All about Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

All about Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Hip Dysplasia is perhaps the most terrifying word for any giant and large breed dog owners, and for a good reason. This is a condition which can radically reduce the quality of life of a dog, and is merely unbearable for owners. Nonetheless, the good thing is that if you embrace your responsibility as a large dog owner and also educate yourself and gain insight of potential health conditions such as hip dysplasia, it can play a vital role in ultimately keeping your pet comfortable. If you own a dog and have not heard about hip dysplasia, herein is everything you need to know about this condition, inclusive of the symptoms, options of treatment, as well as prevention measures that you can adapt to ensure your dog remains healthy, active, and happy.

Defining Hip Dysplasia

Canine hip dysplasia is a skeletal condition particularly common in giant or large dog breeds, although it can also affect the smaller breeds. To best understand what it is, it is essential to understand the hip joint anatomy. The hip joint operates like a ball and socket. For dogs with this condition, the joint fails to properly develop, grinding and rubbing as opposed to sliding smoothly. This leads to gradual deterioration and the join remember that hip dysplasia is not just limited to giant dog breeds. • Improper nutrition This can influence the likelihood of a dog developing this disease not to mention too little or too much exercise. Obesity causes strain on the dog’s joints which can worsen existing conditions such as hip dysplasia or even lead to it. Get proper advice from your vet on the most appropriate diet for your pet as well as how much exercise he/she needs every day to remain in proper shape.

Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia

Some of the dog breeds begin to exhibit hip dysplasia as early as four months while for other dog breeds it develops together with osteoarthritis over the years. However, in each case, there are several symptoms which you should always look out for. These symptoms can vary depending on various factors including severity of this ailment, inflammation level, duration of the disease, and degree of joint looseness. • Decreased activity • Reluctance or difficulty jumping, rising, climbing stairs, or even running • Stiffness • Reduced motion range • Pain • Joint looseness • Narrow stance • Hind end lameness • Swaying gait (“bunny hopping”) • Grating during movement (happens in the joint) • Thigh muscle mass loss • Visible enlargement of shoulder muscles since they compensate for the hind end

Diagnosing Hip Dysplasia

At your usual dog checkup, your veterinary will usually perform a standard physical exam. And while this checkup is enough for he/she to detect, sometimes, the work is all up to you to identify and alert your veterinarian about your dog’s condition. On suspecting your dog has hip dysplasia, your veterinarian should carry out a full physical exam. He/she will assess the flexibility of the joint. The veterinarian will check on the hind legs to determine the looseness of the joint as well as check out for any pain, grinding, or minimized motion of range. A definitive diagnosis comes typically with radiography (x-ray). The veterinarian will usually take radiographs of the hips of the dog to determine both the severity and degree of the hip dysplasia. This helps him/her identify the best method of treating your dog.


Currently, there are several surgical and medical options to help restore the mobility of your pet and reduce discomfort. The treatment method depends on various factors including the severity of the condition and age of the dog. And while surgery is also an option, it is, however, the last resort where other treatment options prove ineffective. Non-surgical options Non-surgical treatment of dysplasia is substantially similar to that of treating arthritis as it includes a program to manage weight (inclusive of nutritional supplements), medication to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain, and medicine to repair and help support the cartilage.

Surgical options

• Femoral head ostectomy (FHO): this is the removal of the ball section of the joint. Is it particularly useful in small dogs since it leads to the formation of a functional? false joint’-something not all large dogs can form.

Triple osteotomy: this procedure involves the cutting of the pelvis into three pieces around the hip joint. The method rotates the bone to establish better alignment with the ball (femoral head). It is then reattached to allow the joint function more ordinarily devoid of pain and looseness. It should only be done to a dog having no arthritic changes.

• Total Hip Replacement (THR): this is the replacement of the hip joint with an artificial ball and socket usually comprising stainless steel and plastic attached to the femur and pelvis in place of the otherwise abnormal joint.

Preventing Hip Dysplasia

Not every hip dysplasia case is preventable. However, by taking several distinct steps, you help lower the susceptibility of your dog to this disease. First, you need to ensure the skeletal system of your dog remains healthy from an early age. This you can do by providing a proper diet, particularly for large puppy breeds. It gives him/her an edge on healthy joint and bone development and also prevents excessive growth which leads to this disease.

Proper Exercise and a healthy diet are essential as your pet grows since it helps prevent obesity-a significant contributing factor to this disease. Obesity is also the cause of other numerous health complications in dogs including elbow dysplasia and diabetes.

Giant and large dog breeds usually comprise joint supplements such as glucosamine. Nevertheless, you can also buy additional glucosamine supplements for your dog especially if it susceptible to developing hip dysplasia and arthritis over time. Although research is inadequate, these supplements can help alleviate hip dysplasia symptoms.

The most effective way you can prevent hereditary hip dysplasia is screening your breeding dogs for this disease. OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) health testing may help breeders identify the condition of the hips of their dogs ensuring they only breed dogs boasting standard hip joints.


A dog with hip dysplasia usually leads to a long, full life, particularly with treatment. If your dog has been recently diagnosed with hip dysplasia, or you suspect that your pet has hip dysplasia, consult with your veterinary on the various lifestyle changes and treatment options you can adapt to ensure a comfortable life for your dog as it ages.

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