How This is Diagnosed
- Diagnosis of hip dysplasia is usually made through the combination of a physical exam and x-rays.
The method used by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) has been the standard for many years as in the one recognized by the AKC. X-rays are taken under specific guidelines (any licensed veterinarian can take OFA radiographs) and are then submitted to OFA for evaluation of hip dysplasia and certification of hip status.
Being able to make a clear diagnosis is more difficult before the age of 2 years old. For this reason, puppies are not evaluated by OFA, though preliminary evaluations can be done. In addition, this is not performed on females that are experiencing a heat cycle
; the test may be given 1 month before or after a heat cycle.
Because it is important for a dog’s body to be very still during this evaluation and for muscles to be relaxed, OFA recommends that the dog be under anesthesia, though this is not required. Most dogs will receive medication to relax the muscles. The x-rays are reviewed by 3 radiologists and a consensus score is given based on the dog’s hip conformation in comparison to other dogs of the same breed and age group. Using a 7 point scoring system, hips are scored as normal (excellent, good, fair), borderline dysplastic, or dysplastic (mild, moderate, severe). Dogs with hips scored as borderline or dysplastic are not able to be cleared through OFA for breeding. This is why, if you are getting a Shih Tzu puppy, you should ask to see proof that both dam and sire were OFA tested.
Once the forms are sent in to OFA, the average time that it takes to receive the results is 2 weeks. If a dog passes, he will receive an OFA certificate, which clears him of this genetic condition. As of this writing, the cost for this test is $35 + x-ray and veterinarian fees.