Early Onset of Arthritis or Hip Dysplasia

by Joan

Reader Question: Hip Dysplasia or Arthritis:

Our 5-year-old Golden Retriever went for a long (though not unusual walk) and the next day we noticed he was having a difficult time sitting down (he'd hesitate half way and then sit). Clearly, in some discomfort, he also seemed weak rising from a sitting/laying position.

We took him to the vet the next evening and they said it might be a muscle pull and from the x-rays, he seems to also have mild-moderate arthritis. They gave him Carprofen for 4 days to see if it would help the discomfort. The last pill was this morning, I haven't noticed a huge difference, he still seems extra careful when sitting, slightly more stiff after a long period of sitting and less excited overall.

I'm now wondering what to do next. Should I start supplementing with glucosamine tablets and omega-3? Is it hip dysplasia or is it early onset of arthritis or both (hip dysplasia is a risk factor for arthritis).

Will this pass say if it's a muscle pull? Feeling a bit lost on what the best next step should be to help my puppy.

Any advice is appreciated.


Suggestion From Our Veterinarian

Hi Joan,

It certainly wouldn’t hurt to start omega-3 and glucosamine supplements at this point, but it’s hard to say how helpful they might be since we don’t know exactly what is going on with your dog. Hip dysplasia can sometimes be diagnosed on “regular” x-rays, but in early or milder cases special x-rays (PennHIP or OFA) are necessary.

If your dog has arthritis (regardless of whether or not it has occurred as a result of hip dysplasia), he will need long term management with some combination of pain relievers, anti-inflammatories, nutritional supplements, weight management, physical therapy, acupuncture, cold laser therapy, etc. to remain comfortable and active. Keep in mind that arthritis is progressive so most dogs require more intervention as they get older.

I am also wondering whether or not your dog’s knees may be involved in what is going on. Dogs with symptoms and a history like you describe will sometimes have a partial tear of their cruciate ligament(s). If you are unsure of your dog’s diagnosis it certainly wouldn’t hurt to get a second opinion from a veterinarian who specializes in orthopedic issues.

Best of luck,

Jennifer Coates, DVM

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