Understanding Hip Dysplasia in Dogs Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

September 01, 2023 in Dog

If you notice your dog limping, avoiding stairs, or having trouble getting up, you may be looking at symptoms of hip dysplasia. This congenital skeletal condition is most often diagnosed in larger dogs like Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds but can also affect smaller dogs. Though hip dysplasia is a serious condition that may require surgery, signs of hip dysplasia in dogs are easily detectable, and the disorder is treatable. Frequently, it can be avoided by a healthy diet, engaging in regular exercise, and taking appropriate supplements. Here is everything you need to know.

Understanding Hip Dysplasia in Dogs Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

What is hip dysplasia?

One of the five most common types of genetic disorders for dogs, hip dysplasia, is often the result of overbreeding, where an animal is excessively bred without attention to breeding quality.

The hip joint comprises a socket in the dog's pelvis and a femoral head at the upper part of the dog's hind leg, where they are connected. The head fits in the socket in a ball and socket joint and should rotate smoothly. Nevertheless, in cases where a dog suffers from hip dysplasia, the ball and socket of its hip joint develop improperly, causing them to grind against each other. This often leads to escalating pain and debilitation for the animal.

What are early signs of hip dysplasia in dogs?

To decide whether your dog might be suffering from hip dysplasia, look for symptoms like these:

  • Reluctance to get up from the floor or climb stairs

  • Wobbling, swaying, or hopping when moving

  • Signs of pain like wincing or whining

  • Stiffness or limping

  • Increased muscle mass in shoulders to compensate for weakness in hips

When you take your dog to the vet to test for hip dysplasia, the vet will ask you about your dog's symptoms and then examine your dog, gently manipulating your dog's legs to test for pain and gauge range of motion. Depending on the situation, they may order a blood test or X-rays to understand the severity of the condition.

How to prevent hip dysplasia in dogs

If your dog is not yet showing signs of hip dysplasia, you can immediately prevent it. Maintaining your dog's weight is an important part of prevention. Suppose your dog is a breed at risk for the disorder. In that case, you can also talk to your vet about giving your dog glucosamine chondroitin supplements, which can help maintain or replenish damaged cartilage around the hip areas.

You can also take action to protect your dog from diseases like hip dysphasia with a lifetime wellness plan. These plans, offered through many veterinary offices, allow you to make an interest-free monthly payment. In return, you gain access to diagnostic tests for your pet and, often, unlimited office visits. You can select from various plans and coverage, and with the assistance of your vet, you can anticipate and take measures to prevent issues like hip dysplasia. This way, you can eagerly anticipate many years of pain-free playtime with your dog.

What are treatments for hip dysplasia in dogs?

If your dog is diagnosed with hip dysplasia, your vet will work with you to determine the severity of the problem. If the dysplasia is not severe, the vet may recommend simple changes like a prescription diet to lower your dog's weight, increased exercise, a supplement like glucosamine chondroitin, and/or physical therapy.

If your dog is a candidate for surgery, several tested procedures are available, from minimally invasive surgery to total hip replacements. The type of surgery usually depends on the age of the dog and the severity of the condition. Your best bet is to talk to your vet about your options.

If you think your dog might have hip dysphasia already, and you live in the Northeast Florida or Orlando area, you can schedule an appointment at one of our clinics. Our expert, caring veterinarians will assess the extent of the condition and discuss options to extend the life and comfort of your beloved companion. Schedule an appointment today.