Canine Hip Dysplasia

Shelley Wenger
Photo byShelley Wenger at Canva

Canine hip dysplasia is a scary disease that can be devastating for your beloved dog. For this reason, you should learn as much as you can about this disease, including what it is, what you can do about it, and how you can give your dog the best chance at being healthy.

So, what is canine hip dysplasia?

Canine hip dysplasia is a condition that occurs in larger breed dogs and tends to occur as they grow. Basically, it is instability in the hip joint. As time goes by, the hip may become painful and arthritic.

What are the causes of this disease?

The truth is that we don’t really know what causes canine hip dysplasia. We do know that genetics plays a big role in it, which is why large breed dogs need to have their hips checked before they are bred.

It is thought that overfeeding large breed puppies, especially those who tend to grow too fast, can be a factor in this disease.
Photo byShelley Wenger at Canva

What are the signs that you should be looking out for?

The signs of canine hip dysplasia depend on how long your dog has been affected.

It typically starts with dogs who don’t really want to get up after they have been sleeping. They may struggle to get up after laying down, or you may notice that they don’t jump on the furniture like they used to. They may also not be as playful, though you may also think that they are just becoming less of a puppy!

Some dogs will hold their leg up, especially if one side is worse than the other. Over time, you may notice that your dog doesn’t have as much muscle on his or her rear legs. He or she may move away when you try to pet the back end.

How can your veterinarian diagnose hip dysplasia in dogs?

Unfortunately, it isn’t always simple to diagnose hip dysplasia. Most veterinarians will feel the hips to determine whether your dog could have this disease. Light anesthesia may need to be done in order to determine how loose your dog’s hips are.

Your veterinarian will feel a click, called the Ortolani Sign if he or she has the disease. However, if he or she doesn’t have the click, it doesn’t mean that your dog is never going to get it!

Because of this, your dog will need x-rays in order to officially diagnose your dog. That being said, positioning is everything and your veterinarian may not be trained to do this.

What are the treatments if your dog is diagnosed with hip dysplasia?

There are many different options when it comes to hip dysplasia.

There are different surgical options, depending on the severity of the disease. One surgery can be done when your dog is just a puppy. If your dog doesn’t get diagnosed until he or she is older, you may be looking at a hip replacement. The other surgery simply removes the hip joint. The muscles will keep the leg in place, and your dog will still be able to move around.

Because surgery is expensive, many owners decide to manage the disease medically. This means that you will need to treat your dog for pain when flair-ups happen. Eventually, your dog may need to be on daily pain medication to keep him or her comfortable.

You also need to restrict your dog so that no further damage is done. This includes leash walking and restricting play. A good glucose supplement can also help keep your dog comfortable, even if arthritis kicks in.

How can you prevent dog hip dysplasia?

If you have a puppy that is prone to hip dysplasia, you are going to need to do what you can to prevent the disease (or at least keep it from getting worse). You need to do the following:

Maintain a healthy weight. You should be careful what you feed your dog so he or she doesn’t get to be too heavy. Even without hip dysplasia, too much weight puts pressure on his or her joints, making it harder to move and get around.

Feed your puppy a large breed puppy food. This food is designed so that your puppy doesn’t grow too fast, allowing his or her bones to keep up.

Restrict his or her activity. Though your puppy and dog should be able to run, play, and generally enjoy life, if you know he or she has hip dysplasia (or could get it in the future), you should do what you can to restrict the activity.
Photo byShelley Wenger at Canva

If you own a large breed puppy or dog, you need to be on the lookout for hip dysplasia. The best thing that you can do is to keep him or her at a healthy weight. You may also ask your veterinarian to check for hip dysplasia when he or she is under anesthesia when getting fixed!


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Shelley is a small town farm mom of two boys. She is a veterinary technician, so she is proud to write about all kinds of animals and their care. She also loves to write about writing, running a business, working from home, and much more.

Glenville, PA

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