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Our gorgeous 8mth old IRWS has been diagnosed with hip dysplasia in both hips :(

After noticing a couple of weeks ago that Poppy was holding her right leg and having periods of lameness, we took her to the vets. The first vet we saw - our usual vet was on holiday - said to have her on Metacam for a week as she thought it was muscle strain. At the time, I said that I would prefer to have her x-rayed as her hips weren't symmetrical and I suspected she was suffering from CDH - I explained that my eldest daughter suffers from the same thing and the symptoms were similar. She rotated the hips, not to a great degree and thought I was been over cautious.

A week later and she was still the same so I booked an appointment to have her seen by my usual vet today. As soon as he rotated her left hip, you heard it 'clunking' in and out of joint. The other hip couldn't even be rotated to that extexnt because it was too painful for her. When I saw the x-rays, it was like looking at my daughter's hips!

He memtioned about building up the muscle with hydro but I said I want her to have a triple pelvic osteotomy, as this is the best way of making sure she has as normal a doggy life as the other dogs.

She's booked in for next Friday for the op but I don't know whether to get her referred to Noel Fitzpatrick - the 'bionic vet'. I did mention it to him and he says the orthpaedic specialist they have have a great success rate with this procedure. It's just I know from past experience with my daughter, you need to get it right first time!

Also, he recommended changing her diet to Hill j/d, as this greatly slows down the arthritic process but I really don't like that stuff. We feed her on the BARF diet and give her salmon oil and glucasomine. This diet would be a lifetime thing, not just until she's recovered.

Any advice on the vet referral/food would be greatly received.

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I was hoping you would reply Margaret as I know that you allow your puppies a lot of freedom and want them to start off their life as active as possible.

It would be really interesting if the club would survey its member and see if there is a link between exercise under a year and HD.

I watched a video this morning by Dr.. Karen Becker of Mercola Healthy Pets. She was discussing elbows. She suggested that there should be some good steady exercise rather than restricting young dogs as muscle tone needs to be developed.  I spoke to a hip specialist last year who suggested something very similar to what Margaret has said, but to ensure the puppies don't become over tired whilst running around.  I always watch the gaits of my youngsters, making sure they keep a good posture whilst they are running around. Any sign of them tiring means they go home to rest. I now pass this advice onto the people in my puppy classes as it seems sensible, even though the medical profession seem to change their minds every few years.

Susie, When I was still quite new to breeding IRWS, and had had only a couple of litters, I got a stiff lecture from somebody who had been breeding IRWS for a couple of decades, and Irish Setters before that, and was told in no uncertain terms that I was allowing my puppies far too much freedom to run, and that they would grow up with "bad hips" and "out at the elbows" and "too thin"  . I was told about the regime used by another IRWS breeder who allows her puppies only five minutes a day off lead until they are  a year old, and this was strongly recommended. I listened respectfully, said nothing and carried on as before. Before I had setters, we had never had a dysplastic springer either.  I noted  the breeder who only lets her puppies off the lead for five minutes has had some high hip scores in her breeding. I was also told in my early days with IRWS that puppies should be nice and fat! I prefer them relatively lean and dont overfeed. If they are skinny adolescents and slower maturing , that is fine with me, they dont have to go in the show ring looking like a mature dog before they are a year old, I would rather see them growing and maturing more slowly. They get fed a mix of high protein dry puppy  food , raw meat and chicken wings, fish,  eggs, lots of vegetables and bananas, Weetabix,  yoghourt, cottage cheese and as much milk as they want , either fresh cows milk or lamb replacer or goats milk when I can get it. I'm aware some breeders dont give puppies milk after they are weaned, and have been warned that its not good for puppies , but mine seem to thrive on it

I guess everybody has their own ideas about how to raise puppies, all I can say is mine seem to do OK with the way they are fed and the amount of exercise and freedom they get, and so far they seem to have good hips, but of course it is important to breed from dogs with good hips and a history of good hips behind them. Not only what is in the written pedigree, but also looking laterally at siblings, and what else the stud dogs have produced. And still something unexpected can happen!

I must admit, the only thing I'm 'strict' with is the stairs. We have a stair gate at the bottom but with 4 children, it does sometimes get left open and they may wander upstairs.

Our dogs are fed on a similar diet to Margeret's brood, minus the biscuit. The vet did say that although he disagreed with the BARF diet, this would have been a benefit to her through the 'rapid growth' period as dogs on this diet have a slower growth rate.

I do agree though, that if they're going to have bad hips, it's a genetic issue rather than enviromental.

Advice on these matters change all of the time, it's like when you're pregnant and you get a lsit of food you shouldn't eat...changes everytime!

Get them hip scored and find out :)

We were told having our girl done at 4 was far too late for an accurate score and it would prob come up high - she got a 7.  The stud dog has just been hip scored aged 6 and came up 4:4 so again acceptable, they may have been a point lower a few years ago but I don't think it would make much difference.

But then what do I know! :)

Thank you Finn, you're very kind.

I know how you feel, you do feel guilty for letting them off and going against 'professional' advice but our lot go mad if they're not excercised. For the month that we were told - by the first vet - to 'rest' her, she completely destroyed the garden! We have had to replace 3 fence panels!!! As soon as we resumed excercise it instantly stopped. I'm sure in the wild, their mum's don't restrict their excercise! :)

ypur hip score is not just "a number" Score for each hip is shown as 4 numbers and cerain quadrants in the number relate to "wear and tear"

Until he has had his hips crayed no point speculating

susie - careful what you wish for!! Another survery!

Gordons have been through a long period of debatre on hips and we have had stringent measures and then seen them rescinded. A recent stud allegdly had a score in the high 50's but then he had clear eyes so the breeder felt "justified"

Gordon scores are higher but I am nor sure how much is genetic and how much is environment

The subject interests me since I have had my IRWS.

My first arrived at 9 weeks and I did the usual things lifted in to the van, ni charging up or down the stairs vut he was a tremendous jumper and he took walls and fences in his stride.

Second one did not arrive with me til she was 11 months old and I followed the same rules.

Both dogs were scored and the bitch shows no "wear and tear" but the dog score is higher as he has 2 points in each of the relecant quads.

I have looked closely at their formative months. I have three steps into my kitchen and three steps on my fronyt path. Various surfaces and levels around my yard

Margaret on the other hand has no steps anywhere around her and her ground is meadow and rough grass!

We both feed exactly the smae

Therefore I have to say environment plays a larger part than we give it credit for.

However - looking back over my Gordon studies into HD I am strongly inclined to say that genetic malfunctuins wil never be improved by diet, excercise or health regimes.

Ive heard Evas phrase many times "if the dog has good hips...." and I think thats true. I dont mind anyone thunking about using their dog at stud or thinking of taking a litter but I do mind if you dont do your homework.

Look at pedigrees - brothers and sisters of the dogs involved, talk to your breeder but then talk to lots of other people (please though not on blo%%y chat lists!) Really find out about the lines you are interested in long long befor you ever decide on a pup or a mating


Susie a hip score of 4.4 is better than acceptable, it is very good. You would be amazed at how many myths and old wives tales we grew up with! Puppies need exercise, not only to build their muscles but also for their social wellbeing. Free, not forced, develops a healthy body and healthy mind. Playing and running is by far the best and in my experience there is association between free exercise and hip dysplasia. If a dog is born with good hips it will have good hips, unless it has accidental damage. A friend of mine lets her puppies out to play in her very large garden from the time they become mobile and has never had any problems. Margaret is right in the way she brings up her youngsters. To my mind it sounds sensible for a fast growing, leggy Setter to develop muscle as it grows to give support and keep the joints in position.
Just read my comment and missed out a 'no'. It should have read " to my mind there is no association between free exercise and hip dysplasia". My apologies!

Well, it's check up time for Poppy tomorrow.

I think she'll be having the op sooner rather than later though as she's getting really clumsy in her back legs. She doesn't seem to be in any more pain - unless she falls the wrong way - but she seems to be putting more and more weight through her front legs. In fact, when she sits, she looks like a British Bulldog, all shoulders and chest!

I'll let you all know how we get on,

Emma & Pops :)

Poppy had her appointment and x-rays this morning and unfortunately it's not good news.

Her hips have got worse and she is going in on Thursday morning for a full left hip replacement. If all goes well, she will then have her right hip done 3-6 months later.

I can't believe it's happening this quickly but hopefully it will mean she is a happy, pain free puppy sooner rather than later :)




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