Understanding OFA Certification and Combatting Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Apr 3


Joseph M. Sabol

Joseph M. Sabol

  • Share this article on Facebook
  • Share this article on Twitter
  • Share this article on Linkedin

When it comes to ensuring the health and longevity of large breed dogs, responsible breeders and owners prioritize OFA certification to screen for hip dysplasia, a genetic condition that can severely impact a dog's quality of life. Hip dysplasia leads to an unstable hip joint, which can cause pain, discomfort, and eventually osteoarthritis. Understanding OFA certification and the available treatments for hip dysplasia is crucial for maintaining the well-being of these beloved pets.

What is OFA Certification?

The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) is the authoritative body that evaluates and certifies dogs for hip dysplasia,Understanding OFA Certification and Combatting Hip Dysplasia in Dogs Articles among other genetic conditions. Established in 1966 by John M. Olin, the OFA was created in response to the prevalence of hip dysplasia in sporting dogs. Through radiographic evaluation, the OFA assesses the quality of a dog's hip joints and maintains a comprehensive database of these health screenings.

The OFA classifies canine hip joints into seven categories:

  1. Excellent
  2. Good
  3. Fair
  4. Borderline
  5. Mild
  6. Moderate
  7. Severe

These classifications help breeders and owners understand the likelihood of hip dysplasia and related issues in their dogs.

Surgical and Non-Surgical Treatments for Hip Dysplasia

When it comes to treating hip dysplasia, the age of the dog and the severity of the condition dictate the approach. For puppies under 10 months, a surgical procedure known as triple pelvic osteotomy may be performed. This surgery involves cutting the pelvic bone in three places, repositioning the hip socket, and securing the joint with plates and screws. However, this option is only viable before arthritic changes occur in the joint.

Another surgical option is a total hip replacement, which is a more complex and costly procedure, typically performed at specialized veterinary hospitals. The cost can reach upwards of $1,750 for one hip, but often only one hip requires treatment.

Non-Surgical Management Strategies

For those seeking non-surgical solutions, several options exist:

  • Weight Management and Exercise: Keeping the dog at a healthy weight and engaging in controlled exercise can help stabilize the joint and reduce stress on it. However, exercise routines may need to be adjusted if the dog experiences pain.
  • Environmental Management: Cold and damp conditions can exacerbate joint pain, so providing a warm and comfortable environment is beneficial.
  • Medication: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be prescribed by a veterinarian, but they come with potential side effects such as stomach upset and decreased appetite. It's crucial never to give human NSAIDs to dogs.
  • Supplements: Some vets recommend supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin, which can aid in rebuilding cartilage. It may take a week or more for these supplements to reach effective levels in the dog's system.

The Importance of Veterinary Consultation

It's essential for dog owners to consult with their veterinarian to determine the best course of action for managing hip dysplasia. With professional guidance and dedicated care, dogs with hip dysplasia can lead active, comfortable lives.

Interesting Statistics and Facts

  • According to the OFA's 2021 statistics, 21.6% of all dogs evaluated for hip dysplasia were found to have some degree of the condition. (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals)
  • Large breed dogs are more susceptible to hip dysplasia, with breeds like the Bulldog, Pug, and Dogue de Bordeaux having higher incidences. (American Kennel Club)
  • Preventative measures, such as proper nutrition during a dog's rapid growth phase, can help reduce the risk of developing hip dysplasia. (American Kennel Club)

In conclusion, OFA certification is a vital tool for breeders and owners of large breed dogs to identify and manage hip dysplasia. By understanding the condition and the available treatments, both surgical and non-surgical, dog owners can ensure their pets enjoy a high quality of life despite this genetic challenge.