Hip Dysplasia is a genetic condition of the hip joint in which the head of the leg bone does not fit snugly into the socket of the hip bone. Canine hip dysplasia is most common in large and giant breeds but is also found in some spaniels.
Golden Retrievers are prone to this genetic disease which is very hard to detect in small puppies. Symptoms won’t show up until later in life when the weight of the dog increases and places additional strain on the hip joint, ligaments and muscles. The condition will get worse with age and will cause the dog to limp, bunny hop the back legs and refuse to move around because of the pain and stiffness.
Due to careful breeding programs, hip dysplasia is being controlled, because those dogs with the disease aren’t used for breeding by responsible breeders. Unfortunately, there are irresponsible breeders whose interest is more geared towards making money than caring for the breed or the new owners. The important issue here is to only buy a Golden Retriever from a registered and respected breeder and ask questions about hip dysplasia. Visit some dog shows and talk to Goldie breeders to get to know who has the quality animals.
If you have bought a Goldie puppy and want to know if it has hip dysplasia, take the pup to your vet for a check-up. The vet will not be able to accurately diagnose the condition until the dog is about 9 to 12 months, but it is a good idea to have a new puppy vet-checked anyway. Most people only know their dog has hip dysplasia when the dog is a few years old and starts to stiffen up and limp, and they take it to the vet.
There are treatments for Golden Retrievers who are diagnosed with hip dysplasia and there is no reason why they shouldn’t live a long and contented life with treatment. The vet may prescribe pain killers, anti-inflammatory drugs and even physiotherapy. In severe cases, surgery may be warranted. One of the major factors in giving the Goldie quality of life is weight control – excess weight will exacerbate the problem.
To help prevent problems in later life, there are some strategies you can employ with your puppy. Some breeders recommend not allowing your pup to run flat out or jump up until it is six months old, to allow the cartilage and tendons to develop. Feed good quality food with all the requirements needed for healthy growth. After six months, make sure your Golden Retriever gets daily exercise in the form of walks and games of chase, catch and retrieving. It is important that muscles are well-developed to help prevent some of the debilitating symptoms of hip dysplasia.