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Research article2010Peer reviewed

Association between radiographic assessment of hip status and subsequent incidence of veterinary care and mortality related to hip dysplasia in insured Swedish dogs

Malm, Sofia; Fikse, Freddy; Egenvall, Agneta; Bonnett, B.N.; Gunnarsson, L.; Hedhammar, Åke; Strandberg, Erling


Our objective was to evaluate the association between grading of hip status as assessed by radiographic examination (hip screening) and subsequent incidence of veterinary care and mortality related to hip dysplasia (HD) in five breeds of insured dogs in Sweden. Screening results for hip status from the Swedish Kennel Club and data on veterinary care and mortality from the insurance company Agria were merged based on the registration number of the dog. Dogs of five breeds (Bernese Mountain Dogs, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and Rottweilers) screened during 1995-2004 and covered by an insurance plan for veterinary care or life at the time of screening were included. The study populations included between 1667 and 10,663 dogs per breed. Breed-specific multivariable Cox proportional-hazards analyses were performed to evaluate the impact of radiographic hip status on time from hip screening to first HD-related veterinary and life claim, respectively. The effects of gender, birth season, and a time-varying covariate of year were also studied. Additional analyses, on the five breeds combined, were performed to investigate the effects of hip status, breed, and the interaction between hip status and breed. The effect of hip status was highly significant (P < 0.001) for both life and veterinary claims related to HD in all five breeds with increased hazard ratio (HR) for deteriorating hip status. Dogs with moderate or severe hip status at screening had a markedly increased hazard of HD-related veterinary care and mortality compared with dogs assessed as free or mild. The time-varying covariate of year showed a significantly higher HR in the last time period for German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers in the analyses of veterinary claims. In the analyses on all five breeds, German Shepherds had the highest HR for both veterinary care and mortality related to HD, followed by Bernese Mountain Dogs. Golden and Labrador Retrievers had the lowest HR. The effect of hip status on the hazard was the same irrespective of breed. However, as a consequence of differences between breeds in overall risk, the predictive ability of screening results for subsequent incidence of HD-related problems for individual dogs was breed-dependent. Based on the strong association between radiographic hip status and incidence of HD-related veterinary care and mortality, and the previously reported moderate heritability of hip status, we conclude that selection based on screening results for hip status can be expected to reduce the risk of HD-related clinical problems. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


Canine; Diagnosis; Hip screening; Survival; Cox proportional-hazards model

Published in

Preventive Veterinary Medicine
2010, Volume: 93, number: 2-3, pages: 222-232 Publisher: ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV