Thursday, 9 October 2008

Hip Scoring & Breeding.

I was discussing hip scores with a client as she wanted to know if it was worth breeding (NO). Would her Labrador need a hip score if breeding (Yes).
Hip scoring is an x-ray taken of the patients hips to check for hip dysplasia. HD is abnormal formation of the hip socket, is very painful, and may require an artificial hip, or other surgery to correct it, or them if both sides are affected.
The bitch was too young at that point as she was only 10months old, a hip score is only done over a year old. Once scored the hips can not be re-scored, “you gets what you gets!.

Doing a hip score x-ray is one of those painful episodes in a vn’s life. In many practices x-rays are the vet nurses domain. Vets may pop in and check you have the view they want, and they always diagnose, but the setting up of patient and machine is for the vn.

The patient has to be lying on their back, usually supported in a plastic trough.
Wedges placed around so they do not roll over. Some dogs are thin, and roll like a boat on a stormy sea, no matter how you try and wedge them, using foam wedges and sandbags.
Each leg has to be the same height from the table top and pulled out straight (along the tail line) and together, at the correct angle.
This is an unnatural position and the legs do not like this. A foam wedge is placed so the legs do not loose the straight line and form a sort of hip to toe triangle.
Tape is often wrapped around or across the legs to hold the position and more wedges to support placed under the lower leg (away from the xray)
The pelvis must be flat and perfectly straight across the xray cassette.

Five x-rays (depending how good a day it is or isn’t) and slight readjustments to position or machine settings finally the decision is that the picture is as perfect as can be taken.
A few weeks later you get a rejection slip saying not good enough. This means back comes the dog, another anaesthetic and more muttering noises from the nurse!.
Usually things are ok on the second set but they look identical to the first set. The outcome to the nurse is the same. A frazzled bad hair day, that requires a large coffee or tea and a bit of chocolate to de-stress.

The score system is based on 9 areas per side with an overall score from 0 (best) to 106 (worst)/side.
Each breed has a mean score, indicating the breed’s predisposition towards hip dysplasia. 16 in UK for Labradors.
I know a boasting Lab breeder that told me she bred from a bitch who had a score on one side of 42. Most of the litter was destroyed, mum as well. It was ok though as she made money on the others. I did manage to be almost polite to her.

The particular client l had been discussing hip scores and breeding with decided against breeding. I threw the whole gamut of what was needed and could go wrong at her.
The £600 for a caesarean (which generally insurance won't cover), possible hand raising and 2 hour feeds of puppies.
And if the above did not happen you still have the cost of doing it properly. The food, the mess around the house (unless it is in an outside kennel), worming at the correct intervals of mum and puppies, arranging first vaccines, arranging insurance (free first 6 weeks), advertising. Looking for the correct sire and those fees and checking his health.

Many breeds are part of the hip have Hip Score scheme and other scoring schemes for hereditary problems. If you must have a pedigree for all pre health checks of the parents that the breed has available to it.
A Labrador should have had hip and elbow score and eye checks for Progressive Retinal Atrophy.
Many breeders do not do the above, do part, or do none. The sensible ones do everything and more but they do not usually make any money.


I am driving home tomorrow back across the country after work. I do not think l will get to writing, instead l shall put finger to keyboard before work on Saturday.

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