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Hip and Joint Problems In Chows

Chow is a large, sturdy and powerful dog breed. This dog breed is blessed with strong bony and muscular development. It has two unique features: one is its blue-black tongue and other is its straight hind limbs producing stilted gait. Behind its large and broad head lies a huge ruff, giving it a lion-like appearance. It has abundant furry covering which can be either smooth or rough. As its build reflects, it can perform a number of tasks such as hunting (of wolves, sable and pheasant), herding, pulling cart and sled and protection. Chow is an ancient breed almost 2000 years old originally from northern China. This dog should be trained verbally, it will never respond to physical abuse. It needs regular outdoor activity and temperate or cool weather. Its lifespan is 8-12 years.

Joint Problems

Joint is a point where two bones unite; each end of a bone is covered by a thick, cushiony layer of cartilage which is coated by a slippery membrane called as synovium. The space between two bones is filled with a fluid that provides lubrication, and this whole structure of bones is held in place by fibrous tissues and ligaments. Joint problems occur when joints become loose or due to wear and tear of its cartilages and ligaments. Joint problem can be either developmental or degenerative.

Is this Breed Prone to some Joint Diseases?

Some breeds are prone to specific diseases. Due to its large weight and size this breed is prone to Hip dysplasia, and less commonly to Elbow dysplasia.

Here it is important to understand what dysplasia is? Dysplasia is an abnormal development of an organ or part of the body.

  • HIP DYSPLASIA: In normal hip joint, head of femur bone fits into acetabulum( concave space) of hip bone. This joint is of ball and socket type allowing movement in 3 directions. Hip dysplasia is abnormal formation of hip joint leading to painful and stiff joint.
  • ELBOW DYSPLASIA: Elbow dysplasia is developmental abnormality of elbow joint, specifically of the cartilage.

Causes of Joint Problems

Like humans, joint problems in dogs can occur due to several causes, some are listed as follows:-

  • AGING: – With age wear and tear of cartilages occurs due to which joints become loose and inflamed. Arthritis (degenerative disease of joints) is particularly associated with aging.
  • GENETIC (HEREDITARY) CAUSES: – Most important cause of hip or elbow dysplasia is genetic predisposition i.e. dogs are born with joints that will deteriorate at some point in their life.
  • ENVIRONMENTAL CAUSES: – Environmental causes exert great influences on the joints of this population. These causes include:-
  • Injury or trauma to joints that damages cartilages or ligaments.
  • Overextension at a specific joint. Every joint has certain limit of extension, beyond which the joint breaks.
  • Repetitive pressure on forming joints. In dogs under the age of 1year, joints are delicate.
  • These are in the process of maturation and there displacement can occur by heavy pressure.
  • NUTRITIONAL CAUSES: – Diet lacking in calcium, proteins and vitamin C can cause many joint disorders.
  • OBESITY: – Obesity can lead to rapid degeneration of joints in chows.


Major symptoms of joint damage in this breed are as follows:

  • Joint stiffness after rising from rest.
  • Pain in hips and elbows.
  • Pain/trouble while walking, standing and sitting.
  • Reluctance to stand, jump or climb stairs.
  • Abnormal gait (while running legs move together rather than swinging alternately).
  • Decreased appetite
  • Shivering
  • Excessive panting
  • Limping
  • Swelling in the joints

Diagnostic Test:

  • Complete physical examination.
  • X-Rays of hip, elbow and spine.  X-ray evaluates internal state of joint.
  • CT-Scan can also help.

Treatment And Prevention:-

Non Surgical Interventions

  • Weight control is necessary.
  • Medication is aimed at treating the pain and inflammation as well as protecting the cartilage.
  • Exercise to keep muscles active and strong.
  • Massage alleviates pain and increases blood flow to that part.
  • NSAIDS act as analgesic and anti-inflammatory agents. Typical NSAIDS for dysplasia and arthritis are carprofen and meloxicam.
  • Nutritional supplements like chondroitin and glucosamine help in joint repair for dogs.
  • Analgesics can help reduce pain.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids supplements can help in treating inflammation.
  • Steroids like prednisone or prednisolone are also helpful.
  • Laser therapy may also help to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Take care while handling a chow that is in pain.
  • Provide good place for sleep to a dog and a soft pillow.

Surgical Interventions:-

Hip reshaping (in which we reshape the joint to help movement or reduce pain) and hip replacement (complete replacement of damaged hip with an artificial joint) in hip dysplasia.

Elbow replacement in elbow dysplasia. It is more complex.

Bio scaffold implant procedure: in this procedure we implant bio scaffold into intra articular areas. It is very helpful in hip and elbow dysplasia.

Dysplasia can be prevented by selection of offspring whose parents and grandparents have been certified to have excellent hip conformation.