Border collies are active dogs that have a naturally ability to herd livestock, and most are bred for that purpose. Border collies are generally a healthy breed, but like many larger dogs, border collies can have hip joint problems, including hip dysplasia (HD) and arthritis, or degenerative joint disease (DJD), also called osteoarthritis. Environmental factors such as age, obesity, inactivity, joint overuse, poor diet, injury or rapid growth and rapid weight gain can cause or contribute to painful hip damage.
Hip Dysplasia (HD)
HD is a genetic disease; one or both parents must have one or more HD genes that are passed on to their offspring. HD causes abnormal development of the hip joint and leaves it susceptible to damage from arthritic diseases that cause joint inflammation and breakdown of bone and cartilage. The presence of one or more HD genes does not doom the dog to HD but makes hip problems more likely, particularly if the dog is exposed to negative environmental factors.
Arthritis is a degenerative disease that results from worn or damaged joints or joint cartilage. The disease is typically found in older and larger dogs with worn joints, although younger dogs can develop arthritis after an injury or accident. Some infections and diseases can also lead to arthritis, but the main causes of arthritis are inherited hip dysplasia or osteoarthritis resulting from cartilage and joint damage. The disease can be very painful and needs to be treated.
Treating Hip Dysplasia
If your dog shows signs of lameness, has difficulty standing or walking or getting up and down, or is walking on three legs, seek help from your veterinarian. Treating your dog with chondroitin sulphate and glucosamine hydrochloride can dramatically improve joint function and decrease pain. If the pain continues, your dog may need aspirin/codeine combinations, phenylbutazone, or corticosteroids. In severe cases, your dog may require a total hip replacement.
Preventing Hip Dysplasia
The American Border Collie Association recommends that you purchase border collie puppies from reputable breeders who have tested the parents for the HD genes and have observed their offspring and siblings for outward signs of HD. Although the testing does not guarantee that the puppies have not inherited a predisposition for HD, testing does increase the likelihood that the puppy does not have an HD gene.
Decreasing the Likelihood of Developing HD
Make sure your dog has proper nutrition and exercise. Obese dogs and sedentary dogs are much more likely to develop hip problems. Rapid weight gain and rapid growth can damage hip joints in puppies. Feed your puppies puppy food rather than adult dog food, which contains too much calcium and phosphorus. Feed puppies smaller quantities to avoid growth spurts but make sure puppies have enough food to meet their high caloric needs.