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OFA X-Rays Are Not Difficult!

To our amazement, and disappointment, the biggest obstacle to our hip program has been, and continues to be, veterinarians. Although a majority of vets have been supportive and helpful,  our puppy buyers regularly encounter resistance when they ask for the hip x-rays we require, especially regarding the use of anesthesia which we recommend against.

Most people don’t have any idea what the process of getting an OFA hip x-ray is actually like, so they don’t know when the information they are given is false. Let’s go over some of what our buyers face, and then we’ll take a look at the x-ray procedure.

Here are some of the most common roadblocks our customers run into with their veterinarian:

  • The BIG one: “You can’t take an OFA x-ray without anesthesia.” Yes you can. The only exception is a very strong dog that fights the positioning, in which case they can be given a little sedation. We haven’t sedated one since 1996.
  • “The OFA requires anesthesia.” Not true. Here is the veterinarian info from the bottom of an OFA application. If anesthesia was required there wouldn’t be an option to check “Physical restraint only”.

  • “You can’t get good positioning unless the dog is anesthetized.” Again, this may be true for dogs that are big and very strong but otherwise it is not the case, especially if the dog has a prominent spine as English setters have. If the dog is awake the muscle resistance actually helps keep the body lined up.
  • “I won’t do it without anesthesia because I don’t want to expose my employees to more radiation.” The process is identical whether the dog is awake or under anesthesia.
  • “The dog might bite someone.” If that’s a concern the dog can be muzzled.
  • “It’s painful.” Unless the dog is dysplastic this excuse is hogwash! See video below.
  • “OFA evaluations can’t be done before 2 years of age.” From the OFA website:
    “The OFA accepts preliminary consultation radiographs on puppies as young as 4 months of age for evaluation of hip conformation.”
  • “Dogs have to be registered in order to do an OFA”, or “They have to be registered with the AKC”. Not true. If a dog is not registered it will be assigned a study number that includes “NOREG” (we have over 300 reports on file that were done like this).

There are more, but these are the most common.

Here is what it’s really like.

It’s understandably hard to know what to think when your vet is using these arguments. Yesterday we took three dogs in for hip x-rays and shot a video of the process so everyone can see what’s involved.

  • The first dog is a 6 month old puppy. In our experience puppies of this age are virtually always calm and easy to deal with.
  • Second dog is an adult that is strong and fought the positioning more.
  • Third is another adult. She’s not dead at the end, just relaxed and being obedient:-)

The vet has to be able to see the positioning for the hip films, so experience makes a big difference. Our vet got acceptable x-rays first try on all three of these dogs, but to be fair he sometimes takes more than one before he’s satisfied with the positioning.

Two people are all that’s necessary, but a third one in the middle can make it easier to line things up well.

The X-Rays

Here are the 3 hip x-rays from yesterday in the same order as the films were taken.

Update- the OFA ratings, again in the order the films were taken:
Preliminary Good

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