Hip Dysplasia in Dogs: Symptoms & Treatments

by | Jun 10, 2021 | Dog Health

Your canine’s movements can put excess strain on its hip joints, especially since these parts support most of its upper body weight. But in some cases, the hip joints can fail due to constant exposure to pressure. 

Hip dysplasia, in particular, is a condition that can affect hip function. But what is it and how do you spot the signs? 

To help you understand hip dysplasia in dogs better, we’ve shared everything you need to know about the condition. Read on to learn more about hip dysplasia, including its causes, symptoms, and treatment options.

What is Hip Dysplasia?

Canine hip dysplasia is a common condition in large breeds of dogs, such as the Great Dane and German Shepherd. But sometimes, small canines can experience this health issue. 

Hip dysplasia occurs when the ball and socket joints in your dog’s hip fail to develop properly, resulting in pain that makes it difficult to move.

If your pet has the condition, its ball and socket won’t be in place and will grind against each other whenever it moves. In turn, these joints could weaken and eventually cease to function. Some long-term effects of the condition include the loss of cartilage, development of scar tissue, formation of bone spurs around the bone and socket.

What Causes Hip Dysplasia?

This debilitating condition can stem from several factors. Genetics is one cause of hip dysplasia since it’s a hereditary condition. Some factors can put your pet at a greater risk for hip displacement, including:

  • Excessive growth
  • Exercise
  • Deficient weight and diet

If you have big, young dogs they’ll need the right amount and type of food. Dog food for large pups is ideal because it helps prevent excess growth. Gradual growth is better because it’ll help your dog’s joints develop properly. That way, it’ll experience fewer health issues.

Obesity could also put your pet at a higher risk of hip dysplasia because of the pressure it puts on your pet’s joints. We encourage you to find the right diet and amount of exercise for your dog with your vet’s help.

Apart from the above-mentioned factors, a displaced hip can be caused by:

  • The environment or other external conditions
  • Muscle mass
  • Hormonal imbalances

What Symptoms Should I Look Out For?

The signs of hip dysplasia in dogs depend on the following:

  • How serious the condition is
  • How swollen your pet’s hip joints are
  • How unsteady the joints are
  • How long your canine has had the condition

Some red flags to look out for if your pet has a displaced hip include:

  • General inactivity
  • Difficulty standing, jumping, running, or climbing stairs
  • Limpness in the hind legs 
  • Swaying movements or “bunny walks”
  • Grinding of the hip joints while moving
  • A decrease thigh muscle mass but an increase in shoulder muscle mass
  • Stiffness in the hips

Hip dysplasia symptoms can be present in dogs as young as four months old. You might also notice the signs in growing pets with osteoarthritis.

How Will My Vet Diagnose Hip Displacement?

To see if your pet has hip dysplasia, your vet will check its physical condition. The exam can involve the following procedures:

  • Hind leg manipulation to check for detached joints, pain, or loss of motion
  • Blood tests to detect possible inflammations
  • Assessments of your pet’s medical history

Your vet will also take an X-ray to see how serious your canine’s condition is and which treatment methods are ideal.

What are the Possible Treatments for Hip Dysplasia?

Your dog’s symptoms and how much pain it feels will determine the best treatment. Here are some remedies that your vet may suggest:

  • Weight loss programs
  • Less exercise on hard surfaces
  • Physical therapy
  • Joint supplements
  • Anti-inflammatory medicine
  • Joint fluid modifiers

Your vet may also recommend any of the following surgeries for a displaced hip:

Double or Triple Pelvic Osteotomy

Double and triple pelvic osteotomy help treat pups with hip dysplasia. These surgeries involve cutting and turning your dog’s pelvic bone to help the ball and socket joint work better.

Femoral Head Osteotomy

Pups and adult canines can undergo femoral head osteotomy (FHO). During this procedure, a surgeon will cut the ball joint on your pet’s hip to create a false joint. In turn, it’ll reduce some of the pain from the displaced hip.

Total Hip Replacement

This surgery is extremely effective in addressing canine hip dysplasia. Total hip replacement involves placing metal and plastic implants in the hip joint’s original position. After the procedure, your pet will be able to move normally again.

How Long Can a Dog Live With Hip Dysplasia?

Dogs with hip dysplasia tend to live long, happy lives as long as they receive the right treatment. But in some cases, hip dysplasia can have a significant impact on a pet’s lifespan. For example, maintaining optimal health and activity can be a challenge if the pain constricts your dog’s movements.

To help increase your furry friend’s chances of longevity, addressing hip dysplasia is a must.

How Can I Help My Pet Stay Healthy Despite Hip Dysplasia?

A displaced hip is genetic, making prevention tough. But you can still control factors like your pet’s lifestyle and surroundings. 

First, make sure that your furry friend eats healthy and does light exercises, as the joints could be subjected to extra stress due to obesity. Your vet can help you find the right diet and exercise routine for your pet.

Start by feeding your pet high-grade and low-protein dry food. Regular exercise is also important for stronger muscles and less discomfort. Should you decide to increase your pet’s physical activity, be sure to keep a close eye on your pooch during exercise. Observe if your dog gets tired easily or if they’re uncomfortable or in pain.

Your pet’s environment can also cause or aggravate hip dysplasia. Try following these tips to help your dog stay safe and injury-free:

  • Avoid cold weather.
  • Give your pet a dry spot to sleep.
  • Place area rugs and mats on slippery surfaces.
  • Build a carpeted ramp to help your pet walk on your stairs.

More importantly, don’t forget to visit your vet regularly. Frequent check-ups help keep your dog on track to better health.

Keep Your Furry Friend Active & Comfortable

Hip dysplasia can make your furry friend inactive and leave you feeling down. However, you can avoid this from happening by taking good care of your pet and learning everything you can about the condition and how to avoid it. Don’t hesitate to ask your vet for advice on hip dysplasia and possible treatment.

To learn more about how to keep your pet healthy and avoid the risk of injury, visit our blog.


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