Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Ruby's Journey with Hip Dysplasia

by Ron Rutherford

Ruby was a purebred German Shepherd. She was the sweetest canine companion I’ve ever known. Capable of being fierce, she was mostly a loyal, lovable dog who loved going exploring and spending time with her family. She was happy to meet strangers and agreeable with other dogs. She was confident, yet accommodating, when we temporarily took in my son’s rescue terrier. They got along swimmingly and she didn’t mind at all when he nipped at her heels to get her attention.

Ruby as a puppy
Ruby had hip dysplasia, but it didn’t pin her down – she found a way to live a full life in spite of it.

We discovered that during one of the routine visits to the vet.

Since this is a common issue with this breed, we were not completely surprised, but it is still difficult to deal with.

Later on in her life, it became very apparent that Ruby was in pain. 

Her movement became more limited as time went on. No longer was she able to run and chase squirrels in the backyard as she once loved to do, and she couldn’t jog with me like she used to.

We had to think of ways to adjust our activities in order to accommodate her.

Just because your dog has this condition, they don’t have to live a purposeless, painful life. 

There are ways to alleviate some of the pain and help them enjoy life as much as they can.

I always watched Ruby’s diet carefully, but when her symptoms started to get worse, I took extra care to make sure she was getting proper portions of food – along with exercise – to make sure she wasn’t carrying around any excess weight.

Our walks gradually became shorter and shorter, but we made sure to walk as often as possible. 

Towards the end, Ruby couldn’t go every day, but on rare occasions when she had energy to spare, we made up for it.

We used some anti-inflammatory medications that did not contain steroids to lessen her pain.

Although not a permanent fix, there were some times where she appeared to have more energy; since she wasn’t experiencing as much pain, she was more willing to go on walks and play in the yard. After consulting with our veterinarian, we did this for several months on a semi-regular basis. We also had a check-up after starting to make sure Ruby wasn’t having any adverse reactions to the medication.

We decided not to opt for surgery for Ruby. 

By the time we looked into it, she was almost 11 years old and near the end of her life. It was an extremely difficult decision to make, but we decided the surgery would have been more disruptive than helpful in her twilight years.

Just a short time later, Ruby passed away in the night in our home. 

She had been in good spirits the day before but was visibly tired and moved very little that evening. We gathered around her for a few hours and let her know it was ok to go. When we woke up in the morning, she was gone.

Sadly, hip dysplasia is not something that can be cured 100%. With that in mind, Ruby was still vibrant and a part of our happy family. If your dog suffers from this, don’t write them off as an invalid. It will time extra time and TLC, but you and your dog can enjoy your life together despite the difficulties this diagnosis presents.


Ron Rutherford loves dogs, outdoor adventures, and the occasional sushi plate. He writes for Havahart Wireless, manufacturer of high-end electric fencing options for pets.

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What were the first signs you noticed? How did you dog get diagnosed? What treatment did/didn't work for you? What was your experience with your vet(s)? How did you cope with the challenges?

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