Advice for a big dog with an ailing hip

April 27, 2008

Texas and Georgia are six years old now. For a Great Dane, that’s not young. Georgia is as spry as ever and has only a small amount of gray in her black coat. Texas, The Old Man with lots of gray, occasionally shows signs of a painful hip. It’s by no means debilitating for him, and he seems perfectly fine except for a handful of times a year when he seems to really be in pain.

My sister has worked in the veterinary industry for ages and has recently become involved in the holistic area of veterinary practice. She is currently in the planning stages of opening an integrative practice where animals can be treated with the best of all modalities.

When Texas had his last episode this week, I emailed her for advice on what direction to go for the poor old guy. Her answer was so thorough and helpful, that I thought I would share it here in case any of you had similar troubles.

Hey, sorry to hear he had an episode again…there could be several reasons that this is happening. We could be seeing degeneration of the hip joint which causes the muscles to tense up until there is an acute pain; there could be an inherent tendon or ligament weakness that could flare up when moved in a certain direction; or there could just be a particular activity or movement which creates an acute pain. So, if you want to locate the source, I would recommend seeing a vet to assess the area including x-raying the hips.
In terms of treatment, I would recommend:
A glucosamine with MSM supplement that is designed for dogs (these products are more bio-available for the dogs) such as Dasuquin w/ MSM, Synovi G3 or Glyco-Flex III. You can get these through your vet or at various online retailers.
Use a salmon oil supplement such as Grizzly Salmon Oil, Omega 3 fatty acids are excellent for joint and muscle care.
An antioxidant for dogs using algae would be a good supplement. I use one from a company called Animal Essentials. It is Organic Green Alternative Herbal Supplement. It’s a powder that I sprinkle on their food after I add the Grizzly Salmon Oil.
For the acute discomfort, I would recommend getting Arnica 30c from Whole Foods and giving 1 dose (the bottle dispenses the right dose amount in the lid) orally, followed by another 6 hours later. Arnica is a homeopathic remedy that addresses inflammation. It was what I used after my cat bite to minimize bruising and swelling. I have also used it on my animals with success.
I would recommend having him see an animal chiropractor. It might sound crazy, but I have seen great results for dogs with joint issues using chiropracty. There is an integrated practice in Renton that offers chiropractic service: http://www.rentonwestvet.com/
WHAT YOU CAN DO @ HOME:
Regular range of motion stretches for his hips would be great. The best way to do this is to stand behind him, put a hand on either side of his abdomen and use one hand at a time to move each of his legs. Place one hand under his belly and use the other hand to cradle his knee (the uppermost joint below the hip) and gently lift the knee and leg upwards toward the spine. Follow this by moving the leg in opposite direction, essentially folding the knee up towards his belly. In human terms, if you were standing, the first movement would simiar to you straightening your knee and stretching your leg backwards. The opposite movement would be you bending your knee and moving it up towards your chest. (I generally demonstrate this in person, so excuse the clumsy wording)
The main muscle areas to massage (with slow, gentle, slightly penetrating circular motions) would be those surrounding the hip. I have marked them on one of my flashcards below.
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2 Responses to “Advice for a big dog with an ailing hip”

  1. Kjersti Says:

    I have been gone too long. He was just a pup when I saw him last.

  2. Matt Mikulla Says:

    This is great information. My last dog was a big 100 pounder and had hip displacia and two blown out knees. Unfortunately he died young at 6.

    My dog now is also big, about 85 pounds, and I fear for the future because of the past. I’m going to do as much preventative work, including supplements and exercise, as possible.


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