Haven Lake Animal Hospital

300 Milford Harrington Highway
Milford, DE 19963




January 16, 2015 by Haven Lake Staff

Rehabilitation therapy can be a powerful tool when managing hip dysplasia.

Duke, A Shining Example of Possibilities

Duke is a typical Golden Retriever: active, easy going, friendly. You would never know by looking at him that he has been living with terrible hip dysplasia for 10 years. This happy-go-lucky guy is a perfect example of how to successfully manage a potentially debilitating orthopedic disease throughout the life of a pet. With Duke demonstrating how he has not been held back by this life long condition, hopefully we can illustrate that a happy and active life is possible in spite of early orthopedic challenges.

Diagnosis at a Young Age

At 10 months of age Duke began to have problems with his hind end. Radiographs showed severe hip dysplasia, a condition where the hip sockets are not formed properly resulting in loose hip joints and progressive arthritic changes early on in life. This abnormality has both an inherited and developmental component that work together to create varying degrees of dysfunction for each pet diagnosed with hip dysplasia. Many pets with hip dysplasia have lameness or pain issues as a young dog, grow out of it and have a period of normal activity, and then again become symptomatic as the arthritic changes cause pain in the joint and surrounding muscles.

Simple Management Strategies Make a Big Impact

This diagnosis of a long term orthopedic condition that will be present for the life of the pet can be overwhelming for many owners. With some simple management strategies, many owners can ensure an active and comfortable life for their dogs. Duke’s initial intervention after diagnosis consisted of short periods of NSAIDs for pain management, long term weight control to keep unnecessary pressure off his painful joints, and comfortable but consistent exercise such as weekly swimming. Eventually, joint suppliments such as Dasuquin and fish oil were added to his daily regimin to protect the joint and cartilage as best as possible as it wears over time. These simple, but effective, interventions managed the symptoms of his orthopedic disease for 8 years.

As the Condition Progresses, Canine Rehabilitation can be Helpful

By the age of 9, Duke began to have a subtle lameness on his left hind leg. The NSAIDs, joint suppliments, and exercise were not managing his symptoms as well as they used to. This is where canine rehabilitation came in and got Duke quickly back on track. When we added the underwater treadmill,  laser therapy, and massage to his existing treatment plan, Duke’s lameness and pain were once again well controlled and he continued to thrive. Here we are, over a year and a half after his first rehab session, and this amazing athlete is doing great. Duke is now on a regular program where he comes in for a rehab “tune up” every couple of weeks while continuing all of the other activities that have keep him on his feet for so long.

A Long-term Plan Makes All the Difference

Diagnosis at a young age of a chronic and potentially debilitating condition can be devastating. Just remember, with some basic interventions such as weight control, regular exercise, good pain management, and rehabilitation programs, many dogs will live active, happy lives despite their orthopedic concerns.