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Signs of & treatments for hip dysplasia in dogs

Signs of & treatments for hip dysplasia in dogs

Whether your dog already has hip dysplasia or belongs to the family of breeds who are vulnerable to this condition, it’s a good idea to gather as much information as you can about how to spot and soothe chronic joint pain. Because, while your furry friend may not be able to run and romp around forever, with the right care plan, you can make sure that they enjoy this slower phase of their life to the fullest.

In this article, we’ll explain what hip dysplasia is and how you can identify it in the early stages. We’ll also cover some of the best supplements, medications, and lifestyle changes that may ease your pup’s joint discomfort. Let’s take a closer look at this hip dysplasia in dogs.

What is hip dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia in dogs is a chronic orthopedic condition affecting the hip joint. In a normal hip joint, the round top of the femur, or the “ball,” fits snugly into the hip socket, located on the pelvic bone. But in dogs with hip dysplasia, these bones do not develop normally, resulting in space between the ball and socket of the hip joint. Over time, as the femur moves loosely in the socket, the protective cartilage becomes damaged, leading to inflammation, pain and arthritis.

For some dogs, hip dysplasia can eventually lead to lameness while others are not as severely impacted. The good news is, with today’s range of medical treatment options, many dogs live well into old age with a positive diagnosis.

At what age do dogs develop hip dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia is a condition that appears during the development of your dog’s musculoskeletal system, which can take place in the first year or two years of their lives.

If the hip dysplasia is severe, it is possible for problems to begin at this early stage. But, in most cases, dogs with hip dysplasia will not show symptoms until later on in life, after the hip joint has undergone a few to several years of wear and tear.

What causes dog hip dysplasia?

Because this type of joint condition happens during the developmental stage, there are a few possible causes for it.

On the one hand, hip dysplasia can be genetic. As we’ll discuss further, breed can be a factor in a dog’s likelihood of developing the condition. As such, dog breeders should always screen their breeding pairs to lower the risk of hip dysplasia from being passed on to puppies.

But, it’s not entirely hereditary. Poor nutrition during the developmental phase, as well as rapid weight-gain from overfeeding can both increase the risk of improper growth of the femur and hip socket.

Exercise can also be a factor in whether a dog can develop a strong musculoskeletal system. Too much exercise or too little during the puppy months can both negatively affect a dog’s development, leading to long-term issues.

For dogs with a genetic predisposition to hip dysplasia, these environmental factors can greatly increase the likelihood that they’ll have issues with the hip joint as they age.

Are some dog breeds more vulnerable to dog hip dysplasia?

While all dogs can develop hip dysplasia, large breed dogs are the most susceptible to this condition. German Shepherd hip dysplasia is the most common, but it’s also quite prevalent in Great Danes, Mastiffs, Saint Bernards and Labrador or Golden Retrievers. Bulldogs and French Bulldogs also seem to be at higher risk for developmental problems, as well.

Can you prevent hip dysplasia in puppies?

For some dogs, hip dysplasia is unavoidable. But, if you have a puppy in the high risk category or you generally want to protect your dog from chronic joint problems later in life, here are some good early life habits that may lower the risk:

  • Make sure your puppy gets the right nutrition. Proper nutrition is important at any life stage, but none more so than the puppy phase. Always feed your pup a highly nutritious, balanced dog food and be mindful of how many treats they get daily.
  • Find the right exercise level for your puppy. The right amount of exercise will be determined by your puppy’s age, weight, and breed. So, ask your vet what they recommend for appropriate daily exercise.
  • Have your puppy checked regularly for normal growth by a veterinarian. When you bring in your dog for their routine vaccine shots, your vet will also weigh them to monitor normal growth. If your dog is at high risk for hip dysplasia, you might also request special screenings to make sure their joints are developing normally.

What are the symptoms of hip dysplasia in dogs?

As your dog ages, here are some of the signs of hip dysplasia in dogs you should look out for:

  • Discomfort or hesitation when getting up from a sitting or sleeping position
  • Inability to exercise normally
  • Discomfort or intolerance for jumping or going up and down stairs
  • Unusual walking and running gait, sometimes with momentary lameness
  • Limping with no obvious cause, such as an injury
  • In some cases, chronic or worsening lameness

It’s important to note that some dogs will hide their symptoms more effectively than others. Even if you see mild versions of any of these symptoms, it’s important to have your dog checked by a vet.

How can you make life easier for a dog with hip dysplasia?

The good news is, there are a few options for Dog Owners looking to make life more comfortable for dogs with hip dysplasia. The following treatments may be appropriate for your pupper:

  • In some cases, surgery. Surgery is an option for some dogs with hip dysplasia, so if you’re open to the idea, consider asking your vet if your dog is a good candidate. The process is called THR, or total hip replacement surgery, and involves using metal and plastic implants to reconstruct the hip joint. While it is a major surgery, the success rate is very high and can greatly improve a dog’s mobility and comfort.
  • Medication. Whether or not your dog undergoes surgery, your vet may recommend a medication to lower inflammation and improve joint health. And with Pet Chemist, you can order prescription medication right from home so that making sure your dog is comfortable is easier than ever!
  • Physical therapy. Arthritis is a big concern for dog hip dysplasia patients, so physical therapy is a great treatment option. You might also consider learning from a professional how to massage your dog’s hips and legs to keep them comfortable between sessions.
  • Supplements. When it comes to joint strength and wellness, supplements can help. Whether your dog responds best to supplements with glucosamine, hemp, or collagen, you can find a wide range of joint care supplements on Pet Chemist.
  • Lifestyle changes. A hip dysplasia dog lifestyle doesn’t have to be completely devoid of exercise and adventure, but there are a few accommodations that can ease any discomfort. Ramps for the car, stairs, and furniture can keep your dog from having to strain their joints to jump. And you might swap out the high-impact exercise activities like running with gentle ones like swimming. Mentally stimulating activities like foraging and scent-tracking are also great ways to keep your dog happy and healthy even with a hip dysplasia diagnosis.

Hip dysplasia dogs deserve some extra love and care!

Now that you know more about hip dysplasia in dogs, you’re in a better position to lower the risk of your dog suffering from this chronic condition. If you think that your dog might be at high risk for hip dysplasia, now is a great time to talk to your vet about prevention and treatment plans. 


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