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Hip Dysplasia and Pain Management

Last year, a couple came with their new young German shepherd puppy to start in the beginner’s class. I mentioned to them that I suspected their dog had hip dysplasia. They said that they knew this and were currently discussing with their vet, what they could do help their dog.

If you have a puppy where it runs with its back legs together, just like a rabbit, this is a good indicator of the disease. In addition, if you stand along side your puppy and push him sideways from the hips, most dogs will push against you. A dog with painful hips will not push back and will almost fall over. Another sign is if the dog’s ankles lean into each other, making their feet point outwards. If you see your dog having difficulty getting to its feet after lying down and then limping for a while, then suspect something is wrong. If a breeder says to you not to let a puppy walk upstairs, walk away. The reason is that this changes the angle of the pelvis joint, so it is more likely going to hurt and the problem will become obvious very soon.

Just because your dog remains silent is not the obvious indicator you might think it should be. This is because they inherit the disease from birth. Even as they grow and as the pain becomes worse, they learn to live with it, but they very rarely cry out in pain.

I suggested that they speak to Dr. Donato Perez at the Veterinary Clinic Aliaga, which is between Teulada and Moraira. I had heard that Donato, who is a leader in the field of pain management for Hip Dysplasia, is having lots of success with a new operating technique. I am waiting for him to write an article about this in the near future.

Certainly when the dog returned to my classes, there was a marked improvement. You could see that he was trying to run in the normal doggy gait, instead of the usual bunny hopping. By the next week, he had achieved it and was running normally.

I did write to the owners to see how their dog was getting on. Their reply is that Izzy is doing great! He's running and walking normally, but most importantly, he doesn't have any pain at all. Certainly, for me, this operation looks like it really works. If you would like to contact Donato for more information, his telephone number is 965741263 or e-mail .

Before considering invasive surgery, you might think about an established technique for your pets, acupuncture.

Last year, I was reading about a German medical trial of using acupuncture on patients in need of pain management. The results showed not only did it control pain, but also some signs of encouraging regeneration. My hips are not exactly perfect and why I found it interesting, even though I hate needles. A little later, I found further information, but not for me, but for pets.

Whilst visiting various vets in my area, I came across a card for Robert Vandevelde. He is a Pet Acupuncturist and so I contacted him for more information on how his work helps animals in pain. The other day Robert sent me the following, which I hope you will find interesting and useful.

Acupuncture for your dog!

Most of you know about acupuncture, but how many know that it could be beneficial for your dog?

Acupuncture for animals has been around for nearly as long as for people. In the west, it has become more popular in the last 20-25 years, and we see more and more people using this therapy for their favourite pet. It has a very good therapeutic effect for a large number of animal diseases. Therefore, although pain moderation is an important part, it has much wider applications especially for dogs with the following problems:
Hip dysplacia
Back pain
Ligament damage
Intervertebral disc disease
Allergies and dermatitis
Respiratory problems

What you should expect during the treatment:
Relax; your dog certainly will. Acupuncture is painless. Sometimes there can be a reaction on first insertion of the needles, but generally, once the needles are in place the dog will relax.
There is no need for restraints in the majority of animals; some will even fall asleep during the treatment. The needles usually remain in place for about 20 minutes.
Most acute conditions need treatment twice a week and only need a couple of appointments.
Chronic conditions of course need more, but treated once a week. Sometimes improvement may occur after one or two treatments but generally, for chronic conditions it may take five or six sessions before we see a difference. It may happen that the dog appears worse after the first treatment, but it is rare and nothing to worry about.

Before treatment you should not feed the dog, avoid exercise and bathing. Certain prescribed drugs may alter the acupuncture effect and as such, we have to know what medication your dog is taking.

If you have any questions, please contact me on 660 032 862.
Alternatively, e-mail at

Robert Vandevelde

I feel so sorry for our dogs that, in the interest of money, breeders are prepared to sell them to unsuspecting people, knowing they will have pain for all of their lives. I still see dogs from one same breeder, time after time. Owners pay between 800 to 1000 euros per puppy, whilst still receiving assurances that he would never breed from any dogs that produce this dreaded disease. I still keep seeing them.

After forty years, from my first dog stricken with this disease, I have little sympathy with even the respectable breeders. They know that they could take steps to stop the breeding of such dogs. They and the Kennel clubs are capable of stopping this. All they need to do is simply issue problem cards for new owners with each puppy. If there is a problem, they return it to the Kennel club telling them who is still breeding this problem. If they knew, they could stop them, but they do nothing to help the situation. They could even publish a list of all those breeders that are not having this problem, but they do not. They just leave it to the Buyer beware, which if not protecting the purchaser, in my mind, it is an act of barbaric cruelty to the dogs they should be protecting.

If your puppy does have a problem, then most vets will ask owners where they purchased it. Before visiting any breeders, it could be worthwhile for you to ask the local vets for any help they can offer. You can even go to a local dog training class and ask for recommendations. If you see a good-looking older dog walking in the street, ask the owner if they know the dog’s breeder.

Before you purchase a puppy, do ask what will happen if you do find out your dog has a genetic problem. Do ask for this in writing. If you do unfortunately find such a problem, then go back to the breeder to complain and ask for a full refund. Even if they offer you another puppy, you know they will only have the one you have grown to love, put to sleep. Would you wish for another from that breeder?

Various breeders are profiting from the lifetime of pain inflicted on some dogs that they breed. It is therefore important to hit them where it counts most, in their pockets.

I very much doubt this problem is going to go away in the near future, but at least you have two more ways of alleviating the pain for your dog.


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