Vet warns over dogs' hip problems

Elle FarcicThe West Australian

Ruby splashed around on the aqua treadmill at Mosman Park Veterinary Hospital, her big brown eyes scanning the room for treats as the belt beneath her paws started to move.

After some gentle encouragement from canine rehabilitator Carmel Keylock, the eight-month-old golden retriever fell into a rhythm with the machine.

"We're walking now you clever girl, you're doing so well," Ms Keylock said.

Ruby was six months old when her owner Marie Boyle noticed there was something wrong.

She started showing signs of discomfort in her legs that grew from limping to dragging her hind legs behind her.

X-rays revealed Ruby was suffering from hip dysplasia - a painful heritable condition that results in hip joint deformity.

Ranford Veterinary Hospital partner David Marshall said while Ruby was a "beautiful dog", he was frustrated some breeders were not taking adequate steps to reduce the incidence of such diseases.

"The tragedy is that it has been well known for many years that the condition is heritable and its incidence can be significantly reduced by selective breeding," he said. "I would encourage people to do their research on the breed, but also on the particular kennel they are thinking of buying their dog from."

Dr Marshall said Ruby had the worst case of hip dysplasia he had seen in his 20-year career. Ruby will be assessed for a bilateral hip replacement later this year.

Ms Boyle said although she hated seeing her dog in pain, she did not regret buying Ruby. "If I had given her back to the breeder they would have got rid of her, but that was never in the equation because she was already part of the family," she said.

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