It was a gorgeous fall day when Remy, a 6-year-old black Lab, walked hesitantly into our clinic with his owners. One of our favorite patients, Remy had always seemed thrilled to see us and happy to cooperate throughout his entire exam. However, that day was different, as he seemed extremely uncomfortable. Shockingly, Remy even turned and curled his lip as we examined his back legs.
Remy’s owners reported that he had slowed down a bit, had increasing difficulty getting up after naps, and seemed sore after playing fetch. They attributed the changes to normal aging. Even though he had never had any signs of a problem before, our x-rays showed that Remy had a moderate case of hip dysplasia, a painful and degenerative disease of the hips. Hip dysplasia is a developmental problem in which there is laxity in the hip joint(s). Laxity of the joint leads to damage of the cartilage and bone tissues. This results in significant pain as rough, irregular surfaces rub against one another. Unfortunately, Remy was suffering from painful degenerative arthritis in both hips.
A comprehensive treatment plan geared toward the best results
First, we prescribed a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), to help reduce joint pain and inflammation. Rimadyl or quellin, remain our top choices. Additionally, we suggested giving a joint-supporting product like our Joint Care Premium Plus®, to provide Remy with joint-supporting ingredients and nutrients selected specifically for continued optimal joint performance. We also advised Remy’s owners to give the NSAID and Joint Care Premium Plus together for the most complete approach to treatment.
We also recommended making environmental changes such as offering an orthopedic foam bed, using a vehicle ramp, providing a heated pad designed just for dogs, using non-slip rugs, and covering up slippery floors to help Remy enjoy an easier life with minimal joint discomfort. And lastly, we told Remy’s owners to keep him moving on a daily basis to prevent muscle atrophy and increased joint pain – advising them that slow, steady, low-impact exercise such as swimming and moderate walks would maintain muscle strength, a healthy weight, and ultimately improve Remy’s quality of life.
Three months later, Remy’s owners’ thoughtful, consistent care had paid off. Remy’s progress, while initially slow, had continually improved, making him once again the enthusiastic dog who bounded into our clinic with tail wagging, kisses for all our staff, and the happy disposition we all knew and loved.
Hip dysplasia is extremely common in dogs of all ages. And while some dog breeds (especially large and giant breeds) are genetically predisposed to hip dysplasia, the disease can affect young dogs and can be influenced by nutritional and environmental factors. Please contact your veterinarian as soon as possible if you suspect your dog may have hip dysplasia or other joint issues.