Charlie, a Great Dane, was diagnosed at 11 months old with severe hip dysplasia. We got Charlie at 6 weeks old and he had parvo, a dangerous virus for canines, and almost died. We got him through that but as he was growing I could tell something was very wrong. He would have a lot of trouble getting up from a laying position and acted like he was an old dog at just a few months old. When he was 11 months I took him in to get fixed and ask the vet to take x-rays of his hips while he was under because I thought something was going on with his hips. Sadly, I was right.
When I came to pick up Charlie the vet showed me the x-rays. He described Charlie as having severe hip dysplasia with both hips equally bad. He said with Charlie's size and the fact that he was still growing it would get very bad. All the vet could say was, "I'm really sorry." My heart sank. I thought, "He is bad now, this is only going to get worse and he isn't even one year old yet!" I immediately called my wholistic vet, Dr. Karen Becker, to set up an appointment to see what I could do to help Charlie.
She went over the x-rays with me and explained the good news. The cartilage in Charlie's hips was still in great shape because he was so young. What happens with hip dysplasia is the end of the femur head, or caput, has a loose or partial fit instead of being snug like a healthy hip. It also is not smooth or round, causing friction and abnormal wear and tear. It's basically bouncing around in the hip joint causing damage to the cartilage. So Dr. Becker explained we needed to accomplish two things: first, keep the muscles built up with exercise to help support the joint as best as possible, and second, help the body make cartilage that will be damaged on a regular basis so he doesn't end up "bone on bone" and loaded with arthritis. So our journey started.
We made sure Charlie got a lot of leash walks to keep those muscles strong. This also helped so much with his running. That dog loved to run and since the muscles were so strong he never injured himself. He would run so fast sometimes I thought he wasn't going to be able to stop! The next thing I did was get him on great joint support. I started him with a loading dose and then eventually had him on a maintenance dose. I used the Overby Farm, Hip Flex Level 3 which has tart cherries in it. Tart cherries are amazing for keeping down inflammation which causes pain. I also had him on a super-premium salmon oil which is not only great for the joints but amazing for the heart and skin too. The salmon oil is made by Wholistic Pet Organics.
So how did I know my natural routine was working? When Charlie was 4 years old I switched vets. When I brought Charlie in for his exam I did not mention the hip dysplasia. The vet thoroughly examined Charlie. He actually took his legs and extended them straight back and I thought okay he is going to tell me that his hips are bad, but instead the veterinarian finished examining Charlie and said, "Wow, he is in great shape." I asked how his hips felt, and the vet replied, "Great," and he also said his muscle tone was great too. That is when I broke the news that he has hip dysplasia, and the vet responded, "I would have never thought that!" How cool is that?
Charlie never needed to go on any pain meds for his hips. Unfortunately, Charlie died unexpectedly at 5 years of age but I'm happy to say he had amazing quality of life with no hip pain at all. Because we were able to begin natural treatment of his hip dysplasia as a puppy, he was able to enjoy his favorite activity--running--with no pain or discomfort. By using the right natural treatments, Charlie was able to live life normally as though he didn't have hip dysplasia.