Have you ever seen anything as cute as a cockapoo puppy walking along with their hips swaying like they are full of sass and attitude? The same puppy that when he or she sits themselves down they flop down and look similar to a frog with their hips spread out.
Although this is the kinda thing that was seemingly made for memes and viral videos, it is not nearly as harmless as it looks. A veterinarian would look at the puppy with different thoughts and none of them revolving around the idea that it is cute in any shape or form. Swaying hips are a very worrying sign that the dog will have problems later in their life.
It is clear signs that they are suffering from Canine Hip Dysplasia, even if it is just in the earliest stages. If this is your first time hearing about this condition, then we would recommend that you read through the following guide. In it, we will discuss exactly what this condition is, the kind of breeds that are most likely to develop it, the various factors that can cause it and aggravate it, how to spot it in your own dog and how to prevent and treat it.
Basically, everything you need to know about this serious condition.
What is CHD or Canine Dysplasia?
CHD, as it’s known in shorthand is Canine Hip Dysplasia and describes hip joint malformation. It not only can cause your dog a lot of pain, but it can also affect your cockapoos ability to freely move around.
Looking at an x-ray of a healthy dog, their femurs have rounded ends, and this is a bone that bears a lot of their weight and it sits into a very deep hip socket. However, a cockapoos hip socket is less deep if they are suffering from Canine Hip Dysplasia and the femur ball won’t sit in it properly.
Clearly, if the socket and ball are not fitting close together, this can start to wear the cartilage down and arthritis and pain come as your cockapoo gets older.
You will find that some dogs who later have Canine Hip Dysplasia have normal hips. It is only with time and as those dogs mature that the connective tissue, muscles and ligaments that surround and support the joint start to fail in holding the joints together appropriately. The end result in this scenario is that the bones and cartilage suffer from wear and tear due to the joint separation.
What Breeds of Dogs Are Most Likely to Get or Develop Canine Hip Dysplasia?
Generally, the most popular and larger breeds of dogs like Samoyed, Alaskan Malamute, Golden Retriever, German Shepherd, Rottweiler, Old English Sheepdog, Saint Bernard, Newfoundland and Labrador Retrievers. Although cockapoos are not the largest breeds, they are still one of the breeds that are prone to developing CHD.
Although there is no definitive reason why the dogs who develop CHD do, it is thought that the seriousness of the condition is linked to the nurture and nature they experience while they are growing.
How Genetics Are Involved
There is a very clear connection between genetics and CHD. The problem is that because it’s a polygenetic multi-factorial disease, there is no real way to identify the precise genetic recipe that comes into play with the joint deformity. There are various genetic combinations involved, that can make it harder to eliminate the condition from the gene pool.
Unfortunately, it can be very hard to identify whether puppies have CHD or not as it doesn’t really show properly until their joints have developed fully. It is normally by the time they are aged 2 that 95% of cases are fully revealed.
Ideally, if you are getting a cockapoo puppy from a breeder that the parents have been tested for elbow dysplasia and hip dysplasia, which is essentially the same elbow socket joint deformity.
Environmental Factors That Can Cause CHD
While puppies are not born with hip dysplasia, it develops as they get older. Although the dog’s genetics have a huge role in the condition, their environment also plays a role in whether or not dogs develop the condition.
Take, for example, ensuring your dog gets enough exercise. While this is essential to their development and general, health, you need to make sure you do it at a pace that suits the individual dog. Good ideas are taking your pup for a swim in a local pool or to the park to play fetch. These are both low-impact exercises that will not strain their muscles and joints too much.
Activities such as agility and obstacle courses, jumping, lots of stairs and running if their joints are not fully grown and matured yet, there is a chance the dog will suffer from hip dysplasia at a later point in life.
Therefore, it’s best to avoid taking your puppy along with you when you participate in activities that involve a lot of jumping or with you as you go on your daily run. Wait until they have fully reached adulthood to reduce the impact on their immature joints.
How to Identify if Your Cockapoo Has Canine Hip Dysplasia
The best way to know if your pup is suffering from Canine Hip Dysplasia or not is to take him or her along to the vets and have them sedated so they can x-ray their hips and check if the joints slot together properly.
With many dogs, the early signs of the condition are not easy to spot, and it is only with the use of an X-ray that they can be identified.
Having said that, there are some symptoms that you can look for if you believe your dog may be in the advanced stages of the disease.
Look out for:
- Signs of aggression that can’t be explained as the pain starts to increase
- The development of arthritis as the condition continues to worsen
- Hindquarter and back leg muscles wasting in more serious instances of the condition
- When your dog is standing, their front legs are further apart than their back legs
- Lameness in their hind legs, that gets worse as they exercise more
- Hips or back legs are painful to touch
- They find it difficult to get up from a lying down position
- Hopping like bunnies when they are going upstairs
- They are reluctant to climb, jump or run up the stairs
- They walk with a very noticeable and pronounced swaying gait, i.e. their back end moves in a back and forth fashion
- Intolerance to exercise
- They sit in a frog-like position with at least one of their hips splayed out
It’s important to note that not all cockapoos or other dogs have these symptoms when they suffer from CHD, as there are different degrees of seriousness for this disease. The best way to diagnose your dog with CHD is by having your vet take an x-ray of their hips and the surrounding joints.
How Nutrition Affects Canine Hip Dysplasia
There are also nutritional factors that may have a role in CHD development. Like your cockapoo growing too fast, having an unbalanced number of electrolytes or simply not enough of specific nutrients. It does tend to occur in larger dogs though but can affect medium-sized dogs too.
The crucial things to remember with the diet and nutrition of your cockapoo and CHD is not to give them too much calcium and to try and avoid them growing and putting on too much weight. It may also be a good idea to feed your dog food approved by vets. As well as following a specific feeding schedule.
How You Can Prevent and Possibly Treat CHD
The best thing to do is to avoid buying a cockapoo without making sure that its genetics are in good order. Many breeders make sure there is no history of the condition in the parents before breeding from them. All breeders and owners should go to the Osteopathic Foundation for Animals to have the parents’ hips scored. That way you have evidence of whether they are considered Fair, Good or Excellent. It is important to avoid buying a puppy from a breeder who has at least one parent with a hip score of less than Fair, although Good and Excellent are obviously preferred.
Alongside the hip scores, the OFA also scores for CHD. If you discover that one of the parents has either Borderline, Mild, Moderate or a Severe CHD score for their hips, you should avoid buying any puppies from litters.
Obviously, as we’ve discussed genetics is only part of it all. There is simply no guarantee. A good and balanced, nutrition-filled diet and plenty of exercise are also important. As is not pushing your dog too much in the exercise department.
If you discover, despite trying your best to avoid your cockapoo getting it, that they are developing it when they are an adult, there are several ways to treat it. You should speak to your vet and get their expert opinion about which treatment is best for your dog and their specific case.
It depends on how serious your cockapoo has CHD, but your vet may suggest surgery as the best way to increase their quality of life. One such way is having a full hip replacement surgery, and many dogs that have this experience extremely positive results. Other more preventative forms of surgery include JPS or juvenile pubic symphysiodesis if your cockapoo puppy is considered a high-risk candidate for suffering from CHD when they are older.
There are non-surgical approaches to treatment that may help your cockapoo, such as proper management of their weight to ensure there is no additional and unnecessary pressure on their joints. You may also, with the vet’s recommendation, try to supplement their diet with Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Chondroitin Sulphate and Glucosamine and use NSAID painkillers to relieve the discomfort they may feel.
Exercise and activities such as leash walking and swimming are also ideal for ensuring they have well-toned muscles, as are massages and physical therapy.
Anything you can do in addition to their environment and lifestyle may help, such as installing ramps and smaller, easier to navigate steps.
It is never going to be the best news in the world finding out your dog has CHD and where possible, anything you can do to avoid it will save you a lot of money and heartache. However, if you do discover your dog suffers from it, we’ve shown there are some treatments options out there that can help your dog to still have a high-quality life.
It’s all about being adaptable and altering their routine and the kinds of activities they participate in to make sure their hips are not put under more stress than necessary.