Home Shih Tzu Dog Problems Hip Dysplasia in Shih Tzus: Symptoms & Care Tips

Hip Dysplasia in Shih Tzus: Symptoms & Care Tips

by Scott Lipe
Hip Dysplasia with the Shih Tzu Breed

If you own a Shih Tzu or are considering getting one, it’s important to be aware of potential health issues that can affect this breed. While hip dysplasia is not a common problem in Shih Tzus, it can still occur and cause discomfort and mobility issues for your furry friend. In this article, we will explore the symptoms of hip dysplasia in Shih Tzus and provide tips for prevention and treatment.

Hip dysplasia is a degenerative joint disease that affects the hip joint in dogs. It occurs when the hip joint develops abnormally, causing the bones to not stay securely in place. While the exact cause of hip dysplasia is not fully understood, genetics play a significant role. Dogs with a parent who has hip dysplasia are at a greater risk of developing the condition.

Shih Tzus with hip dysplasia may exhibit symptoms such as a bunny hop gait, trouble rising, difficulty with mobility, and intermittent stiffness. If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis.

Key Takeaways:

  • Hip dysplasia can affect Shih Tzus, although it is not common in this breed.
  • Genetics play a significant role in the development of hip dysplasia.
  • Symptoms of hip dysplasia in Shih Tzus include a bunny hop gait and trouble with mobility.
  • If you suspect your Shih Tzu has hip dysplasia, consult with a veterinarian for a proper diagnosis.
  • There are treatment options available for managing hip dysplasia in Shih Tzus, including weight management, controlled exercise, and medication.

Understanding Canine Hip Dysplasia



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Hip dysplasia is a degenerative joint disease that can affect dogs, including the Shih Tzu breed. However, in Shih Tzus, this condition is considered rare due to good breeding practices and screening before breeding.

The hip joint is a ball and socket joint, with the ball portion being the head of the femur and the socket located on the pelvis. In a normal hip joint, the ball rotates freely within the socket, allowing for smooth movement. However, in hip dysplasia, the hip joint develops abnormally, causing instability and leading to subluxation, where the ball pops out of the socket. This causes pain, discomfort, and limited mobility.

Diagnosing hip dysplasia in Shih Tzus usually involves a physical examination by a veterinarian and x-rays, such as the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) or PennHIP. These x-rays can help evaluate the hip conformation and determine the severity of hip dysplasia.

Through the use of OFA or PennHIP x-rays, veterinarians can evaluate the hip joint and determine if hip dysplasia is present, showcasing the abnormal formation and instability of the joint. This information enables them to develop an appropriate treatment plan and provide necessary care to affected Shih Tzus.

Common Causes and Risk Factors of Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia in dogs, including Shih Tzus, can be caused by various factors, with genetics being the primary contributor. Dogs with a parent affected by hip dysplasia are more susceptible to developing the condition. However, there are other risk factors that can also increase the likelihood of hip dysplasia in Shih Tzus.

Nutrition plays a crucial role in the overall health of dogs, including their joint health. Improper nutrition, such as an unbalanced diet or excessive caloric intake, can contribute to the development of hip dysplasia. It is important to provide your Shih Tzu with a high-quality, well-balanced diet that supports their bone and joint health.

Rapid growth during the puppy stage can also be a risk factor for hip dysplasia. Shih Tzus, like many small breed dogs, tend to have a shorter growth period compared to larger breeds. Allowing for controlled and gradual growth through proper feeding and exercise can help reduce the risk of hip dysplasia.

Excessive exercise, especially high-impact activities, can put stress on the developing joints of young Shih Tzus and increase the chances of hip dysplasia. It is important to provide appropriate exercise for your Shih Tzu, taking their age, size, and breed into consideration. Avoid activities that put excessive strain on their hips, such as jumping from heights or engaging in intense agility training at a young age.

In addition to genetics, overweight or obese dogs are more prone to hip dysplasia. The extra weight places additional stress on their hips, which can lead to the development or progression of hip dysplasia. Maintaining a healthy weight through proper diet and regular exercise is essential in preventing hip dysplasia in Shih Tzus.

To prevent hip dysplasia in Shih Tzus, it is crucial to implement measures that focus on proper nutrition, controlled growth, and avoiding excessive exercise. By addressing these risk factors, you can help protect your Shih Tzu from developing this degenerative joint disease.

Diagnosing Hip Dysplasia in Shih Tzus

hip dysplasia shih tzu

Diagnosing hip dysplasia in Shih Tzus is crucial for their well-being. This degenerative joint disease can affect their mobility and overall quality of life. By understanding the symptoms and conducting the appropriate tests, you can ensure early detection and effective management of hip dysplasia in your Shih Tzu.

The two main methods used to diagnose hip dysplasia in dogs are the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and PennHIP. These diagnostic tests involve a combination of a physical examination and x-rays of the hip joints.

The physical examination allows the veterinarian to assess your Shih Tzu’s gait, mobility, and overall hip health. They will look for specific symptoms such as lameness, difficulty rising, and a narrow stance.

The x-rays play a crucial role in diagnosing hip dysplasia. They provide a clear view of the hip joint’s conformation and any signs of subluxation or abnormalities. During the x-ray procedure, your Shih Tzu will need to be sedated to ensure accurate results.

The results of the x-rays are scored based on the severity of the hip dysplasia. The lower the score, the better the hip conformation. This scoring system helps determine the appropriate course of treatment and management for your Shih Tzu.

Testing Both Parents

If you are considering getting a Shih Tzu puppy, it is advisable to test both parents for hip dysplasia to ensure they are cleared of this genetic condition. This can help reduce the risk of passing hip dysplasia onto their offspring.

By conducting thorough diagnostic tests and understanding your Shih Tzu’s hip health, you can make informed decisions about their care and provide them with the necessary support and treatment to manage hip dysplasia effectively.

Diagnosing Hip Dysplasia in Shih Tzus
Methods Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), PennHIP
Diagnostic Tests Physical examination, x-rays
Physical Examination Gait assessment, mobility evaluation
X-Rays Clear view of hip joint conformation
X-Ray Results Scored based on severity of hip dysplasia
Testing Both Parents Recommended before breeding

Treatment Options for Hip Dysplasia in Shih Tzus

When it comes to treating hip dysplasia in Shih Tzus, there are both non-surgical and surgical options available. While surgery is often necessary for a complete cure, non-surgical treatments can help manage the symptoms and improve the overall quality of life for affected dogs.

Non-Surgical Treatment Options

If your Shih Tzu has been diagnosed with hip dysplasia, here are some non-surgical treatment options that may be beneficial:

  1. Weight Management: Maintaining an ideal weight for your dog can alleviate stress on the hip joints and reduce discomfort. Consult with your veterinarian to determine a healthy weight for your Shih Tzu and develop a suitable diet and exercise plan.
  2. Controlled Exercise: Daily low-impact exercise, such as short walks or swimming, can help build muscle strength, support joint stability, and reduce pain. Avoid high-impact activities or prolonged periods of exercise that may worsen symptoms.
  3. Warmth and Comfort: Providing your Shih Tzu with a warm and cozy environment, especially during colder months, can help soothe arthritic joints and alleviate discomfort. Consider using orthopedic beds or heated pads to provide additional comfort.
  4. Pain Medication: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) prescribed by your veterinarian can help alleviate pain and reduce inflammation associated with hip dysplasia. These medications should only be given under professional guidance.
  5. Supplements: Certain dietary supplements, such as Omega-3 fatty acids, Microlactin, Glucosamine/Chondroitin, and ASU (avocado and soybean unsaponifiables), can help promote joint health and reduce inflammation. Discuss the appropriate supplements and dosage with your veterinarian.

Surgical Treatment Options

In severe cases or when non-surgical options do not provide sufficient relief, surgical intervention may be necessary. The choice of surgery depends on the severity of the hip dysplasia and the individual condition of your Shih Tzu. Common surgical treatment options for hip dysplasia in dogs include:

  • Double or Triple Pelvic Osteotomy (DPO/TPO): This procedure involves cutting and repositioning the pelvic bone to improve the alignment of the hip joint and promote better stability.
  • Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO): In this surgery, the femoral head (top part of the thigh bone) is removed, eliminating the bone-on-bone contact in the hip joint. The surrounding muscles then form a “false joint” to provide mobility.
  • Total Hip Replacement (THR): A total hip replacement involves removing the damaged hip joint and replacing it with an artificial joint. This surgery provides the best long-term results but is more invasive and expensive.

It is important to consult with a veterinary surgeon experienced in orthopedic procedures to determine the most appropriate surgical option for your Shih Tzu.

Remember, each dog’s condition is unique, and the treatment plan should be tailored to their specific needs. Work closely with your veterinarian to develop a comprehensive approach to managing and treating hip dysplasia in your beloved Shih Tzu.

Conclusion

Hip dysplasia is a degenerative joint disease that can affect Shih Tzus. While it is not a common issue in this breed, it is important for Shih Tzu owners to be aware of the symptoms and treatment options for hip dysplasia. Genetics play a significant role in the development of hip dysplasia, and responsible breeding practices can help minimize the occurrence of this condition.

Early detection and intervention are important for managing hip dysplasia in Shih Tzus and improving their quality of life. By implementing preventive measures, such as weight management, controlled exercise, and regular veterinary check-ups, Shih Tzu owners can help reduce the risk of hip dysplasia and ensure the overall health and well-being of their beloved pets.

If you suspect that your Shih Tzu may have hip dysplasia, it is crucial to consult with a veterinarian who can conduct a physical exam and perform hip x-rays to accurately diagnose the condition. With proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment, including both non-surgical options and surgery if necessary, the effects of hip dysplasia can be managed, allowing your Shih Tzu to lead a comfortable and active life.

FAQ

Q: What are the symptoms of hip dysplasia in Shih Tzus?

A: The symptoms of hip dysplasia in Shih Tzus can include a bunny hop gait, wobbly gait, trouble rising, trouble with mobility, narrow stance, intermittent stiffness, and loss of muscle tone.

Q: What causes hip dysplasia in Shih Tzus?

A: The main cause of hip dysplasia in Shih Tzus is genetics. Dogs with a parent with hip dysplasia are more likely to develop the condition. Other contributing factors can include nutrition, rapid growth, and excess exercise.

Q: How is hip dysplasia diagnosed in Shih Tzus?

A: Hip dysplasia in Shih Tzus is typically diagnosed through a physical exam and x-rays. Tests such as Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and PennHIP evaluations can be used to evaluate the hip conformation and severity of the condition.

Q: Can hip dysplasia in Shih Tzus be treated without surgery?

A: While hip dysplasia cannot be cured without surgery, there are non-surgical treatment options available. These include weight management, controlled exercise, warmth, orthopedic bed, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory/pain medication, and supplements such as Omega 3, Microlactin, Glucosamine/Chondroitin, and ASU.

Q: What surgical options are available for hip dysplasia in Shih Tzus?

A: Surgical treatment options for hip dysplasia in Shih Tzus can include double or triple pelvic osteotomy (DPO/TPO), femoral head ostectomy (FHO), and total hip replacement (THR). The choice of treatment depends on the severity of the hip dysplasia and the individual dog’s condition.

Q: How can hip dysplasia in Shih Tzus be prevented?

A: Preventive measures for hip dysplasia in Shih Tzus include proper nutrition, controlled growth, avoiding excessive exercise, and regular veterinary check-ups. Responsible breeding practices, including screening the parents for hip dysplasia, can also help minimize the occurrence of this condition.

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