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Joint Problems in Catahoula Hounds

Catahoula breed of dog was originated in lands of North America. Catahoula breed dogs are also known by name “hog dog” and “Catahoula hounds”.  Catahoula dogs are very energetic dogs that are famous for their working abilities. They can survive even in the tough and harsh conditions. Therefore, they are used for the purpose of herding and hunting.

Before owing a Catahoula, you must know about the various health problems that are associated with this breed of dogs. These vibrant dogs try to keep themselves involved in physical activity but they are more prone to joint problems which can limit their activity. The common joint problem that affects Catahoula breed is “canine hip dysplasia”.

Canine hip dysplasia:

Canine hip dysplasia is a developmental joint disease in which there is malformation of hip joint. Hip dysplasia is the common cause of disability and lameness in large breed dogs. In hip dysplasia the growth of hip joint occurs abnormally, leading to lax and painful joint. As the hip joint is a weight bearing joint of body, so its deformity results in serious consequences. To understand the canine hip dysplasia, one must have the adequate knowledge about the normal structure of hip joint. Hip joint resembles like a ball and socket. The thigh bone has a round spherical head which rotates like a ball in the acetabulum cavity or socket of hip bone. In normal conditions, the thigh bone or femur fits properly into the hip bone. To provide strength to the joint, the hip joint is covered by a strong fibrous capsule and number of ligaments which hold the joint bones in their place. To ensure the smooth and free movement of bones in joints, the surfaces of bones are covered with slippery, tough, fibrous plates of connective tissue called as cartilages. The purpose of cartilage is to reduce the friction when the bones are rubbed against each other during movements.

In canine hip dysplasia, there is abnormal formation of hip bone. The hip bone socket or cavity becomes too shallow that it becomes difficult for thigh bone to fit correctly into hip bone. Due to this deformity, the ball of femur bone will not be adjusted in the socket of hip bone, causing the joint to become loose and lax. The misalignment of bones makes them to rub against each other roughly. This increases the friction between the bones which initiates the wearing and tearing of cartilages. Once the protective cartilages are worn out, the bones will come in direct contact with each other. The bony surfaces will become damaged and inflamed. So when the joint moves there will extreme excruciating pain.

How will you suspect canine hip dysplasia?

The following signs and symptoms will give you a hint about canine hip dysplasia:

  • Painful
  • Swollen joint
  • Lameness of hind limbs
  • Limping
  • Difficulty in getting up from sitting posture because there is inability to support the weight on hip joint.
  • Intolerance to physical activity and exercise
  • Dog becomes reluctant to jump or climb upstairs
  • Bunny hopping
  • Hind legs look closer as compared to front legs when the dog stands.
  • Muscle wastage
  • Irritable behavior

What are the culprits behind hip dysplasia?

The causes of hip dysplasia are categorized as follows:

  • Genetic causes:

Canine hip dysplasia is hereditary condition. The development of hip joint is under the control of multiple genes. Even a mutation in one gene can increase the risks of hip dysplasia. If the affected dogs breed, they can transfer this mutated gene to their offspring. So their offspring will be at higher risk of developing hip dysplasia.

  • Environmental causes:

Although the hereditary factors are the number one cause of hip dysplasia, but some environmental factors are also involved in triggering the abnormal growth of hip joint especially in young puppies who are predisposed to hip dysplasia. Following environmental factors contribute to cause hip dysplasia:

Weight gain:

Over feeding your dog just for the sake of making him strong and bulky should not be done because this can make your dog to put on extra weight and obese. Being overweight means there will be extra burden on the deformed hip joint of dog. Putting too much stress on affected joint will further exacerbate the symptoms of hip dysplasia.

Too much exercise:

Catahoula dogs love to do a lot physical activities but too much physical exertion can sometimes aggravate the hip dysplasia especially in dogs who are genetically predisposed to it.

Under nutrition:

Lack of essential vitamins, minerals and calcium which are necessary for the growth of bones can also cause hip dysplasia.

Over nutrition:

Like under nutrition, the over nutrition is also not good for the dogs. Adding too much nutritional supplements to diet makes your dog obese which aggravates the hip dysplasia:

 How to prevent and cure it?

It is very difficult to treat the hip dysplasia. Only surgery can do the permanent cure of hip dysplasia. But there are some preventive measure that should be followed to slow down the wearing and tearing in affected joint.

  • Weight management:

Reduce the weight of dog. Losing some weight will relieve the pain and inflammation up to some extent by reducing burden on affected joint.

  • Limit activity:

Restrict the physical activity of dog to limit the degeneration of joint.

  • Food supplements:

Add some nutritional supplements to diet in recommended amounts.

  • Medicines:

Analgesics and anti inflammatory medicines can be given to suppress the pain and inflammation.

  • Physiotherapy:

Light exercises like walking, swimming and hydrotherapy should be preferred to improve the muscle strength.

  • Surgical procedures:

Pelvic osteotomy:

In this procedure the socket of hip bone is reshaped for the proper fixation of femur

Arthroplasty:

In arthroplasty the damaged tissue is removed and head of femur is remodeled and realigned into hip bone socket.

Hip replacement:

In more severe cases, the whole joint is replaced by an artificial joint.