Hip Dysplasia in Pugs: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

hip dysplasia in pugs

Hip dysplasia in Pugs is a genetic predisposition characterized by an inclination toward hip joint laxity during the early stages of life. This laxity leads to a decreased congruence between the typically snug “ball” and “socket” components of the hip joint. The ball becomes flattened and distorted, while the socket becomes shallower.

What causes hip dysplasia in Pugs?

The root cause of this condition is primarily genetic, although other factors like obesity during growth may play a role in determining whether an animal with the hip dysplasia gene will exhibit a more pronounced clinical expression. Currently, it is estimated that over a hundred genes are responsible for hip dysplasia. It’s worth mentioning that environmental factors have no impact on the development of this condition, and there’s no evidence to support the idea that excessive exercise during growth contributes to its occurrence.

How can I determine if my Pug has hip dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia is the most prevalent orthopedic condition in canines. It primarily affects larger breed dogs, although it may also occur in smaller breeds such as French bulldogs and Pugs. The onset of clinical symptoms can vary, but it is typically diagnosed between 6 and 12 months of age. Clinical symptoms are highly varied and may include a rigid gait, reduced tolerance for exercise, difficulty getting up or lying down, challenges in climbing stairs, and an unsteady stance or slouched back. Painful symptoms are uncommon in dogs during daily activities, however dogs with osteoarthritic hips may display discomfort during examination by a veterinarian.

What happens inside the joint?

The pain is caused by repetitive injury to the soft tissues in the joint and microfractures of the bone and cartilage surfaces that rub against each other. As the erosion of cartilage advances, the pain becomes more intense and it is a condition known as osteoarthritis.

Hip dysplasia in Pugs  is usually diagnosed using a combination of different methods, which may include:

– the owner observing certain signs

 – a veterinarian exam

 The owner may notice symptoms like:

• Decreased ability to exercise

• Struggles with standing, sitting, or lying down

• Challenges climbing stairs or getting in/out of a car

• Abnormal walking, sometimes described as “wobbling”

• Limitations on one or both hind legs

• Discomfort when the hip is touched during grooming or bathing.

If your vet noticed your dog walking abnormally or experiencing pain in its hips during regular check-ups, they may suspect changes in the hip joint and require a radiograph. To take these x-rays, the dog needs to lie on its back with its hind legs extended. This position may be uncomfortable for the dog, so it may need to be sedated or even put under anesthesia.

How is hip dysplasia in Pugs treated?

The best way to treat hip dysplasia depends on various factors, with the severity of the clinical symptoms being the most crucial. For some dogs, the symptoms are mild, and the diagnosis of hip dysplasia is a chance finding during a screening test (such as for breeding purposes). For others, the clinical signs are more apparent, and the treatment aims to not only address current issues but also to prevent any future complications.

hip dysplasia in pugs

Non-surgical Treatment

For Pugs diagnosed with dysplasia as an incidental finding, a non-surgical approach is typically recommended. The effectiveness of this approach for dogs with clinical signs of hip dysplasia depends on the presence of hip pain. Non-surgical treatment involves weight management, physical therapy, modification of exercise, and use of pain and anti-inflammatory medications. A combination of these measures can lead to improvement in most dogs, though maintaining a pain-free state is often challenging over the long term. With age, affected dogs may experience limited mobility and decreased fitness. They may also exhibit pain during the joint examination.

Surgical Treatment

Surgical treatments for hip dysplasia in Pugs can be grouped into procedures that modify the anatomy of the hip and procedures that preserve the hip but alter its relationships. Further information about these procedures is available.

Juvenile pubic symphysiodesis (JPS)

This procedure involves inducing premature fusion of the central part of the pelvis, with the goal of changing the growth and position of the “ball and socket.” It’s a simple operation that uses electro-cauterization on the lower side of the pelvis. For the best results, Pugs must be no older than 5 months and have mild to moderate hip laxity, as confirmed through manipulative and radiographic tests. Since most Pugs don’t show symptoms until they’re at least 6 months old, JPS is a preventive procedure. All dogs undergoing JPS must also be sterilized at the same time.

Double pelvic osteotomy (DPO)

This surgery involves changing the existing hip joint to make the fit of the femoral head into its socket better. The procedure involves making two cuts and rotating the pelvic bone so that the socket of the femoral head fits more closely around the head of the femur. The bone segments are then secured in place using a special plate and screws. It takes around 4-6 weeks for the bones to heal. DPO is only effective in dogs with loose hips and no secondary bone changes or later development of osteoarthritis. To be considered for DPO, a dog needs to have a specific series of tests and X-rays performed by skilled orthopedic surgeons.

Total hip replacement (THR)

Total hip replacement is an advanced surgical procedure. It involves the removal of the entire damaged hip joint. The “ball” is replaced with a metal ball-shaped implant, and the “socket” is replaced with plastic and metal implants. Implants can be attached to the bone using bone cement or may have a porous coating for bone ingrowth. 

The recommended method will depend on the case. 

If surgery on both hips is necessary, they are never done at the same time to reduce the risk of potential complications. The success rate for THR is around 90-95%, and most dogs are more comfortable within a few days of the operation. The good thing is that many dogs will be able to return to their previous level of activity.

The femoral head and neck excision (FHNE)

This procedure is a solution for situations where a hip implant can’t be done, like due to financial reasons. The technique involves removing the head and neck of the femur bone to create a connection called a “false joint.” This eliminates pain by removing the bone contact, but the “false joint” is limited in its function, making the outcome uncertain, especially in big dogs. Intense physical therapy is necessary after FHNE.

Hip dysplasia in Pugs: Wrapping up

The early diagnosis and management of this condition can greatly improve the quality of life for affected dogs. Although it may require a combination of medical, surgical and lifestyle interventions, the outcome is usually favorable with proper care. 

The key to preventing or managing hip dysplasia in Pugs is to work closely with a veterinarian and to make lifestyle changes that promote healthy bones and joints. Regular check-ups, exercise, and proper nutrition are essential components of hip dysplasia management in Pugs. By taking proactive steps to address this condition, Pugs can lead happy, healthy lives and enjoy all the joys that come with being a beloved pet.