Q & A: Hip dysplasia and microchipping

Please remember that the advice given here is of a general nature, and if you have any concerns about your pet’s health you should contact your vet immediately.

Q: What is hip dysplasia? I am thinking of getting a Labrador puppy and have been warned about this.

A: Hip dysplasia is a disease that affects young, growing dogs. The term, hip dysplasia, refers to a malformation of the hip joint leading to excessive laxity of the joint. The body will react to the instability by thickening the joint with scar tissue, known as arthritis. Often this condition is recognized by the “bunny hop” gait while running. As the condition worsens, dogs may exhibit soreness on rising or sitting down, going up stairs, jumping, or after exercise. The disease is heritable, and diagnosis is made on X-rays. It is vital to confirm that bred dogs such as Labradors come from low scoring parentage. A good breeder will be able to provide the necessary details. I would strongly recommend that you consult your vet prior to committing to buy a puppy so that you have a good idea of what to look for and what questions to ask the breeder. Should a dog develop hip dysplasia there are various approaches to treatment – if you have any concerns about your dog please contact your vet.

Q: Is microchipping a better idea than collar tags for identifying our pets?

A: If you have dogs the current law still requires them to wear collars with the name and address of the owner attached. However microchipping is an excellent backup to this in case the collar is lost or removed. The chips can be placed in any species of pet, and details held on a database means that any lost pet can easily be reunited with their owner. It is also a way of proving ownership, as well as identifying pets for travelling abroad on a pet passport. Recent advances have led to additional benefits as well – we currently use a microchip that not only identifies the animal but also reads their temperature in a split second, meaning no more thermometers for anxious pets! There is also a cat flap available that can be programmed to only let cats with specific microchips in. (It uses a scanner mounted in an awning over the flap) Please contact your vet for more information.