Doctoral research by Randi I. Krontveit at the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science has revealed that environmental factors play a larger role in the development of hip dysplasia than previously thought.
The critical period is from birth to the age of three months. Activities such as walking up steps on a daily basis during this critical period increased the risk of developing hip dyplasia.
The study group consisted of 500 dogs in four breeds: the Labrador Retriever, the Newfoundland, the Leonberger and the Irish Wolfhound.
Environmental factors were assessed by questionnaires filled out by breeders and owners alongside examinations by veterinarians. Dogs were followed for a period of ten years, making the findings of the study particularly robust.
Puppies born in the spring or summer and at breeders’ who lived on a farm or small holding had a lower risk of developing hip dysplasia. After about eight weeks, the puppies began to live with their new owners. The opportunity to exercise daily in parks up until the age of three months reduced the risk of hip dysplasia.
Overall, it would appear that daily exercise out in gently undulating terrain up until the age of three months has a positive impact when it comes to preventing the disease.
For more information about this research, you can email Dr Krontveit via this page at the Norwegian School of Veterinary Medicine.