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Bone Health

Rocky Mountain Companion

Dogs of Fennario

Beginning research for your new dog, probably the first thing you encountered was a barrage of questions asking if the parents had been “health tested”.   That’s a generally broad term that most refer to making sure the parents do not carry any congenital defects. The dog’s x-rays have been certified clear of hip dysplasia , and perhaps have had their bloodwork analyzed and certified by Dr. Dodd’s Hemo-pet as free of Thyroiditis. There are a few other standards, but none so respected as

OFA certification.

The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals looks for symptoms of hip dysplasia in the X-rays of dogs. There is a scale of ratings,  as some dogs will show “signs” of future problems, and some dogs show active dysplastic conditions.  Hip dysplasia is a condition in which the ball of the joint will sit poorly in the socket. It creates ‘loose’ hips, which get progressively worse over the dog’s lifetime, causing pain and eventually leading to loss of mobility.  The condition is poly-genetic which means the inherited causes are located on many different genes.

For many years, the veterinary and breeder circles alike had thought the cause to be primarily genetic.  Now, 2021 is seeing new information come to light that early onset of hip dysplasia in some dogs from varying breeds, could be environmental.  Our preferred learning center, The Canine Institute of Biology is spear-heading a research project that concerns the development of the puppy’s hips on man-made environments. I can’t wait to see their conclusions, and data resolving the potential for environmental factors.

I believe that age- of-onset will determine the largest percentage of environmental vs. inheritable Hip Dysplasia.  If symptoms and mobility of the condition show prior to four years old, it is more than likely genetic. If the condition presents itself anytime after 6 years old, it is probably the result of environmental wear and tear on the combined with poly-genetics. Anytime after 10 years of age are the effects of natural aging.

The web is over whelming with information about Hip Dysplasia, I encourage you to do some research—here is a few links to get you started

Institute of Canine Biology—Understanding Hip Dysplasia—Online Course completed 2019

Overview of Hip Dysplasia Certification by Pet Ponder


In the mean time, breeders of man best friend must proceed on the side of caution, assuming genetic propensity for the condition is inherited.  OFA certification is always best done after two years of age. Auggie is five years old now, and has not to date shown any signs of looseness in the hips. There is no history of hip dysplasia within a few generations before or after his grand self.  It only takes a short while before even the untrained eye can discern his frame is quite solid.  However, it has suddenly become obvious to me that I won’t be able to provide that visual in ten years.  I have determined to submit x rays of Auggie’s hips this summer.   The same holds true for Bonnie’s heritage. There is no loosness in either parent of hers, although neither have had x-rays done, I am confident in my research that HD is not prevalent in her lines.  Proof of her solid hips will also be submitted to the OFA this year.

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