We are PennHIP Certified!!!!!

We are PennHIP Certified!!!!!


We have all known or seen a dog suffering from the crippling effects of hip dysplasia and hip arthritis. Hip dysplasia is the most common heritable orthopedic disease seen in veterinary practice and virtually all breeds are affected.The stiff gait, reluctance to move, and falling/slipping can be heartbreaking to watch. In the worst stages, even the most intricate pain medication combinations often cannot provide relief. Some patients require surgical intervention, and even then may continue to struggle with pain and achiness.

Although we often think of hip dysplasia as an “old dog” disease, the root of the problem actually arises early in life. Hallmarks of hip dysplasia include shallow hip joints and abnormal hip laxity. This means that the hip socket is very shallow and the head of the femur moves too much within the joint. With time, these abnormalities, combined with environmental factors such as patient weight, may result in secondary changes: flattening of the head of the femur, thickening of the neck of the femur, and development of arthritis in and around the hip joint. In summary, the problem begins early in life but then progresses in severity as dogs age. It starts as “hip dysplasia” and then worsens to hip dysplasia with osteoarthritis.

The images below show x-rays of the hips of a normal dog and one suffering from hip dysplasia osteoarthritis (HDOA). So how does “PennHIP” relate to all this? “PennHIP” is the most reliable way to assess a dog’s hips and predict their hip dysplasia status and risk of developing HDOA.

How PennHIP Works: The PennHIP procedure is a relatively quick, painless procedure where we take a series of 3 x-rays of your dog’s hips. The first view (similar to those shown above) looks for signs of arthritis. The other 2 views assess the laxity of the joint. Remember, this is THE primary risk factor for the development of HDOA. Your dog does have to be anesthetized to achieve the quality of x-rays needed. To optimize safety, your dog receives the same care and attention as any anesthetized surgical patient - a dedicated team member monitoring anesthesia, the option of pre-anesthetic bloodwork, etc. Your pets safety is our number one priority!

After we have taken our 3 x-ray images, we send them to Antech Imaging Services, where a trained professional calculates what we call the distraction index. This is basically a measurement of hip laxity. A tighter hip is a better hip, meaning there is less risk of HDOA.

Why PennHIP?

● Veterinarians must complete a special certification program to be able to take and submit x-rays for PennHIP analysis. The result of this is more consistent, reliable results than with other hip analyses.

● All x-rays taken are REQUIRED to be submitted. With other hip analyses programs, sometimes x-rays are taken but not submitted due to the severity of disease or other factors. This is strictly against PennHIP rules and any veterinarian found to be taking but not submitting radiographs to Antech Imaging is removed from the PennHIP program. This means that the PennHIP database is extensive and gives an accurate representation of dogs in the general population.

● The distraction index has been proven as the most reliable indicator of a dog’s risk of HDOA currently available to us. This has been proven through over 30 years of extensive research, both at the University of Pennsylvania and beyond.

● The distraction index has been proven reliable regardless of patient age, weight, etc.

How could this impact your pet?

When we think about PennHIP evaluation we can think of three broad benefit categories:

1. The direct benefit to the patient.

a. The distraction index gives us a clear assessment of your dog’s risk of HDOA.

For example, if a patient’s distraction index is 0.60, that dog has a 60% chance of developing HDOA. Knowing this risk allows us to make proactive, preventive changes to help slow or prevent the development. This may include weight management, joint supplements, specialty diets, and/or recheck x-rays. The goal is that when we understand a dog’s risk and intervene appropriately we can delay or prevent their need for anti-inflammatory medications or surgery.

2. Breeding benefits, where applicable.

a. Hip dysplasia is a polygenic trait, meaning it has both environmental (age, weight, etc.) and genetic factors. Research has proven that by choosing to only breed dogs with tighter hips, we can positively impact and improve each generation. As a general recommendation, we only want to breed dogs at or better than the average for their breed in the PennHIP database.

3. Database benefit.

a. Knowledge is power. As the PennHIP database grows, its significance and reliability grows too. Your dog’s evaluation helps bolster the database and help other dogs across the world. The PennHIP procedure can be performed in combination with another procedure (such as a spay or neuter) or alone. Patients are dropped off in the morning and picked up later in the day.

If you have any questions or would like to schedule a PennHIP procedure for your dogs (sorry,not available for cats!) please call the clinic at 406-846-1925.

Further information can also be found on the Antech PennHIP website at:


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