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By Kat Lacy

Hip dysplasia is a condition in which the hip’s ball-in-socket joint does not form properly. Dogs with this condition are prone to severe arthritis. It commonly affects large breed dogs, especially Rottweilers and German Shepards, though it occurs in many large breeds. There has been great controversy over whether or not this is strictly hereditary or is caused by environmental conditions.

Wendell Belfield, D.V.M. reported in Veterinary Medicine/Small Animal Clinician that high amounts of vitamin C provided 100 percent prevention of hip dysplasia in eight litters of German shepherd pups coming from parents that either had the condition themselves or had previously produced offspring with it. He uses an extensive program for the pregnant female and for the puppies, from birth till 18 months of age. The program is described in Natural Health for Dogs and Cats, by Richard H. Pitcairn, D.V.M., Ph.D. & Susan Hubble Pitcairn, page 280-281. Very few people can follow the program with their already grown puppies or dogs, but there are a few simple yet effective recommendations to help your pet stay healthy.

• If you are not already feeding a natural diet to your dog, then start doing so as soon as possible. If it is unfeasible to cook for your pet, then buy from a reputable natural diet dealer such as Wysong or Natura.

• Supplement with vitamin C. The amount should depend on whether your dog is afflicted or not, its size and age, generally anywhere between 500 milligrams and two grams a day. • Flaxseed oil. All natural, bio-electron process, preferably BARLEANS organic oils. High in EFAs (essential fatty acids), this oil acts as a cell barrier protector against toxic intruders, thus keeping the beneficial things in the cell. With a good multi-vitamin and mineral intake in your pet’s natural diet, this oil can be extremely beneficial in preventing arthritis which may occur with hip malformations.

• Glucosamine nutrient bonded with HCl (hydrochloric acid) has remarkable results on rebuilding damaged cartilage. The HCl version will be less expensive and just as effective to use. Some large breeds may not be able to produce this substance in large enough amounts to prevent cartilage damage. The hip may form incorrectly as a result of weak ligaments and muscles around the joints.

• Extra calcium supplements. Richard H. Pitcairn, D.V.M., in Natural Health for Dogs and Cats, states: “Do not succumb to the fallacy that too much calcium in the diet causes this problem. Another foolish idea is that hip dysplasia is caused by dogs growing too fast. Some people actually advocate restricting food or protein to prevent the puppy from developing normally. They think that keeping it small will somehow prevent the problem. It does not.” All of the natural substances listed above are not only good for bones, joints, and cartilage, but are also essential in maintaining overall health and prevention of disease.

Although it is common practice for reputable breeders to certify their breeding stock with the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, hip dysplasia still seems to manifest even in sound breeding stock. Also, unfortunately for many dog owners, there is not a large enough number of reputable dog breeders around. We all need to listen to the common sense of natural prevention. If we can eliminate the painful and debilitating dysplasia of the hips through prevention, then the hereditary factor will soon follow. Breeders must do everything they can not to breed afflicted dogs and follow the above guidelines. We can also ease the pain and stop the continued degeneration of hip dysplasia in our pets that are already afflicted by following these guidelines. Maybe someday hip dyspasia will be a “thing” of the past, along with the unsavory backyard dog breeder.

If you suspect your pet to be prone to hip dysplasia, we strongly recommend you consult your veterinarian. This article is for your information only, not to replace your veterinarian’s suggestions or expertise. Please talk to your veterinarian before starting any new dietary or supplementation programs.

Kat Lacy is the owner of Better Life Natural Pet Products, in Las Cruces.

Note: This article first appeared in the Spring 1998 issue.

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