The facts on PennHIP

Newstead Vets are delighted to announce the introduction of a brand new service for diagnosing hip dysplasia in dogs, called “PennHIP” (University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program). Thanks to this new system we can now offer a much more accurat screening method for canine hip dysplasia (CHD).

New Zealand can also be proud to be the very first country in the world to do away with the older much less accurate “hip scoring” system. This will happen on 1st January 2014. The reason is simple: the old system just wasn’t getting results. Sincere efforts by vets and dog breeders over many decades, trying to use the old hip scoring to improve the hips of many breeds of dogs, have led to very disappointing results to say the least.

Why is hip dysplasia a problem? Canine Hip Dysplasia is a genetic problem leading to too much laxity (“looseness”) of the hip joint. Loose hips lead to osteoarthritis of the hip joint. Tight hips don’t. Almost all greyhounds have very tight hips and as a result they almost never get hip arthritis. Hip dysplasia is the commonest orthopaedic disease in dogs. It afflicts literally millions of dogs each year, so this is a huge problem. As well as the suffering caused, CHD every year costs owners and breeders millions of dollars in veterinary care, shortened work longevity, and reduced performance.

The occurrence of CHD is well documented in the large and giant breed dogs, but there is also evidence that CHD is prevalent in many small and toy breeds as well as in cats. In some breeds of dog, more than 50% of dogs are afflicted.

The old hip scoring methods may have failed, but the PennHIP method has proved that it is up to the task. It is validated by many scientific studies. This is great news for dogs!

Dog breeders can now find out which are the best parents to breed from, to reduce the risk of hip dysplasia in the offspring. Over time this has the potential to entirely eliminate this debilitating orthopaedic disease.

If you’re thinking of getting a new puppy, especially of a medium to large breed, ask the person you’re getting it from if they’ve had the
parents PennHIP-tested. We hope that all dog breeders in New Zealand will do the right thing and embrace the new PennHIP test. After January next year, it will still be possible for breeders to get the old hip-scoring done in Australia. Our concern is that this will not benefit dogs, and will only prolong the time taken to eradicate this disease.
The person with the most influence is the paying customer, and that’s you! Insist on PennHIP!

Clearly, the greatest advances can be made through selective breeding in the future. But this doesn’t help your dog now. If you have your dog PennHIP tested and the result is that your dog has loose hips, what can you do? It has been shown that the single most effective ‘treatment’ is to keep your dog slim throughout its life. Of course this will prevent many other diseases as well, which is great! But it has been proven that keeping your dog with CHD lean will significantly delay the onset and the severity of arthritis.

We hope you will be as excited as us about this. Please ask us about this if you would like more information or would like to get your dog “PennHIP’ed”.

We look forward to a brighter future for the canine world!

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