omega-3 supplements, our Omega-3 supplement is in powdered form in capsules and that's why is less likely to oxidize and go rancid. Pawsomely Healthy Omega-3 has a higher concentration of these two fatty acids EPA and DHA that help reduce inflammation and can promote cell membrane health. This product is highly beneficial addition to your aging dog’s diet. It's even suited for dogs with health conditions that preclude them from consuming oils!

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