Medical Info: Hip Dysplasia

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Our last OES, Merlin suffered from hip dysplasia and we tried everything there was to try to make him more comfortable, including accupuncture. I think that our expectations for relief/cure for this disease were a little high, but the accupuncture treatments definately made him feel better and therefore were certainly not a waste of money in the least.

The doctor (who came to the house to do the treatments!) was so in love with Merlin, you could see it on her face that she felt that she had failed and kept coming to see him, even after the series of treatments were completed, just to make him feel better and to play with him. I had a very hard time with calling her about 6 months later to tell her of his passing.

So all in all, I can only recommend the treatments without being able to speak to the overwelming results. The doc did tell us of miraculous recoveries with everything from cats to dogs to gerbills and I believe that she was completely sincere.

Hope this helps and that your friend is feeling better soon!

Kevin Z. and Guinevere (Our 9 month old little girl!)
I am so sorry to hear about Jake, and am writing this through tears, for both you and him. I cannot tell you how closely your story resembles mine. My thoughts and prayers are with Jake, and with you my friend.

At your request, I am cross-posting what I wrote early this morning in response to some similar discussions on the NEOES mailing list about it being "only a dog." I hope that somehow these words might somehow help you and anyone else who faces a similar decision:

I have only had to deal with that decision one time in my life - to help Merlin the Magnificent on his journey to the rainbow bridge - and it was the hardest decision I have ever made in my life. He was 11 years old, and I too told people that proudly, and it did not have anything to do with quantity over quality. It had to do how proud I was to have known him for that many years, much the same way you would tell someone how long you have been married or how long you have known a good friend.

I don't think there is one person here who is "owned by" an OES that doesn't understand that feeling of intimacy that we all have with our 4-legged friends. I too helped Merlin up from the floor because of his hip dysplasia/arthritis for close to a year, and would have done it for as long as he wanted me to.

But I think that I "Iistened" carefully to him (and you all know what I mean when I say that I think), and to the advice of my wonderful vet and the accupuncturist who helped him be more comfortable. Our vet said that the only possible "cure" would be hip surgery, which was very expensive, but that was not the real consideration - which I think was the point of the wonderful original post. I would have found the money in a heartbeat if I thought that is what he wanted/needed. It was not. The surgery would only have been an act of selfishness on my part.

But from the wiggling of his butt and the sheepie kisses he gave me when he was helped to stand up and the way he ran around the back yard with that smile on his face, I knew that the only help he needed, for a time, was a little "boost" from me. And I was more than happy to give him that.

Then one day, that changed, and when he got up he did not run, just stood as close as he could to me and looked up at me with eyes that were finally tired. He did the same thing to my wife a day later - and I think that was the hardest thing for him to do, to tell her. And we both understood that he now needed our help to cross that bridge and for us to be strong and unselfish for him. It was very hard, but I think you all know that there is no turning down that look that they give you when they really want something.

I guess I have always just been rubbed the wrong way by that phrase "just a dog." After Merlin passed, someone actually said that to me, when I was grieving conspicuoulsy and tears came. I guess they thought they were being comforting and realistic. There are some people who just "don't get it" I guess. Same people who ask "so when are you going to get another dog?" Would you say to someone who lost a best friend to old age "so, who is going to be your new best friend?" Another unfeeling response in my book, since when to get another dog is also a very personal decision.

Thanks for letting me share those thoughts. And to any of you out there who are faced with the decision - and we all know we will probably be there at some point, unfortunately - to help our friends to that bridge at the end, you will indeed know when the appropriate time is. You just have to know how to listen with your heart. And it will be the right decision at the right time.

Guinevere's Dad, Kevin Z.
I wanted to let you know of a supplement that we treated our sheepie with when he was diagnosed at 1 year with hip dysplasia. It is cosequin DS and you can get it at your vets. It has glucosamine and I experimented with him to see if it helped. We gave it to him and I know that it takes a few weeks to kick in. It really helped with his achiness when getting up and with walking. I then didn't give to him for a few weeks and he went downhill from there. So it really helped with pain and movement. I even take this for my knees and wrists. You can get it at your local health food store. I also had gold beads implanted in my OES when he was 2 and this procedure was done from a vet who specialized in accupuncture. The beads stimulate muscle mass and he really did well after this procedure. When he was four we started taking him for accupuncture, a few times a week. This helped also. Good luck with your sheepie.
I would like to know if anyone has had a bad experience with rabies shots. We had Oliver who was diagnosed with epilepsy and hip dysplasia at 1 1/2 years. We were using phenobarb and accupuncture for him and he was doing fine. When he had his rabies shot a few days later he started acting very funny..chewing on furniture, growling at us, urinating right in front of us, etc. I called the vet and asked if these symptoms could be due to rabies shot. They said no. I took him to a new holistic vet and had him tested for his hips which I thought were acting up. The vet said it was neurological and not from his epilepsy. He told us it was from the rabies shot! We gave Ollie a dose of belladonna under his tongue that evening. Within a few days he was his old self again. We now have Daisy and I have her blood tested at our "regular vet" for antibodies to parvo and distemper. I am really afraid of giving too much of any shots since we had such a bad experience with Ollie. The vet understands and we have been having good luck with the titers. We live in New Jersey and I know we will still have to give the rabies shot, but I am just having titers drawn for any other shots.
You mean your sweet little girl was once actually hyper?? You mean there may be hope for Tucker??? Laughing

Tucker's 9 1/2 months old now -- still very much a puppy but, boy, is he getting big! He's finally starting to look as big as I thought an OES would be. He's still nice and lean though. I worry about him getting fat -- I've heard so many stories about hip dysplasia! I bought Tucker at a pet store before knowing better. Next one will come from a breeder or from rescue!

Chateauguay, eh? I grew up on the South Shore -- St-Lambert, Greenfield Park! I'm in Brossard now. I bet we probably have friends/acquaintances in common -- that six degrees of separation thing! I figure I'm about 8 years older than you. I'm 38 and you said you got Roxie when you were 18 or 19, that makes you about thirty? Did you by any chance go to MacDonald-Cartier High School?

Suzanne -

It sounds like Tucker is starting to fill out, and that is good. And you are right - hip dysplasia is definately a concern in sheepies. I know that there are others here who are much more knowlegable on the subject, but I know from experience that weight is a concern.

I have been very concious of this fact with Guinney - having delt with hip dysplasia before with our last sheepie Merlin. I started her out on Iams large breed puppy formula but then started hearing very good things about another brand of dry food called Solid Gold (which is still a silly name for a dog food - I can only think of the Solid Gold Dancers from the '70s dance show everytime I buy it!). Guinney has been eating this since she was about 8 months old, and though it is a bit expensive, it is well worth it to me, since she has filled out nicely but seems not to be getting too fat.

Just thought I would pass that along. I know there are varying options of diets for our sheepies and in the end it is a personal preference, but this is just my two cents.

Hugs to Tucker!

Guinevere's Dad, Kevin Z. ("Dad, I like the food, but I like it better when you sprinlkle the parmasan cheese on top! Yummmmmm")
We have an 11 month old puppy that was recently diagnosed with hip dysplasia. He frequently limps on his back legs and is slow to get up due to the hind weakness. Any suggestions for what treatments work and what don't?
Hi, Odo's Mom!

Well, let me start off by saying that I'm not a vet, and I've only had The Jakester.

That said, from what I gather from some others, this is a very common occurance with Sheepies, and really shouldn't get you too upset.

Jake started with leg shakes at maybe 5 years old, and they progressed over the next many years. His legs still shake, even though he is now unable, at 13 (and two months), to rise on his own.

Some have told us this is a sign of pain, and could be a sign of one or more of the usual hind leg suspects: Arthritis, Hip Dysplasia and Degenerative Myelopathy. Either way, I wouldn't think this to be an acute medical issue, but you should certainly bring it up with your vet at your next appointment, or sooner if it progresses suddenly.

I'm sure my comments will cause some amount of disagreement, as everyone has their own opinion in this area.

By the way, how old is Odo?

One thing we wish that we did, when Jake was starting to need medication to control the Arthritis at the age of about 8, we now wish, in hindsight, that we had his hip(s) taken care of surgically at that point, as he is way too old and frail to undergo such a difficult procedure at this time.

But who can foresee the future?

Hi all, first time posting. I own twin black labs, female, 3 yrs. of age named Lucy and Ethyl. (Ha ha.) Ethyl was born with hip dysplasia, that was fixed. Soon after, she developed a yeast infection in her ears. We did the cleansing, but it never went away. To this day she is in horrid pain. She is a loving dog who's only thrill is to give "hugs." She cannot walk without keeping her head low, shaking back and forth constantly. We have gone to the vet repeatedly, and even he is baffled. No allergies, not responding to meds, no foreign bodies in the ear. Very black gunk, dried blood, extremely painful. We have sedated her twice for a cleansing that never helped, and cleanse her ear much to her chagrin daily. We hate to see her so hurt, and our next choice will have to be to put her down, although I really don't want to. This is the dog that screams in pain as we clean her ears, yet licks our hands to let us know she still loves us, even as we are the ones hurting her. We were wondering if anyone knew of dog tubes in ears? My nephew had tubes for drainage, and wondered if dogs had a similar procedure? Or maybe to just remove everything in her ears. Will leave her deaf, unfortunately, but if she can live a long and happy life I don't think she will hate us for long. Please, please help. Any information will be greatly appreciated. Thank you all for your time and concern.
Bill, I haven't heard anything about vitamin c, but I have used a glucosamine suplement, and just recently I found an all natural suplement called joint rescue that seems to help a great deal. You can find out more about Joint rescue at
Hi! My female sheepdog is 4 1/2 years old, and I, too have just found the same problem with her spine. So far there hasn't been any problem with her activity. My vet says that this is actually very common in sheepdogs, even more so than hip dysplasia. She recommend giving her a Glucosamine supplement, which I found in my grocery store pet dept. Hartz makes it. The vet said that it wouldn't reverse the condition, but may prevent any progression of it.

Muffinsmama wrote:
Hi! My female sheepdog is 4 1/2 years old, and I, too have just found the same problem with her spine. So far there hasn't been any problem with her activity. My vet says that this is actually very common in sheepdogs, even more so than hip dysplasia. She recommend giving her a Glucosamine supplement, which I found in my grocery store pet dept. Hartz makes it. The vet said that it wouldn't reverse the condition, but may prevent any progression of it.
Just read Ron's reply in the chit chat section.

Get this Myelopathy usually hits at about 9.6 years. It is known to be caused by vitamin B12 and Vitamin E deficiency. High fiber diets tend to cause food to pass through so fast that these vitamins are not absorbed by the pet.

And the symptoms can mimic hip dysplasia.

Contrary book says it is mainly found in German Shepards and then goes on to list Syberian huskies, collies, collie mixes, Labadores, Kerry blue terriers, .....
This disease can last 4-14 years. It is a slow, degenerative nerve damage --- hence no pain. Owners usually suspect arthritis or hip dysplasia when they bring their dogs in .....
This is sounding like you should look inot it.
Treatment is combination of diet, exercise, and vitamin supplements. There is a treatment, but it is an on-going med that works in only 50% or less of the test subjects.
You should check this out. It may save you even considering other costly treatments, such as surgery.
Hang in there.
Vitamin C is suppose to help the immune system and is great in preventing hip dysplasia.
Vitamin C also helps in the uptake of iron (and I think calcium) for the blood. Most kibbles are well fortified with Vitamin C. Excessive amounts are generaly eliminated in the urine. It makes the urine acidic and is suppose to help prevent urinary infections. It can also irritate the uretha and cause burning if given to excess. Moderation is always best.
How does a breeder know if you gave it to the dog? Vitamin C does not build up in the animals blood. It is flushed out by all healthy animals. Just wondering about the basis for the breeders stipulation. After reading the following link I guess that it may be worth doing as it is suppose to prevent hip dysplasia and help prevent arthritis.
If you feed your dog a home made dog meal, including half of a childrens vitamin is suppose to ensure the dog gets all of the vitamins and minerals it needs. Trouble is too much of anything can cause problems, so moderation is the key. Even vitamin C could cause imbalances.
Check this out with your vet whenever you are there next. Love to hear what he would have to say.
It seems Hill's Science Diet makes a lot of dogs fat with their feeding portion recommendations.
I am not sure about dog foods. I have had a lot of trouble in that area and am now using Nutro for Large dogs.
I do know that if you use a puppy food, make sure it is for large dogs. You do not want a fat puppy for many reasons, one being that a fat dog, if it is going to develop hip dysplasia, seems to develop it faster with more severe symptoms.
Do a research of this site for some good advice. Someone asked about feeding their puppy extra vitamin C or something like that. Turns out that vets have done studies that indicate giving large breed dogs extra of this citrate compound decreases onset and symptoms of hip dysplasia in large boned dogs.
Also DO NOT give too much calcium to a growing puppy as this causes lameness.
Nutro for large breed puppies is supposed to be good also. Make sure the pup is still parasite free in 6-12 weeks by a fecal check and have the vet check the pup for being over-weight. A lot of studies indicate over weight puppies don't live as long.
Also watch for any reaction to shots or parasite preventatives as these could lead to an autoimmune response.
I am thinking how much to feed is individual. Less active puppies should be fed less. All puppies should be fed at least 3 times a day. Food should not be left out to eat on demand. And you should make the puppy sit and wait to be fed and then sit and let you take the food up before it is finished -- then give it back again. You need to condition the pup not to get aggresive about its food. This will avaoid snapping while eating later in life.
Good luck! Post some photos when you get a chance!
Hi Sleepymom,

Yes! Post lots of pictures!! We love to see pics of the dogs mentioned on here. ( I will eventually but at the moment using a very ancient comp that crashes often.)

Glad your breeder answered questions for you. No doubt you were concerned as 950 is a lot of money! I think no matter what price you pay for a puppy what becomes more important is a healthy puppy. It must be heartbreaking for those that adopted a pup from the pet store and find out he/she has numerable medical problems as they age. By that time the family is bonded with the pet and is burdened with high medical bills which some choose not to go that route. Overall it's heartbreaking.

Sorry going a bit off topic here. I know from reading info from the AKC websites what they seem most concerned with is backyard breeders whom don't have knowledge of their dogs medical history and breed them for a profit. When that happens those deficiencies are carried over to their pups whom may also be bred themselves, and bring down the standard of the species.( Meaning - a lot of medically fragile dogs or overly agressive dogs for example) As whatever deficiencies the parents have is carried over to their pups. A reputable breeder would neuter or spay their dog and not use them for breeding if there existed any medical conditions. Dogs that are bred and registered with the AKC have been medically evaluated before they are allowed to breed. Breeders also choose dogs on positive attributes and will refrain from breeding an overly agressive dog, for example ,as not wanting the puppies to potentially have this trait.

The pups should also have been tested (x-rayed) for things that this breed may be prone to - like hip dysplasia. While not 100% quaranteed when the pups are still young it's a good indicator. I think I read too that most dogs won't be bred until the age of three so as they can be 100% sure at that time of the dogs overall health and will definately know if hip dysplasia or other potential diseases is in that dogs genetics. If the test is negative than the breeder will use that dog for breeding purposes and probable chances are his/her puppies will not have that in their genetic background. If it proves positive than they are not used for breeding as it will only purpetuate in the resulting puppies. I quess the last thing anyone wants is weak dogs that are prone to disease.

Show dogs also have to be intact males and breeding females. (Personally I don't see why there is a deal about this - but perhaps again it's to allow the best quality of these dogs to breed)

Lastly, I have no experience with show dogs or that world - although have gone to one or two dog shows in my life. I just learned this stuff from reading and may be incorrect in some of my post. If anyone corrects me I wouldn't feel the least bit insulted. Very Happy

Lastly (whew another long winded post - sorry) I just wanted to repeat what I said in my first post regarding show and pet. I hope no one is left feeling bad if they have a dog of pet quality. There is absolutely nothing wrong with them!! The only reason they may have been sold as "pet" rather than "show" is they have traits that would disqualify them in a show ring but are perfect to all the people whom love them and have them as part of their family. "Pet" dogs are generally sold for less than "show" dogs and generally are asked to be neutered or spayed by the breeder. These could be the runts of the litter for example.

I really prefered a dog as "pet" but as I've said there where none available as the breeder has already a buyer for the "pet", so I had to purchase a "show".

Hope that educated everyone a little and again I'm not an expert on this stuff...I just read a lot. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Sleepiemom...I really wish you the best of luck and want to hear all about your new pup!!!

Try looking and comparing Solid Gold, Nutro for Large breeds, Nutro Lite, and there's a couple of more that are mentioned here all of the time. Iams is fine, but tends to fatten dogs. You can always give glucosamine/MSM supplements to you dog along with a good well balanced dog food.
Don't let a dog with hip dysplasia get fat. Exercise regular, but not lengthy sessions. Give the dog a mat or something to lay on to cushion its bones.
Ask the doctor about giving him a baby aspirin or pain killer when he seems to stiff to move, but be very careful. Don't want hemorraging or ulcers.
Use our search feature and look over others advice on food and hip dysplasia. There has been some very good posts here. Hip dysplasia is a muscle type disease that gets worse with age, weight, and lack of movement. It can be held at bay with Glucosamine, MSM, a good diet, and even a type of vitamin C I believe. Please hit the search button up in the header and put in some of these words along with SEARCH the POSTS.
An OES shouldn't be eating a puppy chow after 9 months, I don't think. Excessive amounts of protein, fat, and calcium can aggravate the condition-- I THINK. I am just typing this from memory. Hopefully you will get better advice from the others here.
Good luck!

stormi wrote:
A very nice lady I have met at a dog show Allene Black of Gwynedd OES's.

WOW What an introduction! Razz I do remember you, and Stormi. I will be coming back to your neck of the woods this summer with Duncan and a New little girl "Delilah (or Donut)" get it..... Dunk 'n Donut.. okay bad joke my husband loves it. I really look forward to seeing you again.

First, what a great forum! Thank you Ron! Let me start out by saying I have been owned, showing and breeding (somewhat less in the years) since 1974. My very first OES came from a couple in Albuquerque NM after a well known breeder refused to sell me a puppy! (I didn't know who she was back then so that doesn't matter). I wanted an OES so bad and as most of you, I didn't want to 'wait' and 'do my homework'. I should have. This boy was such a horrible breeding with many many many health problems. However, he was MY BABY and went to classes in my backpack at UNM and we loved each other. My next 2 oes were showdogs bought from a VERY well known Breeder and BOTH ended up having severe Hip dysplasia and no apologies nor compensation back. I know have 3 champions in my home. 2 Imported from the U.K., and another I bred and finished from the Bred By Exhibitor Class myself! I am so vey proud of this boy. I have also put more titles on him and he is an International/Mexican/American Champion with a Canine Good Citizen. We are going to the Euro OES show in Switzerland in May and back to Mexico for his Latin American Championship and to Canada for the Canadian. I am not bragging here (well maybe a little) but to show you what YOU can do to.

I have read your posts and would like to make a few comments. Yes it is true that not all dogs that are BYB or Puppymill bred should not be shown. With that said, AHEMMMM if you intend to show, you MUST have thick skin and be willing to listen to a LOT of people tell you your dog is not of "quality" and you should buy from a reputible breeder.
Yes, you own the dog and have every right to show it. But it will be a very long row and hard to boot. You need someone to mentor you and show you the ropes so to speak. Grooming and trimming are the 2 key essential parts before you EVER get into the ring! And most people are not willing to help, unless you buy one of their dogs. I found this out when I came back into showing after a hiatus due to husbands profession at the time. I had imported my 2 from the UK and they "looked different". Didn't make them wrong. In fact Rosie is my 1st Champion. They came from a very impressive bloodline in the UK but no one liked her because a) she was different b) they didnt know WHO I was and c) I didn't buy her from them.

I will always, no, let me change that ALWAYS help newcomers. You may not like what I have to tell you about your dog saying that it is not 'show material' but I will NOT lie to you to get you to buy one of my pups. (I have one every 2 or 3 years maybe). I will assist you at a show if you really want to show. All you need do is ask me. I am in Colorado or I could put you in touch with someone in your area that perhaps would give you an honest opinion of your dog and not try to do the above to you.

Thanks for your time. And good luck!!
I think one of the issues that was concerning about this breeder was that they sell several different breeds of dogs and there were many other "red flags" that would indicate that this was a Commercial Breeder and/or Puppy mill. In addition, several people had reported having behavior and/or health problems with the puppies they had gotten from them. Now, whether or not that is true - I have no idea! I am in no position to make that judgement.

You are right - there are no guarantees with any puppy you get - even if they are from a "reputable breeder". But purchasing from a breeder affiliated with the breed club (i.e. OESCA) ensures that the breeders are following a code of ethics (which include typical health screenings and testing requirements). These tests don't eliminate all health problems - but they do decrease the chances drastically (hip dysplasia, genetic defects, deafness, aggression, etc.).

Behavior problems are a huge concern with OES - and I've heard about more aggressive OES puppies within the last few weeks than I've heard about in years! This, in my opinion, is directly related to poor breeding practices. How many of these people that report having problems with young puppies have received help and/or advice from their breeders?? Breeders should be involved for the life of the puppy - and should be concerned about the temperments of the puppies they are producing. I've asked several of the people with aggressive pups - and most of them have said their breeder was no help. Most of them were from commercial breeders, byb, and/or puppy mills.

I also bought a puppy from a commercial breeder/puppy mill - and wouldn't ever criticize anyone else who did (or think any less of their puppy) - but - I'll never do it again! I have met so many others since who bought OES from the same breeder and they have had serious health/behavior problems - I will never take the chance again!

Many of these dogs end up in rescue, shelters and/or euthanized - because of health and/or behavioral problems that could have been avoided by following ethical breeding practices. Sad

Kristen (keeping my fingers crossed that all of my dogs remain healthy and live long happy lives - regardless of what breeder they are from!)

I have also gone back & forth as to whether or not Pet Insurance is worth it. I haven't made up my mind - but I'm leaning towards not getting it. I'll probably be sorry - but it is expensive. If your dog has been to the Vet for a problem before getting insurance - they often don't cover that illness/problem.

My sister has it for her basset hound, Mosi. She bought it after she spent $4000+ on two surgeries to re-sect his intestines (he ate a toy and a rock when he was a puppy). Mosi's coverage won't cover anything that may be similar or related - but she thought she should go ahead and get it anyway. It seems to have paid off (for the first year anyway) - just on the preventative care - and on his neutering. She uses VPI.

I recently heard from another OES owner (who has insurance) that they won't cover surgery or treatment for hip dysplasia either - it's a "genetic defect" and isn't covered by alot of plans. I wondered what other things they may also put in that category. So, be sure to look at the fine print!!!

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