Hip Dysplasia in Dogs: Signs and Treatment Options

Hip dysplasia is a term you might have heard among dog owners, especially those with larger breeds. It’s a condition that affects a dog’s hip joints, making movements painful and limiting their zest for life. Recognizing the signs early and seeking the proper treatment can make a difference. This guide, brought to you by Fetch Specialty & Emergency Centers, aims to shed light on this condition and how to manage it.




Understanding Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia occurs when a dog’s hip joint doesn’t fit correctly into the hip socket. This misfit can cause wear and tear, leading to discomfort and pain. While genetics play a role, factors like rapid growth, weight, and specific activities can also contribute. It’s essential to understand that any dog, regardless of age or breed, can be affected.

Signs and Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia

If your dog is showing any of these signs, it might be time for a check-up:

  • Difficulty or hesitation when rising, jumping, or climbing stairs
  • Stiff back legs when walking or running
  • Loss of muscling in the hind legs
  • Grinding in the hip joints when walking
  • Decrease in the range of motion of the back legs

Diagnosing Hip Dysplasia

If you suspect your dog might have hip dysplasia, it’s crucial to consult a veterinarian. A complete orthopedic and neurologic examination should be performed along with taking X-rays to confirm suspicions. Remember, an early diagnosis can lead to better management and treatment outcomes.

Treatment Options for Hip Dysplasia

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to treating hip dysplasia. Options range from:

  • Medical Treatments: Including anti-inflammatory and pain-relief medications, joint supplements, physical therapy, and acupuncture.
  • Surgical Treatments: Procedures like an FHO (femoral head ostectomy- removing the head- or “ball”-of the leg bone that connects to the hip- or “socket”) or a total hip replacement might be recommended for severe cases. In some cases, young dogs (<10 months of age) can undergo a procedure known as the double or triple pelvic osteotomy (DPO/TPO) to change the shape of the pelvis and improve the fit of the ball within the socket of the hip joint.

Managing Hip Dysplasia and Improving Quality of Life

Living with hip dysplasia doesn’t mean your dog can’t enjoy life. Simple changes can make a big difference:

  • Weight Management: Keeping your dog at a healthy weight reduces stress on the joints.
  • Physical Therapy: Helps strengthen muscles and improve joint mobility.
  • Joint Supplements: Ingredients like glucosamine can support joint health.

Preventing Hip Dysplasia

While you can’t change genetics, specific measures can reduce the risk of hip dysplasia:

  • Balanced Growth: Ensure puppies, especially of larger breeds, are fed appropriate diets so they don’t grow too quickly.
  • Regular Check-ups: Early detection can lead to better outcomes.
  • Stay Informed: If you’re considering getting a puppy, research the breed and ask about hip scores or any genetic testing done.

Hip dysplasia can be challenging, but your dog can lead a happy, active life with the proper knowledge and care. Always trust your instincts and consult professionals like those at Fetch Specialty & Emergency Centers for guidance.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Q: Can a dog have hip dysplasia without showing any lameness or symptoms?

A: Yes, some dogs might not show apparent signs initially, but over time, as the condition progresses, symptoms can become more evident.


Q: Are specific dog breeds more susceptible to hip dysplasia than others?

A: Larger breeds like German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and Labradors are more prone, but any dog can be affected.


Q: What are the non-surgical treatment options for hip dysplasia in dogs?

A: Non-surgical options include pain-relief and anti-inflammatory medications, joint supplements, weight management, acupuncture, and physical therapy.


Q: If left untreated, how long can a dog live with hip dysplasia?

A: With proper management, a dog with hip dysplasia can live an average lifespan. However, untreated, the condition can lead to severe arthritis, pain,  and reduced quality of life.

About Us

Fetch Specialty & Emergency Veterinary Centers is a family-owned practice providing elevated specialty care, emergency medicine, and critical care in three convenient locations throughout Florida and South Carolina. Our board-certified veterinarians and highly skilled support staff all share a deep appreciation for pets, people, and the human-animal bond. We recognize how much you love your pet as a part of your family, and that’s why we love what we do!