Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Hip Dysplasia, is a scary word for any giant or large breed dog owner.  This condition can radically reduce the quality of life of a dog. It is also a diagnosis no dog owner wants to hear.  Nonetheless, by educating yourself and gaining insight of the disease, you can play a vital role in keeping your pet’s condition under control.



Hip dysplasia (HD) is an abnormal formation of the hip socket. In its more severe form, it can cause crippling lameness and painful arthritis of the joints. Environmental factors affect this a genetic (polygenic) trait. It is common in many dog breeds, particularly the larger breeds, and is the most common single cause of arthritis of the hips.



Canine hip dysplasia is a skeletal condition particularly common in giant or large dog breeds. Although, it can also affect the smaller breeds. The hip joint operates like a ball and socket. For dogs with this condition, the joint fails to properly develop. The joint grinds and rubs as opposed to sliding smoothly.

This leads to gradual deterioration of the joint. Remember that hip dysplasia is not just limited to giant dog breeds. Improper nutrition 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.



Hip dysplasia in dogs is seen as early as four months of age. In others, it can develop in conjunction with osteoarthritis as they age.  In both cases, there are important common symptoms associated with Hip Dysplasia. Symptoms may vary from dog to dog, depending on a variety of factors. The severity of the disease, level of inflammation, a degree of looseness in the joint, and how long the dog has suffered from HD can determine symptoms. Few dogs suffer from all these symptoms. In general, the more symptoms they have, the more discomfort they are probably in.

Symptoms may include but aren’t limited to:
  • Sits first before lying down
  • Groans when lying down
  • Stands or walks with their head low
  • Decreased activity
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Difficulty or reluctance to rising, jumping, running, or climbing
  • Lameness in the hind end
  • Looseness of joint
  • Narrow stance or hind legs falling into each other
  • “Bunny Hopping” gait
  • Loss of muscle mass in the thighs
  • Pain
  • Stiffness



Although Hip Dysplasia is not curable, there are ways to alleviate the symptoms. Many dogs can lead a long life with hip dysplasia as owners become more aware of the condition. Early detection is of utmost importance so to implement treatment immediately.  For less severe cases, minor adjustments such as diet change, activity level, weight management, medication to reduce inflammation and alleviate pain, and supplements to support the joints and cartilage will help delay the progression of the disease.



Femoral Head Otectomy (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 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). Then, it’s attached to allow the joint function more ordinarily devoid of pain and looseness. Only dogs with no arthritic changes should undergo this procedure.

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.



HD itself is unpreventable if it is genetically determined.  An overload in the puppy age is preventable – as described above – by mindfulness very well.  Who finally has a dog with HD, must be very careful with the animal. First, allow your dog to stay a dog, so in the context of his zest for life and his urge to move may express.

On the other hand, a certain protections are necessary, especially when it comes to jumping and climbing stairs. The dog should always keep warm, and also his documents, pillows and blankets should be carefully selected HD-friendly. That is, such a pad should make it easier for the dog to get on its legs, so possibly be a little bit higher. If it lies, the pad should depressurize.



Dogs that are diagnosed with Hip Dysplasia can live a happy, long, full life, particularly with treatment. If your dog has been recently diagnosed with HP, or you suspect your pet has hip dysplasia, consult your veterinarian as soon as possible to learn how you can make the proper adjustments to his lifestyle and for treatment options.

*Miami Pet Concierge provides professional and quality care for Miami’s pets. Our customized care is based on our client’s pet’s breed, age, and health. Keeping your pets “happy, healthy, home”! ™



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