An information resource for prospective pet owners

Arthritis in Dogs

Golden Retriever

Hip Dysplasia (HD)

Related terms: Coxofemoral joint laxity, Hip joint arthritis, Coxofemoral joint arthritis, osteoarthritis of the hip

Outline: As a result of selection of particular features during the breeding of Golden retrievers, they are commonly affected with a hip disease characterised by excessive laxity in the joint (the ball moves too much within its socket) or excessive shallowness of the hip socket joint. In time this leads to painful arthritis.

Summary of Information

(for more information click on the links below)

1. Brief description

Hip dysplasia (HD) is a complex condition where the hip joints of a growing puppy develop abnormally. The primary reason for this abnormal development is hip joint laxity ie the joint is too loose; leading to the two articulating parts of the joint of the pelvis – the femoral head and the acetabulum (which form the ball-and-socket of the joint) – moving abnormally relative to one another; the femoral head subluxating (partly dislocating) from the acetabulum. This leads to abnormal stresses and strains on the joint and leads to inflammation and degeneration of the joint tissues. Ultimately, permanent osteoarthritis develops in the joints. These changes produce pain and disability for the dog which may show up in a number of ways, such as lameness, abnormal gait (movement), stiffness, reluctance to get up and move and difficulty in running and playing.

Both genetic and environmental factors play a part in the development of hip dysplasia.

2. Intensity of welfare impact   

Hip dysplasia (HD) has a major welfare impact for many dogs with the condition. Though it may initially cause intermittent disease, hip dysplasia develops into a persistent condition causing chronic joint pain and progressive disability due to joint deformation. Chronic joint pain can be severe and debilitating and may need long-term medication to control. Control of the secondary osteoarthritis can be difficult and euthanasia is common.

3. Duration of welfare impact

For some dogs, signs of hip dysplasia will develop whilst they are still immature (less than a year old), for others signs can develop at any age after maturity. Once present it remains throughout life, unless major surgical interventions are undertaken.

4. Number of animals affected

Hip dysplasia is the most common joint problem of large dogs (Smith et al 2001). UK VetCompass data for dogs overall, showed that 7.2 dogs per 1000 dogs from a random sample of 3884 dogs were diagnosed with hip dysplasia between 2009 and 2013 (O Neill et al., 2014). Figures for the number of Golden retrievers affected vary from study to study. A prevalence of up to 73% has been identified in one USA study (Paster et al 2005). From data on estimates of total dog population in the UK and on the percentage of all micro-chip registered dogs that are golden retrievers (Lucy Asher, 2011, personal communication), we estimate that the UK population size of this breed may be around 250,000.

5. Diagnosis

A diagnosis of hip dysplasia is made by a veterinary surgeon examining the dog and taking x-rays of its hip joints. For a formal diagnosis, the radiographs are submitted to a panel for evaluation.

6. Genetics

Golden retrievers have a known predisposition to hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia in dogs is a polygenic, multifactorial disease; thus many genes are thought to play a role in its development, along with significant influences from environmental factors. Currently, none of the causal genes have been identified.

7. How do you know if an animal is a carrier or likely to become affected?

The general advice is to choose a puppy whose parents have been screened for hip dysplasia and have healthy hips. However, this does not definitely preclude any of their puppies developing hip dysplasia, so an alternative approach is to choose a dog that is old enough to have its hip joint laxity assessed via the PennHIP scheme in the USA. There is limited access to this scheme outside the USA and dogs need to be 4 months or over for this assessment.

All potential breeding animals should be assessed according to a recognised hip dysplasia control scheme prior to breeding and the scheme’s guidance should be followed. It is currently not straightforward to identify dogs which carry genes predisposing to hip dysplasia – see additional details below..

8. Methods and prospects for elimination of the problem

As hip dysplasia is a multifactorial disease caused by multiple genes combined with the effects of environmental factors, its elimination is also not straightforward. Currently, various schemes to assess hip traits exist around the world, including the British Veterinary Association/ Kennel Club hip dysplasia scheme in the UK. Slow progress has been made on decreasing the prevalence of hip dysplasia. The possibility of generating breeding values for individual dogs based on multiple hip traits plus knowledge of the health of their ancestors and progeny may increase the rate of elimination of this disease and, in future, genetic tests may become available to help.

Top 10 Reasons to Spay or Neuter Your Pet

WebMD Veterinary Reference from the ASPCALogo for ASPCA

Whether you’ve recently adopted a pet or you’re considering it, one of the most important health decisions you’ll make is to spay or neuter your cat or dog. Spaying-removing the ovaries and uterus of a female pet-is a veterinary procedure that requires minimal hospitalization and offers lifelong health benefits. Neutering-removing the testicles of your male dog or cat-will vastly improve your pet’s behavior and keep him close to home.

Many states and counties have established low-cost spay/neuter programs that make surgery easily affordable and accessible. To find a low-cost program near you, search our Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Provider Database. If you’re in New York City or South Los Angeles, the ASPCA offers free or low-cost spay/neuter surgery for financially challenged dog and cat owners with proof of public assistance. Please contact our hotline at (877) SPAY-NYC for a listing of dates and locations.

Not convinced yet? Check out our handy-and persuasive-list of the top 10 reasons to spay or neuter your pet!

  1. Your female pet will live a longer, healthier life.
    Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast cancer, which is fatal in about 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats. Spaying your pet before her first heat offers the best protection from these diseases.
  2. Neutering provides major health benefits for your male.
    Besides preventing unwanted litters, neutering your male companion prevents testicular cancer.
  3. Your spayed female won’t go into heat.
    While cycles can vary, female felines usually go into heat four to five days every three weeks during breeding season. In an effort to advertise for mates, they’ll yowl and urinate more frequently-sometimes all over the house!
  4. Your male dog won’t want to roam away from home.
    An intact male will do just about anything to find a mate! That includes digging his way under the fence and making like Houdini to escape from the house. And once he’s free to roam, he risks injury in traffic and fights with other males.
  5. Your neutered male will be much better behaved.
    Neutered cats and dogs focus their attention on their human families. On the other hand, unneutered dogs and cats may mark their territory by spraying strong-smelling urine all over the house. Many aggression problems can be avoided by early neutering.
  6. Spaying or neutering will NOT make your pet fat.
    Don’t use that old excuse! Lack of exercise and overfeeding will cause your pet to pack on the extra pounds-not neutering. Your pet will remain fit and trim as long as you continue to provide exercise and monitor food intake.
  7. It is highly cost-effective.
    The cost of your pet’s spay/neuter surgery is a lot less than the cost of having and caring for a litter. It also beats the cost of treatment when your unneutered tom escapes and gets into fights with the neighborhood stray!
  8. Spaying and neutering your pet is good for the community.
    Stray animals pose a real problem in many parts of the country. They can prey on wildlife, cause car accidents, damage the local fauna and frighten children. Spaying and neutering packs a powerful punch in reducing the number of animals on the streets.
  9. Your pet doesn’t need to have a litter for your children to learn about the miracle of birth.
    Letting your pet produce offspring you have no intention of keeping is not a good lesson for your children-especially when so many unwanted animals end up in shelters. There are tons of books and videos available to teach your children about birth in a more responsible way.
  10. Spaying and neutering helps fight pet overpopulation.
    Every year, millions of cats and dogs of all ages and breeds are euthanized or suffer as strays. These high numbers are the result of unplanned litters that could have been prevented by spaying or neutering.

What is Canine Heart Disease or Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)?

Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a type of canine heart disease that affects the heart muscle. The hearts of dogs with DCM have a decreased ability to pump blood, which often results in congestive heart failure.

Some breeds, especially large and giant breeds, have a predisposition to DCM. These breeds include Doberman PinschersGreat DanesNewfoundlandsIrish Wolfhounds, and Saint Bernards. While DCM is less common in medium and small breeds, English and American Cocker Spaniels are also predisposed to this condition.

The reports submitted to the FDA span a wide range of breeds, including many without a known genetic predisposition. When early reports from the veterinary cardiology community indicated that recent, atypical cases in breeds like Golden RetrieversLabrador RetrieversWhippetsBulldogs, and Shih Tzus all consistently ate grain alternatives in their diets, the FDA took notice.

Should you be Concerned About Grain-Free Dog Food?

In the FDA’s July 2019 update on diet and canine heart disease, they examined labels of dog food products reported in DCM cases to determine whether the foods were “grain-free” (defined as no corn, soy, wheat, rice, barley or other grains), and whether the foods contained peas, lentils, chickpeas, beans, or potatoes (including sweet potatoes). Their report states that more than 90 percent of foods reported in DCM cases were grain-free, 93 percent of reported foods contained peas and/or lentils, and 42 percent contained potatoes/sweet potatoes.

According to Dr. Klein, “At this time, there is no proof that these ingredients are the cause of DCM in a broader range of dogs, but dog owners should be aware of this alert from the FDA. The FDA continues to work with veterinary cardiologists and veterinary nutritionists to better understand the effect, if any, of grain-free diets on dogs.”

The FDA’s July 2019 update includes the names of dog food brands that were named 10 times or more in reports submitted through April 30, 2019. Most reports were for dry dog food, but raw, semi-moist and wet foods were all represented.

  • Acana (67 reports)
  • Zignature (64 reports)
  • Taste of the Wild (53 reports)
  • 4Health (32 reports)
  • Earthborn Holistic (32 reports)
  • Blue Buffalo (31 reports)
  • Nature’s Domain (29 reports)
  • Fromm (24 reports)
  • Merrick (16 reports)
  • California Natural (15 reports)
  • Natural Balance (15 reports)
  • Orijen (12 reports)
  • Nature’s Variety (10 reports)
  • Nutrisource (10 reports)
  • Nutro (10 reports)
  • Rachael Ray Nutrish (10 reports)

In the Dec. 1 version of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, Lisa M. Freeman, DVM, Ph.D., DACVN, provided an update to the research on DCM and emphasized the issue is not just grain-free diets. She calls the suspected diets “BEG” diets (boutique companies, exotic ingredients, or grain-free diets).

“The apparent link between BEG diets and DCM may be due to ingredients used to replace grains in grain-free diets, such as lentils or chickpeas, but also may be due to other common ingredients commonly found in BEG diets, such as exotic meats, vegetables, and fruits,” Freeman wrote.

Freeman emphasizes that although there appears to be an association between DCM and BEG diets, the relationship has not yet been proven, and other factors may be equally or more important.

The FDA encourages pet owners to report cases of dogs and cats with DCM that they suspect to be linked to diet by using the Safety Reporting Portal.

As a general rule of thumb, the best thing you can do for your dog’s dietary health is to consult your veterinarian. Together you can weigh the pros and cons of your dog’s diet, consider whether or grain-free dog food are right for your dog, and, if necessary, monitor your dog for signs of DCM.

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