Browse our veterinary-reviewed Dog and Cat Illness Guide to learn more about pet health. Always talk to your veterinarian if you have a concern about your pet's symptoms or health.
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Canine Hip Dysplasia
Hip dysplasia is when the hip's ball and socket are not lined up properly. The hip joint gets damaged by continuous rubbing.
- Large-breed dogs are more prone to hip dysplasia
- Rapid weight gain or growth due to over-feeding and poor diet
- Repeated trauma (like too much high-impact jumping) can cause inflammation of the joint and lead to dysplasia.
- Reluctance to get up or jump
- Shifting weight to the front legs
- Loss of muscle mass on rear legs
- Pain when hips are manipulated
Signs may be more pronounced if the dog is overweight.
If you notice your dog has been constantly lame, go to your veterinarian for a check-up. Your veterinarian will perform the following:
- Physical examination: to check lameness and movement of the hips
- X-rays: to check how much the joint is displaced
With older dogs, your veterinarian will rule out other conditions before diagnosing hip dysplasia. Cancer, ligament problems, nerve pressure, etc., can all cause the same signs as hip dysplasia.
Veterinarians have several treatment options for hip dysplasia and will recommend one based on your dog's age and discomfort level.
Some options are:
- Medications (anti-inflammatory drugs)
- Injections to repair damaged joints
- Weight loss to relieve pressure from the joints
- Physical therapy
Most dogs do not need surgery for hip dysplasia. However, your veterinarian may recommend surgery, depending on your dog's medical history and characteristics. It can be very expensive, but the recovery rates are high.
If your dog has hip dysplasia but doesn't show any significant signs it may never need medical or surgical treatment. Often, all that is needed to reduce signs is to help your dog lose some weight and maintain good muscle tone (because the muscles support the hips). If you find your dog has signs after certain activities, simply avoid those activities.
There is a lower incidence of hip dysplasia in mixed breeds. If you are buying a dog from a breeder, only purchase from a breeder that has their dogs OFA certified free of hip dysplasia.
To eradicate hip dysplasia, do not breed a dog with hip dysplasia, and spay/neuter a dog afflicted with hip dysplasia.
With the general treatment options, some dogs may develop arthritis.
With surgery, there is a great prognosis for full recovery if it is done before the dog develops arthritis.
Medically Reviewed by Sara Ochoa, DVM