The Link Between Food Reduction and Hip Dysplasia

What Is Hip Dysplasia?

According to the AKC in normal dogs, "The hip joint functions as a ball and socket. In dogs with hip dysplasia, the ball and socket do not fit or develop properly, and they rub and grind instead of sliding smoothly. This results in deterioration over time and an eventual loss of function of the joint itself". There are a few contributing factors to canine hip dysplasia. Genetics, how fast dogs grow, exercises and being overweight are all contributors. 


What Is The Study?

In a study conducted by Nestle Purina 48 Labrador Retriever puppies from 7 litters were gathered and split into two groups: the unrestricted eater group and the restricted eater group, which was fed 25% less than its counter-group. The 7 litters/partner puppies were then monitored, x-rayed and watched at random times throughout their entire lives.

According to Purina Research, "Prevalence of radiographic evidence of hip joint osteoarthritis in all dogs increased linearly throughout the study, from an overall prevalence of 15% at 2 years to 67% by 14 years. Restricted-fed dogs had lower prevalence and later onset of hip joint osteoarthritis. Median age at first identification of radiographic evidence of hip joint osteoarthritis was significantly lower in the control-fed group (6 years), compared with the restricted-fed group (12 years)", the study states.

What Does This Mean?

Simply put, according to the Institute of Canine Biology, "Dogs that were fed less had dramatically lower incidence of hip dysplasia". Restricting and limiting feeding of puppies into adolescence and into adulthood prevented the development of hip joint osteoarthritis in this particular group of Labradors. A 25% reduction in food intake helped these dogs stay healthy for longer, delaying painful osteoarthritis and prolonging their quality of life. 

Heavier dogs had worse hips, the results were as clear as day. 

Now What?

Nearly 56 percent of dogs are considered overweight or obese, according to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention’s most recent survey. Additionally, hip dysplasia is considered one of the most derailing and common diseases in the orthopedic world. It has the capacity to cripple your dog both hypothetically and physically if action is not taken. 

Luckily, we can help our dogs lose the weight they need to lose and increase their quality of life.  There are many exercises that specifically help dogs with muscle building and fat loss.  Additionally, there are resources and tips for you and your dog on the health and weight loss journey, such as calorie counting and picking the correct type of treats.   Lastly, make sure to check out the Pet Obesity Prevention website, which is full of great tips and information.

If you are interested in learning more about Giant and Large Breed Hip Dysplasia and general health, make sure to check out The Institute of Canine Biology.  And lastly, as always, if you’re interested in additional information or advice about Hip Dysplasia, be sure to check out our instagram where we link helpful articles from veterinarians and research journals. From helpful studies about feeding to training to health, we believe in finding the many resources available from veterinarians to help you and your big dog!


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