- Questions On Dogs and Cats is published once a week, late on Sunday evening.
- We always have a polling question or two each week, which you can find in the column to the left. These are for the most part related to some topic in that week's blog issue. Please participate by answering these questions...your answers are anonymous, but may help spur further discussion of the question.
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OK, now that we've taken care of that, it's time to get into our weekly swing and talk about dog and cat stuff! The polling question last week produced an interesting result. It seems that most of our readers have NOT ever had a dog be diagnosed with Hip Dysplasia. In a way, that's actually good news for those readers. There may be several reasons for this result, the most likely being that public awareness of the disease has reduced its rate of incidence. The other very likely reason is that the dog-owning public has gradually shifted its preference from pure breeds of dogs to the mixed breeds so popular from adoption groups. Be sure to answer this week's polling question in the left column.
CURRENT NEWS OF INTEREST
1) Some astounding, and almost unbelievable, numbers are a part of this report from The Arizona Republic this past week. "More than 12,000 pit bulls were abandoned at (Maricopa) county shelters last year...though pit bulls account for only about 3 percent of the registered dog population, they represent nearly one-third of shelter dogs...the dogs' limited tolerance for confinement and the public's reluctance to adopt them forced county shelters to euthanize nearly 10,000 pit bulls last year, almost 1,000 more than in 2007...at least that many, if not more, will be euthanized again this year, according to the county's projections." Do those numbers get your attention, the way they did to me? Bear in mind that this is just one county (albeit, including the huge city of Phoenix) and we've got to think that these same numbers are being seen in other areas of the country...at least, in the bigger cities. That's a lot of dogs being euthanatized, especially from one breed! Read the whole article at: http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2009/07/11/20090711pitbulls0711.html
2) The American Kennel Club has announced an interesting program they will be sponsoring in a few months. This September, hundreds of AKC affiliated clubs and other dog organizations will be celebrating AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Day all across the country. You can join the fun by attending an event in your area! Go to this site: http://www.akc.org/clubs/rdod/events/ and enter your state in the box to find out what events will be offered in your location.
3) The Humane Society of the United States joined forces with several other agencies this past week over an 8-state area in accomplishing "The Largest Dogfighting Raid in U.S. History." To read the whole very interesting account, go to: http://hsus.typepad.com/wayne/2009/07/dogfighting-raid.html It's quite a story!
DISEASES, AILMENTS, AND MEDICAL CONDITIONS
Many of our readers responded to the discussion of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs in last week's issue to say that, even though they had not had a pet dog ever diagnosed with this disease, they did know someone who did. Even with all the publicity this disease has received over the last 40 years, it still persists in certain breed populations. Helpful Buckeye introduced you to Hip Dysplasia last week, including its probable causes and breeds most likely to be affected. This week (Part 2 of a 3-part series,) our discussion will center on the signs of this disease, making the diagnosis of Hip Dysplasia, and a general treatment approach.
Signs of Hip Dysplasia
The signs of Hip Dysplasia are similar to those seen with other causes of arthritis in the hip. Dogs often walk or run with an altered gait. They may resist movements that require full extension or flexion of the rear legs. Many times, they run with a “bunny hopping” gait, in other words, they push off with both rear legs at the same time rather than alternating them. They will show stiffness and pain in the rear legs after exercise or first thing in the morning. They may also have difficulty climbing stairs. In milder cases dogs will warm-up out of the stiffness with movement and exercise. Some dogs will limp and many will become less willing to participate in normal daily activities. Many owners of older dogs will attribute the changes to normal aging rather than to a specific disease process. As the condition progresses, most dogs will lose muscle tone and may even need assistance in getting up.
Clinical signs really are variable. Lameness may be mild, moderate, or severe, and is often pronounced after exercise. No one can predict when or even if a dysplastic dog will start showing clinical signs of lameness due to pain. There are also multiple environmental factors such as caloric intake, level of exercise, and weather that can affect the severity of clinical signs. There are a number of dysplastic dogs with severe arthritis that run, jump, and play as if nothing is wrong and some dogs with barely any arthritic damage that are severely lame.
Dogs of all ages are subject to hip dysplasia and the resultant osteoarthritis. In severe cases, puppies as young as five months can begin to show pain and discomfort during and after exercise. The condition will worsen for them until even normal daily activities are painful. Without intervention, these dogs may eventually be unable to walk. In most cases, however, the symptoms do not begin to show until the middle or later years in the dog's life.
How Is Hip Dysplasia Diagnosed?
The diagnosis of canine hip dysplasia is typically made by combining: clinical signs of arthritis and pain, a complete physical exam, and radiographs (x-rays). If a dog is showing outward signs of arthritis, there are usually easily recognized changes in the joint that can be seen on radiographs. In addition, the veterinarian may even be able to feel looseness in the joint or may be able to elicit pain through extension and flexion of the rear leg. Regardless, the results are pretty straightforward and usually not difficult to interpret.
By comparing the X-ray on the left with that on the right, you can easily see the difference in the structures of the hip joints. The right one is deeply and cleanly seated, while the left one shows and a much shallower joint. At this point, our readers have learned enough about hip dysplasia in dogs to fully appreciate this video of a veterinary surgery specialist explaining what he looks for in making the diagnosis: http://www.5min.com/Video/How-to-Recognize-Hip-Dysplasia-in-Dogs-112892918 Also, take the time to watch this video which provides a well-illustrated review of everything we've covered up to this point: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTwi8TRs6z8
Another group of dogs, those with no clinical signs of hip lameness, may come in for a determination on the health of their hip joints. Their owners are usually considering breeding their dogs. The breeder wants to ensure that the animal is not at risk for passing on the disease to his or her offspring. The traditional manner of evaluating a dog’s hips for breeding purposes is OFA testing. The method used by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, http://www.offa.org/index.html , has been the standard for many years. The OFA was established in 1966, and has become the world's largest all-breed registry. The OFA maintains a database of hip evaluations for hundreds of thousands of dogs. Radiographs are taken by your veterinarian using specific OFA guidelines and are then submitted to the OFA for evaluation and certification of the dog's hip status. Since the accuracy of radiological diagnosis of hip dysplasia using the OFA technique increases after 24 months of age, the OFA requires that the dog be at least two years of age at the time the radiographs are taken. X-rays can, of course, be taken of a younger dog to determine if the changes involved with hip dysplasia are already visible. Changes visible at an early age will not improve over time and those dogs should be removed from any breeding program at that point. The 24 month requirement is for those dogs that might not be showing any X-ray changes before that.
Most dogs need to be either sedated or under anesthesia to obtain the desired quality and positioning for these diagnostic X-rays.
Treatment for Hip Dysplasia
Any treatment for hip dysplasia will not involve an attempt at achieving a cure, due to the probable genetic involvement. Rather, a treatment plan will be directed at relieving the discomfort or pain resulting from the degenerative, arthritic condition of one or both hip joints. Treatments are both medical and surgical. Mild cases or nonsurgical candidates (due to health or owner constraints) may benefit from weight reduction, restriction of exercise on hard surfaces, controlled physical therapy to strengthen and maintain muscle tone, anti-inflammatory drugs ( aspirin, corticosteroids, NSAIDs), and possibly joint fluid modifiers. Surgical options include a wide array of corrective procedures that range from fairly simple to quite complex. Your veterinarian may suggest a combination of medical and surgical treatments as the best solution for your dog. Medical and surgical treatments will be discussed in further detail in next week's issue, along with information on the prognosis of those treatments, and some ideas for prevention of Hip Dysplasia.
Any comments, please send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org or click on the "Comment" at the end of this issue.
1) Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) is the nation's oldest and largest health insurance provider for pets. VPI receives more than a million claims each year. While most of these claims are for common pet conditions or routine care, every now and then a claim comes by that reminds us all just how unexpected pet accidents can be. Each month, VPI employees select and nominate one interesting claim in search of the most unusual claim of the year. All claims considered for the award are for pets that have made full recoveries and received insurance reimbursement for eligible expenses. In September 2009 VPI will ask the public to vote for the year’s most unusual claim from among these monthly nominees. The top pick will receive VPI's first annual Hambone Award and designation as the most unusual claim of the year. The Hambone Award is named in honor of a VPI-insured dog that got stuck in a refrigerator and ate an entire Thanksgiving ham while waiting for someone to find him. The dog was eventually found, with a licked-clean ham bone and a mild case of hypothermia. Go to VPI's web site for a sometimes funny summary of the monthly winners for this year: http://www.petinsurance.com/healthzone/HamboneAward.aspx As you can see, the April 2009 nominee is from right here in Flagstaff and was written about in our local paper.
2) Many of you sent in comments and e-mails about the skate-boarding Bulldog last week. Like all of you, Helpful Buckeye was impressed with his ability on the board. However, Ken, the Cowpoke in Flagstaff, sent in this video depicting another dog that takes this talent to a whole new level. Use your speakers and enjoy: http://www.allstarsanimals.com/videos.htm scroll down and click on the video of "Extreme Pete"....Impressed?
3) Helpful Buckeye has presented numerous stories of Service Dogs that provide a valuable service to their owners or to people of certain needs. But, what happens when that Service Dog is also a little different than other dogs? Among Tami Skinner's three Shelties, it's easy to pick out the youngest. He's not just the smallest or the one knocked down by his brothers as they're playing catch in her backyard, but 3-year-old Dare has a more obvious distinction. He only has two legs. A front paw and a back paw which are both located on his right side. "People ask me all the time how does he walk?" said Skinner. " He just walks. He just goes because nobody's told him he can't." Go to: http://www.9news.com/news/local/article.aspx?storyid=118438&catid=346 for the whole story of how Dare copes with his own unusual situation, then click on "Play Video" to see how he provides inspiration to some less fortunate people. This might not leave you with a dry eye!
This story was covered by KUSA in Denver, CO.
4) OK, Helpful Buckeye knows that most of you probably pooh-pooh the appeal of horoscopes and may even chide your friends who do read them. Well, now you can read the horoscope for your pets! The people at Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) have put together a comprehensive set of horoscope readings for each month of the year and how they apply to your pets: http://www.petinsurance.com/Healthzone/pet-horoscopes.aspx If any of our readers start to follow these horoscopes for their pet, please let us know how accurate they are.
5) Our last video of the week is quite entertaining and was sent in by Charee, the wife of Helpful Buckeye's former partner. Sit back and enjoy these thieving animals: http://vids.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=vids.individual&VideoID=59931280 Oh, remember to protect your popcorn, potato chips, or whatever you're snacking on...also, your bikini tops!
The LA Dodgers have won 6 out of 9 games on their current road trip, which is pretty impressive. They have the best record in the Major Leagues at the All-Star break. When the regular season resumes play on Thursday, we'll have to see how our General Manager plans to handle our need for another quality starting pitcher.
Today is the birthday of Henry David Thoreau, born in 1817, and famous for his book, Walden. He left us this quote about cats: "A kitten is so flexible that she is almost double; the hind parts are equivalent to another kitten with which the forepart plays. She does not discover that her tail belongs to her until you tread on it." Makes sense to me!
The picture that accompanies Helpful Buckeye's profile this week was taken a few weeks ago near Albuquerque, NM.
~~The goal of this blog is to provide general information and advice to help you be a better pet owner and to have a more rewarding relationship with your pet. This blog does not intend to replace the professional one-on-one care your pet receives from a practicing veterinarian. When in doubt about your pet's health, always visit a veterinarian.~~