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Hip Dysplasia Is Easier to Prevent than We May Have Thought

I want to go over why we often seem to emphasize weight and body condition score in our puppies and dogs and why it is so important.

In one of the better studies on the topic, they took some Labrador retrievers and fed them the “normal” amount recommended on bags of food.

The second group was fed about 25% less, to keep them at a body condition score (BCS) of 4-5.

The dogs in the study were all litter mates, so genetic variation was not an issue.

The group that was kept at a 4-5 BCS not only suffered less pain, they also lived longer.

Please look at the chart to see the difference (charts from Institute of Canine Biology analysis of the published data).

If anyone wants to ready the whole study themselves, here’s a link.

It's easier to evaluate body condition on a short-haired dog, because you can do that visually. If your dog has a longer coat, be sure you can feel your dogs ribs and that there is at most only a VERY thin layer of fat over them. If you need help evaluating your dog’s body condition, please ask us or consult your vet.

This graph shows the heavier dogs (blue bars) had a MUCH higher incidence if hip dysplasia than those kept at a body condition score of 4-5 (red bars). This is a very drastic difference! Roughly 2-3 times the number dogs (depending on age) that were over a 4-5BCS had evidence of hip dysplasia compared to those that were kept at a healthier weight.

This chart shows that dogs kept at a body condition score of 4-5 (red bars) lived longer than those allowed to get a little heavier (blue bars). 75% of the dogs with the 4-5 BCS lived to 12 years of age, but only 30% of the dogs that ate more lived to 12.

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