Nothing can break a dog's spirit – but hip dysplasia can sure ruin your best friend's mobility and make life very painful. That's why the funky-looking Hipster rehabilitation brace could end up being such a significant product. It's designed to hold the hip in place to prevent further dislocation and injury, while providing resistance to strengthen the dog's leg muscles and connective tissue to the point where your pup doesn't need the brace any more.
Hip dysplasia affects different breeds of dog at different rates, but either way, it's a painful and nasty condition that restricts mobility for our four-legged friends. Mind you, it can't squash their jubilant spirits, can it? Eh? Eh? Who's got a jubilant spirit? Is it you? Oh it's you!
Ahem. Hip dysplasia develops when the muscle and connective tissue around the hip joint loosen up enough to let the "ball" in the ball-and-socket hip joint arrangement dislocate itself slightly and start damaging the hip socket itself. Over time, bone-on-bone contact can cause pretty sever damage to the socket, resulting in painful, arthritic hips. Eventually, some dogs lose all muscle tone and the ability to stand up unassisted. It's a real heartbreaker.
There are numerous slings and walking aids you can get to try to assist affected dogs, but we haven't come across an actual rehabilitation harness before, which is why we find the Hipster brace by Israeli designer Galia Weiss so intriguing.
The Hipster is designed to do two things. Firstly, it lifts and supports the dog's rear end, holding the hips in place with a rigid frame. Secondly, it provides additional resistance that the back leg muscles have to work against.
Developing those rear leg muscles is the key point here. Low-impact exercise that strengthens those rear leg muscles can help tighten up the muscle and connective tissue in the hip area and help the dog's hip get back to a condition where it's mechanically stable again. The Hipster brace provides a safe way to exercise those muscles while keeping the hip in place to prevent further damage.
The Hipster isn't a product yet – Weiss is doing some testing to prove the concept – but the idea seems sound, and Weiss is hoping to commercialize the idea if there's enough interest. I suspect there's going to be a lot of interest.
With that, I'd like to dedicate a section at the end of our photo gallery to my goofy lab Eva, who has between 8 and 11 percent chance of developing dysplasia according to OFFA statistics, and who wants you all to know that nobody ever feeds her, ever. She classes herself as an interior decorator, but her mother and I don't recognize her credentials.