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Dr. Taus
Dr. Taus, Veterinarian
Category: Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 505
Experience:  Veterinarian with experience in equine and small animal medicine.
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I have a 5 month old female St. Bernard who has just been diagnosed

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I have a 5 month old female St. Bernard who has just been diagnosed with hip displacia. Maybe a birth defect my Vet suggested. She had a sedated xray verifying it. She is currently on Medicam for discomfort and inflammatory. I give her hip and joint supplement treats. But just recently she is starting to walk like her front legs are stiff, she doesn't bend them. Is there anything that you can suggest for her, i have come to just love her, she is patient, very loving and such a beauty. My heart is breaking. Would surgery be a possibilty? And if so, the cost. I am a single mother. And could i possibly enhanced her condition by spaying her at a young age? Please help. Tammy
Hi there,
I'm so sorry to hear your puppy has hip dysplasia. How sad and frustrating!

First of all, don't blame yourself. Spaying her at an early age would not have changed anything. Hip dysplasia is, first and foremost, genetic, with some influence of diet (more on that in a bit). In females, especially,hormones at her age don't have much influence on the rate of bone growth. However, she should be spayed because dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred (because their puppies are likely to be affected).

For her front legs, I'd advise you that genetic musculoskeletal problems often come in bunches. Elbow dysplasia is commonly seen in dogs with hip dysplasia. Another possibility is panosteitis, an inflammation of the growth plates that happens as large breed dogs grow. It can be quite uncomfortable and can cause fever. Fortunately, it usually passes by the time the dog is skeletally mature (about 2 years old). To differentiate these problems, I'd recommend an x-ray of the front limbs, just as your vet did with the back ones. Bear in mind, however, that most of the time, these problems are treated with time, rest, and pain medication, which is what you are already doing. You may be able to get more information about what is going on, but if you don't need to put a name on the condition, you may be better served to spend your money on medicine than on more x-rays.

Surgery is an option for hip dysplasia. Total hip replacement is one option for very bad hips, but it is only done at specialty centers and it is very expensive (several thousand dollars). Other surgical options have pros and cons and are best discussed with the vet who is reading your x-rays, to tell which procedure is best for your dog. Orthopedic surgery prices vary from clinic to clinic, but if the price you are quoted is less than $800, I would question what is being left out (pain medication? aftercare?). Many dogs live with some level of hip dysplasia and can be kept comfortable with medication, and can have salvage surgery later in life to remove the joint if it is needed. This is harder to do in big dogs that carry more weight in their hips, but it is possible.

I would recommend continuing the medication and supplements. Vitamin E is good and has anti-inflammatory effects. She can and should get out and walk and move, but don't push her to do more than she wants to. She should be fed a diet formulated especially for large breed puppies until she is at least 2, as that will have the right calcium and phosphorus and protein balance to avoid making her problems worse. Be careful to keep her at a healthy body weight, so that there is less stress on her joints.

I hope this is helpful. If so, please rate me positively, and don't hesitate to let me know how I can help further.
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