Did you know that Boxer dogs can suffer from a life-threatening disease called hip dysplasia? Many of us may be surprised why this kind of disease can affect our pet dogs, but this is really true. Not only humans can have hip dysplasia; dogs can have it, too.
Hip dysplasia or hip arthritis in layman's term, is a legacy disease passed through the genes and can also be acquired through some environmental factors. Most often, loose-hipped Boxer dogs that mate with one another will give birth to a dysplastic Boxer puppy.
Obesity is also a risk factor for the development of arthritis. Obesity in dogs is usually caused by dog food over-supplemented with extra proteins, vitamins and minerals to make puppies grow faster. This fast growth of puppies can create orthopedic problems in some breed of dogs like Boxer dogs that may lead to hip dysplasia and arthritis.
When a dog has dysplasia, it has an abnormal development of the ball-in-socket joint that makes up the hip. In a dysplastic hip, the ball and the socket do not fit together comfortably resulting to painful and damaging friction. When a dog bears its weight on the joint, the friction strains the joint capsule that produces joint fluid.
The straining damages the cartilage and leads to the release of inflammatory proteins within the joint. Thus the cartilage is eventually destroyed and inflamed and with pain symptoms associated with arthritis.
Just like any other breed of dogs, Boxer dogs with hip dysplasia experience the same sign and symptoms like decreased activity, difficulty rising, rear limb lameness, reluctance to use stairs especially in going up, reluctance to jump or stand on hind limbs; swaggering movements, and so on.
Some owners opt for surgery or even a total hip replacement for a complete recovery from dysplasia. Complication, however, can oblige the removal of the implants. There are also non-surgical methods for treating hip dysplasia such as pain medications, weight loss programs, controlled exercise, and physical therapy. These methods can be very effective in some cases. However, these treatments do have their limitations, too.
In order to reduce the incidence of hip dysplasia on Boxer dogs, careful breeding is the best measure of prevention. Refrain from breeding two dysplastic dogs. However, it is not always easy to avoid breeding dysplastic Boxers since it is so difficult to detect hip dysplasia in dogs that do not show signs of arthritis. And so, some veterinary clinics use PennHIP x-ray technique in order to detect hip dysplasia early on.
A carefully planned diet is also a good way to prevent the disease. Avoid feeding your puppies with over-supplemented, high-protein food in order to avoid rapid weight gain. Dogs fed with calorie-limited diet will reach the same adult size more slowly but with reduced possibility of developing arthritis.
It is always best to consult with a veterinarian regarding specific diets and feeding schedules to minimize the risk of developing this life-threatening hip dysplasia. Many veterinarians recommend x-rays of at-risk breeds like Boxer dogs, so have your Boxer checked by his vet in order to keep him healthy and active for a long period of time.
Richard Cussons has written various articles on dogs. For information about Boxer dogs and Boxer dog training, check out boxersavvy.com .