Hip Dysplasia in Dogs: What You Should Know to Prevent

hip dysplasia in dogs

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Got a furry friend with mobility issues or signs of discomfort? It could be Hip Dysplasia. This common condition acts like a glitch in their hip joint, causing pain and difficulty moving. As a responsible owner, understanding Hip Dysplasia in Dogs, recognizing its symptoms, and knowing what is good for dogs joints, how to manage and prevent it are crucial for the well-being of your furry companion.

What is Hip Dysplasia in Dogs and Puppies? 

Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Hip Dysplasia is a common orthopedic condition that affects dogs and puppies, causing pain, discomfort, and mobility issues. It is a developmental disorder that primarily affects the hip joint, leading to abnormal formation and functioning of the joint

The hip joint is a ball-and-socket joint, with the ball-shaped head of the femur fitting into the socket of the pelvis. In Dogs with Hip Dysplasia, the joint is loose, unstable, or improperly formed, resulting in abnormal wear and tear, inflammation, and eventually, degeneration.

It can occur in dogs of any breed or size, but certain breeds are more prone to the condition. Breeds such as Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and Bulldogs have a higher incidence of hip dysplasia.

What Causes It? What are the Signs of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs?

Hip Dysplasia in Dogs can be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. While genetics play a significant role, other factors like nutrition, growth rate, and physical stress can also contribute to its development. Understanding the causes and recognizing the signs of this condition are crucial for early detection and effective management.


  • Genetics: Hip dysplasia can be inherited from parents with the condition. Breeding dogs with hip dysplasia increases the likelihood of their offspring developing the condition.
  • Nutrition: Poor nutrition during the critical growth period can affect proper bone and joint development, potentially increasing the risk of hip dysplasia.
  • Growth Rate: Rapid growth in puppies can sometimes outpace the development of their bones and joints, leading to an increased risk of hip dysplasia.
  • Physical Stress: Excessive exercise, especially at a young age, can put strain on the developing joints and contribute to hip dysplasia.

Signs of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs:

Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

  • Difficulty Rising: Dogs with Hip Dysplasia may have trouble getting up from a lying or sitting position. They may struggle or appear stiff and uncomfortable.
  • Reluctance to Move: Dogs may show hesitation or reluctance to engage in certain activities like running, jumping, climbing stairs, or playing.
  • Altered Gait: A bunny-hopping or swaying gait can be indicative of hip dysplasia. Dogs may also exhibit lameness or favor one leg over the other.
  • Pain or Discomfort: Dogs with Hip Dysplasia may display signs of pain, such as vocalization, sensitivity when touched around the hip area, or general discomfort during movement.
  • Muscle Loss: Over time, muscle atrophy can occur in the hindquarters due to reduced mobility and decreased use of the affected hip joint.

Note: It’s important to note that the severity of the signs can vary from mild to severe, depending on the individual dog and the progression of the condition. 

How Do You Treat Dog Hip Dysplasia?

Surgical treatment options can provide significant relief and enhance joint function in dogs. These interventions aim to address the underlying structural abnormalities in the hip joint and improve your furry companion’s quality of life. Let’s explore the common types of surgical treatments, their procedures, and factors to consider, including the potential costs involved.

Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO):

Femoral head ostectomy is a surgical procedure often recommended for smaller dogs or when other surgical options are not feasible. During the procedure:

  1. The ball-shaped femoral head is removed.
  2. Scar tissue eventually forms in the joint space, creating a “false joint.”
  3. The surrounding muscles provide support and stability to compensate for the missing femoral head.

FHO surgery can help alleviate pain and improve mobility, especially in cases where severe Arthritis in Dogs or joint degeneration is present. Recovery typically involves physical therapy and rehabilitation exercises to strengthen the surrounding muscles.

Triple Pelvic Osteotomy (TPO):

Triple pelvic osteotomy is primarily performed on young dogs with hip dysplasia. The procedure aims to improve hip joint stability and function. Here’s an overview of the TPO surgery:

  1. The pelvic bone is cut in three places.
  2. The segments are repositioned to achieve better alignment and coverage of the hip joint.
  3. Plates and screws are used to secure the bone segments in their new positions.
  4. Over time, the joint develops more normally, reducing the risk of future complications.

TPO is typically performed before significant arthritis or joint degeneration occurs. Post-operative care involves restricted activity, physical therapy, and follow-up evaluations to monitor the dog’s progress.

Total Hip Replacement (THR):

Total hip replacement is a sophisticated surgical procedure that replaces the entire hip joint with an artificial prosthesis. THR provides the best long-term outcomes and is recommended for dogs with severe hip dysplasia or advanced osteoarthritis. The procedure involves:

  1. Removing the damaged parts of the hip joint, including the femoral head and the socket (acetabulum).
  2. Implanting prosthetic components, which replicate the natural hip joint, allowing for improved mobility and reduced pain.
  3. Post-operative care includes controlled exercise, physical rehabilitation, and monitoring for any complications.

Total hip replacement is an advanced procedure performed by veterinary specialists. It can result in a significant improvement in a dog’s quality of life and long-term joint function.

Considerations and Costs:

When considering surgical treatment for hip dysplasia, several factors should be taken into account:

  • The severity of your dog’s hip dysplasia and the presence of other complicating factors.
  • The age, size, and overall health of your dog, as well as their expected post-operative recovery potential.
  • The expertise and experience of the veterinary surgeon performing the surgery.
  • Post-operative care requirements, including physical therapy and rehabilitation.

The costs associated with surgical treatment for hip dysplasia can vary depending on factors such as geographical location, the specific procedure performed, and any additional treatments or post-operative care required. It is recommended to consult with a veterinary specialist to discuss the estimated costs and financial considerations related to the surgery.

5 Ways to Prevent Hip Dysplasia in Dogs?

While Hip Dysplasia in Dogs has a genetic component, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk and promote healthy joint development. By implementing preventive measures, you can help safeguard your furry friend from the discomfort and limitations associated with hip dysplasia. Here are five effective strategies:

  1. Responsible Breeding Practices:Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

If you plan to breed dogs, it is crucial to prioritize responsible breeding practices. This includes selecting breeding dogs with healthy hip joints, ideally certified by organizations like the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) or the PennHIP program. By breeding from dogs with good hip scores, you can reduce the likelihood of passing on the genes associated with hip dysplasia.

  1. Balanced Nutrition and Diet:

Providing a balanced and appropriate diet is essential for promoting healthy bone and joint development. Consult with your veterinarian to ensure your dog receives a well-balanced diet that meets their specific nutritional needs, taking into consideration factors such as age, breed, and any existing health conditions. Adequate levels of essential nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, and omega-3 fatty acids are particularly important for supporting optimal joint health.

  1. Controlled Growth and Exercise:

Rapid growth and excessive exercise can potentially contribute to the development of hip dysplasia. To minimize the risk, avoid overfeeding your puppy and ensure controlled growth by following appropriate feeding guidelines. Additionally, avoid high-impact activities such as excessive jumping or rough play, especially during the crucial growth stages. Instead, provide structured and controlled exercise to help build muscle strength and promote joint stability.

  1. Maintaining Healthy Body Weight:

Maintaining a healthy body weight is crucial in preventing hip dysplasia and reducing stress on the joints. Excess weight places additional strain on the hip joints, increasing the likelihood of joint instability and potential degeneration. Regularly monitor your dog’s weight and consult with your veterinarian to establish an appropriate diet and exercise regimen to maintain a healthy body condition.

  1. Joint Supplements for Dogs: Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Joint supplements can play a valuable role in promoting canine joint health and reducing the risk of hip dysplasia. These supplements contain specific ingredients such as glucosamine, chondroitin, and omega-3 fatty acids that support the integrity of joint structures, enhance cartilage health, and reduce inflammation.

By being proactive in understanding, preventing, and managing hip dysplasia, dog owners can provide their furry companions with the support they need to lead active, comfortable lives. With early intervention, proper care, and a commitment to their well-being, Dogs with Hip Dysplasia can continue to enjoy the love, companionship, and joy they bring to our lives.

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