Denver Animal Chiropractic

How Chiropractic Can Help with Canine Hip Dysplasia

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What is Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD)?

Canine hip dysplasia is a common skeletal condition affecting the hip (coxofemoral joint). It occurs when a dog’s hip joint(s) doesn’t develop correctly. Just like people, a dog’s hip joint functions as a ball and socket. In a healthy hip joint, the ball (femoral head) and socket (acetabulum) move together, sliding smoothly. The femoral head should fit inside of the acetabulum and move snugly without friction. In dogs with CHD, the joint doesn't develop properly and the ball and socket grind and rub against one another. Over time, the constant grinding causes an overall deterioration (arthritis) and an eventual loss of function of the joint itself.

What Causes Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD)?

CHD is a genetic condition, though environmental and dietary factors can contribute to the problem. It is typically more prevalent in larger dog breeds like Saint Bernards, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds but dogs of all sizes and breeds are susceptible. 

What are Symptoms of Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD)?

Symptoms of CHD can range from painful joints, difficulty moving and general stiffness to extreme difficulty getting around, hind-end weakness and lameness. 

Some common symptoms to watch for are:

  • “Bunny-hopping” - using both back legs at the same when running

  • A swaying gait

  • Audible clicking sound coming from hips while walking

  • Pain when touched in hip or pelvic area

  • Difficulty standing up, lying down or climbing stairs

  • A reluctance to exercise or play

  • Limping and lameness

These symptoms can be seen in puppies as early as a few months old but are most common in dogs one or two years of age. If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog it’s important to take them to your vet so that a proper diagnosis can be made. Your vet will typically perform a physical exam and take x-rays to determine the degree and severity of the hip dysplasia, which will help determine the best course of treatment for your dog.

How Can Chiropractic Help with Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD)?

The bad news is that there is no cure or way to prevent hip dysplasia because it’s almost always inherited. The good news is that there are a lot of options to treat and manage dogs that have CHD. 

For those dog’s that may not be a candidate for surgery or owners that opt for a conservative approach to managing symptoms of CHD, chiropractic is a great option. 

Chiropractic can help by:

  • Keeping your dog’s skeletal system healthy at an early age. Even if your puppy isn’t displaying any symptoms of CHD, it’s important that they develop proper range of movement and have any joint restrictions (subluxations) corrected so that they don’t become worse as your dog ages.

  • Chiropractic reduces inflammation. Studies have shown that swelling and edema happen at a restricted joint and results in the production and release of inflammatory cytokines that cause chronic inflammation. Hip dysplasia causes a restricted hip joint which creates a lot of inflammation which in turn can be very painful for your dog and can lead to other illnesses.

  • As CHD progresses you will likely see your dog favoring one side of their body in order to compensate for instability in the hip. Some dogs also move in ways to put less pressure on the painful hip socket such as running with both hind limbs together, resembling a bunny hop. This can lead to compensation injuries in other parts of your dogs body. A visit to your animal chiropractor makes sure that these compensations are addressed so that they don’t negatively affect their healthy joints. 


If your dog is affected by canine hip dysplasia and you’re looking for conservative options to help control their symptoms, stop the progression, and prevent any compensations in other parts of their body, we’d love to talk with you. Call 720.350.4353 to schedule a FREE CONSULTATION or Book online.

How Chiropractic Can Help with Degenerative Joint Disease in Dogs

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WHAT IS DEGENERATIVE JOINT DISEASE (DJD)?

Degenerative joint disease (DJD) is more commonly known as osteoarthritis. It is a progressive, non-infectious condition of weight-bearing joints leading to the loss of joint movement and, in many cases, pain. Degenerative joint disease is characterized by thinning cartilage, buildup of fluid within the joint, and the formation of bony outgrowths (osteophytes) around the joint. This joint degeneration can be caused by trauma, infection, the body’s own immune system, malformation during development but is most commonly caused by aging changes in a joint or by mechanical instability (hip or elbow dysplasia, torn anterior cruciate ligament, luxating patella, etc.). This ultimately leads to inflammation of the joint membrane, continued cartilage destruction and abnormal joint function. 

WHAT ARE SYMPTOMS OF DEGENERATIVE JOINT DISEASE (DJD) IN DOGS?

Degenerative joint disease is the number one cause of chronic pain in dogs, affecting one in five adult dogs, with the incidence more than doubling in dogs seven years and older. Most often, the clinical signs of degenerative joint disease (DJD) include:

Limping: Limping is the number one sign of degenerative joint disease in dogs. If your dog is favoring one or more limbs, especially when they stand up from a lying or seated position, there’s a good possibility they are dealing with arthritic joints. Often, the limp will be less pronounced after they have been moving around for a while.

Changes in Daily Activity: Dogs with degenerative joint disease often display reluctance or an inability to do certain things they once did with ease. For example, your dog may be hesitant to jump into or out of your car or they may have trouble with stairs.

Poor Posture: Degenerative joint disease occurs in certain areas of the spine which can cause your dog to have abnormal posture. They may hold their head lower than normal or have an inability to raise or turn their neck properly. They may also adopt sort of a hunchback posture or lameness in one or both hind legs. You may also notice that your dog is favoring one side while sitting which is called ‘puppy sitting’; your dog should be sitting evenly on both legs. 

Fatigue: Dogs with degenerative joint disease tend to tire more easily than dogs with healthy joints. They may also be reluctant to go on walks or want to go on shorter walks. Overall, you may notice your dog is spending less time moving around and more time resting or sleeping.

Irritability: The discomfort of degenerative joint disease can make even the most easy-going dog a bit snappish, especially if they’re being pet or handled in a way that increases their pain. They may also hide away in a corner, tucked away from other pets and family members. 

Licking, chewing and biting at specific areas of the body: Some dogs with degenerative joint disease lick, chew or bite at the skin overlying a painful joint in an attempt to get some relief. If this behavior becomes obsessive, your dog can develop inflamed skin, hair loss and hot spots over the affected areas. 

If you start noticing any of the changes in your dogs’ behavior mentioned above, the best place to start is to see your veterinarian so they can assess the severity of the condition and properly diagnose your dog. Your vet will typically examine the joints, feel the range of motion and may even take x-rays. And don’t forget, dogs mask their pain, so even the smallest indications are worth the trip to your veterinarian. 


HOW CAN CHIROPRACTIC HELP DOGS THAT HAVE DEGENERATIVE JOINT DISEASE (DJD)?

Degenerative joint disease (DJD) is a progressive disease, and there is no cure. But there are still many ways to manage DJD effectively. Most dogs can alleviate their degenerative joint disease symptoms with a combination of weight control, exercise, medication, supplements and chiropractic care. 

The goal of chiropractic care for dogs that have degenerative joint disease is to improve joint mechanics by improving spinal motion, reducing inflammation, slow down joint degeneration and reduction of compensation of other limbs. 

Improve Joint Mechanics by Improving Spinal Motion: If your dog has degenerative joint disease in their spine or extremities it can cause restrictions which presents as abnormal motion. A certified animal chiropractor will evaluate all of the joints in your dogs body to make sure that they are working properly. If the chiropractor finds a restriction, an area where the spine or extremity is not moving properly, they will apply a gentle thrust to fix the misalignment therefore allowing your dog to move with ease without the pain and restrictions the misalignment was causing. 

Reduction of Inflammation: Inflammation in itself is not harmful. In fact, it’s a normal and healthy attempt by the body to preserve itself. Inflammation helps remove harmful debris like irritants and pathogens from the body so that the healing process can begin. The problem begins when regular inflammation becomes chronic. Degenerative joint disease causes chronic inflammation of the affected joints. Studies have shown that chiropractic adjustments help reduce the production of two inflammatory cytokines (IL-6 and CRP), which can reduce inflammation throughout the body therein reducing pain for your dog. 

Slow Down Joint Degeneration: One of the main causes of joint degeneration is misalignment of the spine or extremities which causes chronic mechanical stress on a joint and causes joint cartilage to soften and degenerate. When your dog receives chiropractic care and their joints are aligned properly, this reduces the ‘wear and tear’ on the joint that the misalignment was causing therefore slowing down the degenerative process. 

Compensation of Other Limbs: In order for your dog to function and move properly, all of their limbs need to be applying the same amount of force while bearing weight. If your dog develops degenerative joint disease they typically won’t put weight on the affected area, causing extra strain on the other healthy parts of the body. Receiving chiropractic care will ensure that the affected area is moving properly and that your dog can distribute their weight evenly so that they won’t compensate and injure the healthy parts of their body. 

If your dog has been diagnosed with degenerative joint disease and you’re looking for a way to get to the root of the problem and find relief, please contact our office to schedule a free consultation. We’re here for you and your dog’s healthcare needs.

Top 5 Reasons Your Dog Needs A Chiropractor

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Are you tired of seeing your dog in pain or struggle with their loss of agility? Have you tried medications or other veterinary interventions to help relieve their discomfort, but haven’t seen the results you seek? If your dog hasn’t responded well or has had negative side effects from medications or other standard treatments, or if your dog isn’t a candidate for surgery, it may be time for you to consider a dog chiropractor. The following are the top five reason your dog needs a chiropractor.

1) Musculoskeletal Conditions

Degenerative Joint Disease (arthritis, osteoarthritis)

Disc Herniation

Hip Dysplasia

Joint Dysfunction

Lameness or Changes in Gait

Muscle Spasms

Neck, Back and Extremity Pain

Pain When Being Touched, Pet or Lifted

2) Neurological Conditions

Ataxia (“drunken sailors gait”)

Paralysis

Paresthesia

Seizures

3) Senior Dogs

Changes in Gait

Degenerative Arthritis

Difficulty Climbing Stairs or Jumping

Difficulty Standing Up From A Lying Position

Reluctance or Difficulty Lying Down From A Standing Position

4) Performance Dogs

Changes in Performance

Difficulty Going Through Weave Polls

Hesitating or Refusal of Jumps

Knocking Down Jumps

Lack of Coordination

5) Wellness

Maintenance of Joint and Spinal Health

Your dog can benefit from an adjustment whether they are showing symptoms or not. Waiting until your pet is in pain or can no longer walk as a result of certain musculoskeletal conditions is much more difficult to manage and no one wants to see their dog suffer. Schedule your free consultation so we can talk more in depth about your specific healthcare needs 720.350.4353.