The crucial Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Hip dysplasia in dogs, is an inherited condition which shows an improper hip joints as symptoms, which happens in their growing stages. This disease is extremely painful and our four legged friends will struggle to do their normal activities. The two primary causes of hip dysplasia are genetics and diet.

What is Hip Dysplasia?

The word ‘Dysplasia’ means abnormal growth. The hip is the part of your dog, where the spine and upper body meet the leg, and three bones fuse together to make the hip bone: Sacrum, Ilium and Acetabulum.

Hip joint is composed of ‘ball’ and ‘socket’ joint. The ball portion is the head of the femur or thighbone, where the socket is located in the pelvis. The head of the femur rotes looks like a ball within the hip (acetabular). During their growth, both the ‘ball and the socket’ must grow at equal rates, but uniform growth does not occur in hip dysplasia. When these two structures do not fit tightly, then they rattle around eventually, this deforming of bones causes inflammation, arthritis and pain.

Hip dysplasia is one of the most common skeletal diseases seen in dogs and the gender does not seem to be an important factor. Large and giant breeds are most commonly affected by this disease because, they weigh more and this may occur in one or both sides of a dog’s hip.

Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia

Abnormal hip causes an abnormal gait. Dogs of all ages are subjected to hip dysplasia and osteoarthritis. In case of puppies, they may suffer from pain and discomfort during and after exercise. Eventually, these dogs may unable to walk.

The symptoms of dogs that are middle-aged or older are:

  • Early stage: signs are related to joint looseness.
  • Later stage: signs are related to joint degeneration and osteoarthritis.
  • Hesitate to extend or stretch their legs.
  • Use both back legs to hop simultaneously, when they run.
  • Inability to climb stairs.
  • Grating detected with joint movement.
  • Intermittent or lameness.
  • Difficulty in rising.
  • Refusal to participate in everyday activities.
  • Require assistance in getting-up.
  • Loss of muscle mass in thigh muscles.
  • Enlargement of shoulder muscles due to more weight.

Breeds Most Prone to Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia can affect all the breeds, including mixed breeds. However, most commonly it’s affected by large and giant breeds than small ones. Some breeds are more genetically susceptible to hip laxity, such as German shepherd, Golden Retrievers, Rottweiler’s, Labrador Retrievers, Great Dane and Saint Bernard’s. On the other hand, Greyhounds and Sighthounds are tall in nature and they are relatively thin. Therefore, they don’t put their weight constantly on their hip and so the chances of developing hip dysplasia are very low in them.

This disease primarily affects the pure breed and it can also happen in mixed breeds, if it is a cross of two dogs that are prone to developing this disease. Apart from dogs, hip dysplasia can be found in humans and cats.

Risk Factors of Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is usually caused by a subluxation in the hip joint. There are three main known risk factors, which increases the chance of developing dysplasia and they are:

  • Researchers, scientists and veterinarians agree that hip dysplasia is a genetic disease. If a parent has hip dysplasia, then their offspring will also develop this disease at higher risk. It’s possible to reduce the incidence of hip dysplasia through selective/selectively breeding; however, the disease cannot be reduced completely through selective breeding. In other words, if we breed two dysplastic dogs, then their offsprings are likely develop the disease but they may not have same level of symptoms or even necessarily show any symptoms.
  • Nutrition and weight gain plays a huge role in hip dysplasia. Experimentally, it has been proven that obesity can increase the severity of the disease in genetically susceptible breeds. Dogs that are born genetically prone to hip dysplasia and of overweight are at high risk of developing hip dysplasia and eventually to osteoarthritis. Another factor is rapid growth in puppies, during the ages from three to ten months. Feeding diet that has too much calcium or other minerals also leads to develop hip dysplasia, diet must be carefully monitored.
  • Exercise is another risk factor. A high-impact activity such as jumping put’s extra strain on a dog’s hind quarters, which leads to deterioration to hip joints. Moderate exercise that strengthens the gluteal muscles such as running and swimming may decrease the incidence of the disease. And it is important to avoid repeating activities, which can cause repetitive strain.

Diagnosing and Treating Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is quite easy to diagnose, since there will be clinical signs of arthritis and pain. For further analysis, veterinarians perform a complete physical check-up on dog’s including a chemical profile, radiographs, complete blood count, an electrolyte panel and urinalysis.

This disease can be treated without a surgery but the surgery depends on their age, size, severity of joint looseness, degree of osteoarthritis and intended function. There are a number of anti-inflammatory medications that can reduce the swelling and tenderness. Pain medications such as aspirin, carprofen and corticosteroids are best options for reducing pain.

Physiotherapy decreases joint stiffness and maintain muscle integrity. Swimming is an excellent form of physical therapy, which encourages the muscle activity without increasing the severity of joint injury.

Weight control is an important aspect of recovery and it decreases the pressure, which is applied to the painful joint, when the dog moves. Dogs that are over weighted, may be ineligible for surgical treatment; the healthier weight treatment treats the other diseases quickly. Regular and compactable exercise at their young age may control their weight.

In few cases, dog’s hip tends to be worse during cold or damp weather: Cater them in warm and comfortable places for relaxation at night. Keep them in ramp instead of stairs, when they sleep and it can slow the progression of condition.

Oral supplements are also available, that makes our dog more comfortable and they are glucosamine, chondroitin, omega 3-fatty acids, perna mussels, Avocado- soybean extracts, S- adenosyl, duralactin and Methyl-sulfonyl-methan.

Preventing Hip Dysplasia

Selective breeding is the only way of preventing the dog from hip dysplasia, but it is crucial in reducing the probability of hip dysplasia. But there are many steps to be taken to help the dogs. Provide proper nutrition and high-quality dog foods without requiring excessive amounts per serving. During their rapid bone growth stage, discourage young puppies jumping from heights or standing on their hind legs. And significantly proper weight management is critical. Check their bloodline to make sure whether they are free from hip dysplasia or not .


Hip dysplasia is a wide spread condition, that affects large giant breeds of dogs. If you suspect your dog has hip dysplasia, seek advice from your vet immediately to minimize the arthritic changes that will worsen the problem. Calcium levels are extremely important and puppies that are on commercial diet should never receive additional amount of calcium, so you can ask your vet or healthy care team for a nutrition plan.

Majority of dogs with hip dysplasia are able to live an active life when their condition is managed effectively. If the owners take an appropriate steps and treatment plans, then their dag will lead a happy life even if they suffer from hip dysplasia.

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