What if hip dysplasia was not the genetic disease that we have been led to think it is??
What if it is not caused by “bad genes”?**
In fact there is no scientific evidence at all to prove that it is an inherited polygenic disease. The cause has remained mostly unknown for decades and only “guessed” that it is many genes coming together to cause it to develop.
Many decades of hip testing and breeding only dogs clear of HD have not solved the problem to any great extent.
Marc Torel and Klaus Dieter Kammerer of Germany published a book in 1997 titled
“The Thirty Years‘ War 1966-1996” regarding the role nutrition plays in developing HD.
Unfortunately it has not been translated into English yet.
A summary of the book can be read here -
The Error of the Millennium in Veterinary Medicine
HD has not always been apart of the canine heritage. It was first noticed in 1935 and given a name. This is approx 5 - 10 years AFTER the first introduction of commercial dog food. (depending on the country)
Over 70 years later and we still have not managed to curb it. And decade after decade we have continued to feed our dogs a totally inappropriate diet.
Nutrition is everything…it grows our pups from the first meal they take…..a diet that is incorrect in its nutritional value will grow the pup improperly and that’s where all types of bone growth problems start.
Most commercial (kibble) dogs foods are much too high in protein, fat, calcium and carbohydrates. (Some people will even offer calcium supplements to growing pup, mistakenly thinking that more is better!)
This in turn leads to a rapid growth rate that is unnatural.
The skeletal grow rate can not keep up to the growth of the pup. The bones are decreased in density, are thinner and have less minerals deposited in them; less calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. These bones are softer and weaker then those of a pup that is grown at a natural rate. This is a cause of HD.
Pups that are overweight put too much stress on growing bones and joints, another cause of HD.
A rolly-polly pup is an unhealthy pup.
Another factor in bone growth is muscular growth. The growth of muscles directly impact the way in which bones will form….muscles will actually “mould” bone into proper shape. Many commercial foods are not only too high in protein, fat, calcium and calories, they are lacking in vitamins and minerals due to
over-processing. They are especially lacking in vitamin E and selenium.
Selenium is a trace mineral present in the canine’s natural diet in amino acids
found mostly in organ meats. (Derived from the soil which plant matter grows in.)
Selenium works with vitamin E to promote healthy muscular growth. The failure of the muscle to develop and reach maturity at the same rate as the skeleton results in joint instability which can result in HD.
This is only one example of how a deficiency can cause growth problems.
NOTE ** Many dry and canned dog foods use an inorganic type of selenium -
sodium selenite or sodium selenate.
These forms of selenium are considered toxic by the
National Toxicology Program of the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Hormones also play a great part in how a body will grow. Malnutrition (or lack of certain nutrients) causes increased production of growth hormones - the thyroid hormones and insulin-like hormones that are a factor in the growth rate.
Either growing a pup too fast or growing too slow by lack of proper vitamins and minerals can cause bones and muscles that form improperly = HD. (Along with a host of other skeletal diseases that afflict
One more important factor to raise pups free of skeletal diseases is the amount of exercise we allow them and how it is offered.
A pup should be allowed to exercise freely of its own will and stop of its own will when it is tired. Continuing to exercise a pup that has become tired causes undue stress on bones and joints. When muscles become tired they are no longer supporting joints correctly. The muscles are stretched and weakened and the joints are no longer held apart, but are sitting and rubbing on each other.
The best exercise for a growing pup is free playing time, either with his owner or other dogs. In this manner the pup is free to stop activity as soon as it becomes tired. And you will notice that when a young pup becomes tired, they will usually flop down and they are off to sleep within minutes!
Walking on a leash, the pup may become tired ¾ of the way through the walk, but still needs to continue the rest of the way home, this is when damage can be done to growing bones and joints. (In the case of over-weight pups this damage becomes even greater)
Too little exercise and confinement that does not promote proper muscular growth, can also lead to HD.
A pup should be raised on a solid footing, not on the bottom of a wood or plastic whelping box or newspaper. These surfaces are slippery and are a major cause of joint and bone instability during the first weeks of walking.
HD is easily preventable if we grow our pups properly:
- By offering the proper nutrition of a diet that nature has designed for them – a raw meat and bone diet.
- By keeping growing pups at a lean weight.
- By offering them the opportunity for proper exercise - free play time. (Chewing and tearing at a raw meaty bone is also excellent natural exercise!)
** For pup owners who feel that they can not feed a raw meat and bone diet, but instead will use commercial dog food here are some nutrient values to look for in the food you feed to grow a pup at the proper rate:
- Between 1% - 2% calcium
- No more then 20% protein.
- Between 5% - 10% fat.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Omega-6 Fatty Acids should be the correct ratio of 1:3.
**NOTE- The genes that can help “cause” HD are indirect genes.
Genes for a large (giant) size breed
Genes for heavier weight (which Labs are more prone to)
Genes for fast growth
Genes for small muscles
Genes for poor structure (The sloped back of a German Shepherd)
These are “man-made” genes/traits and can be corrected in the breeds that are prone to them.
Some things to think about -
- The occurrence of HD in wolves is extremely rare. In the few cases that have been studied, it can
be directly linked back to a previous period of near starvation in the region or within the individual pack.
Nutrition is the factor.
- It is well documented that pups are never born with dysplastic hips. It happens over time, either severe HD by 6 months old or mild HD in one or both hips appearing all the way up to
10 years old and anything in-between at any given age.
Can this be called “genetic” or is the progression a matter of nutrition and exercise?
HD consists of many different physical characteristic coming together.
- Tissues around the joint are stretched and weak.
Does the pup have a gene that creates this??
Or did it happen because an overweight pup bones were growing too fast and those tissues were not strong enough to support a body too heavy for them?
- Muscles surrounding the hip joint are poorly developed.
Does the pup have a gene that causes this??
Or did the muscles fail to develop because of inadequate exercise and/or poor nutrition from birth?
- Why did the bones grow faster then the muscle?
Does the pup have a gene for this?
Or is it because of a diet with excessive energy that grew those bones too fast?
Or a diet with excessive calcium that grew bones too fast?
- Why are the bones which make up the hip joint - both head and socket - badly made?
Is there really a gene that can create this, either from 8 weeks old or over years of time?
Or is it because those bones where softer then they should have been because of poor nutrition.
Or because that pup was heavier then it should have been and the constant weight on those softer bones reformed them into an incorrect shape...flattened femoral head and saucer shaped socket?
- Why do the ligaments of hip joints become stretched and sloppy?
Does the pup have a gene for this?
Or did it happen because of external pressures such as a very heavy pup doing excessive exercise?
Is it really feasible that all these poor quality genes massed together to create these malformed hips or is it a matter of nutrition and exercise that causes bone and muscle deformation resulting in HD??
What makes more sense?