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Dog Hip Dysplasia Treatment and Facts

dog hip dysplasia treatment and facts petrage

Dogs are one of the most popular pets in the world, and for good reason. They’re loyal, friendly, and make great companions. But dogs are also prone to health problems, including hip dysplasia. This condition can cause a lot of pain for your dog, but there are treatment options available. Here’s what you need to know about hip dysplasia in dogs.

What is Hip Dysplasia in Dogs?

Hip dysplasia is a serious condition that affects dogs and can result in significant pain and discomfort. This hereditary disease primarily affects the hip socket joint, where the hind legs connect to the body. In a healthy dog, the bones in the hip joint fit together perfectly and are securely held in place by strong ligaments. However, dogs with hip dysplasia may have a malformed joint or weak muscles and ligaments, causing the bones to lose contact and separate. This separation, known as subluxation, can lead to the ball of the joint popping out of the socket. Over time, this can cause the cartilage and bone of the hip to wear down, resulting in arthritis, muscle atrophy, limited mobility, and joint looseness. The incidence of hip dysplasia varies among different breeds of dogs, with some breeds being more susceptible to the condition than others. In this article, we will explore the available treatments for hip dysplasia and provide a list of breeds and their susceptibility to this condition.

severe canine hip dysplasia
X-ray of severe canine hip dysplasia

What Causes Hip Dysplasia in Dogs?

The American Academy of Veterinary Medicine explains that canine hip dysplasia is a complex condition caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. The primary cause is genetics, with certain breeds, especially large breed dogs, being predisposed to the condition due to inherited genetic mutations. However, recent research has highlighted the significant role of nutrition in the development of hip dysplasia in young dogs. Studies have shown that dogs fed a diet high in calcium and/or calories during their growth period have an increased risk of developing hip dysplasia. This is likely because an excessively rich diet can lead to rapid bone growth, resulting in the formation of an abnormal hip joint in young dogs with dysplasia. It can also cause the muscles and ligaments supporting the hip joint to become weak and underdeveloped, contributing to the development of hip dysplasia. The head of the femur, which is seated deeply within the acetabulum, indicates excellent hip joint congruity in a normal dog’s pelvis and hips.

This disease may affect any dog, but it is most common in large and giant dogs. Some of the breeds most prone to hip dysplasia include the GSD, Golden Retriever, and Great Dane. Certain breeds, such as Greyhounds and Russian Wolfhounds, have a lower risk of hip dysplasia. Although there is no guarantee that dogs whose parents have hip dysplasia will develop this disease, the chances are much higher. If there is no carrier of this disease in the dog’s bloodline, then his risk of developing Dysplasia will be greatly reduced. This is a major reason to get a puppy from a reputable breeder who will thoroughly check for congenital diseases (such as hip dysplasia) among others. Although genetics is the main factor in determining the risk of hip dysplasia in dogs, adequate nutrition can affect the likelihood of high-risk dogs developing this disease. Dogs who are genetically susceptible to hip dysplasia also have a greater chance of developing dysplasia if they exercise excessively at an early age. Factors such as excessive growth rate, types of exercise, improper weight, and unbalanced nutrition can magnify this genetic predisposition. Heavy exercise is another risk factor in puppies. Large breed dogs, like Saint Bernards, are particularly susceptible to hip dysplasia due to their genetics and size.

What are the Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs?

If your dog is unwilling to lift from a sitting or lying position, it may be the first clue that he/she has hip dysplasia. This phenomenon can be seen in puppies that are only a few months old, but is most common in dogs at around 2 years old.

In older dogs, symptoms of hip dysplasia are usually associated with the development of intra-articular osteoarthritis. In addition to the physical signs shown in puppies, elderly dogs with hip dysplasia have reduced hip range of motion and look very stiff when trying to get up and move around.

If your dog shows signs of hip dysplasia, it will look similar to the signs of arthritis-joint pain with difficulty in moving and stiffness throughout the body. It can occur in one or both hip joints. You may notice any of the following:

  • Lameness: Dogs with hip dysplasia may have difficulty standing or walking, and may appear to be limping or favoring one leg. They may also have difficulty rising from a sitting or lying position.
  • Pain: Dogs with hip dysplasia may show signs of pain or discomfort in the hip area, such as whining or whimpering, reluctance to move, or sensitivity to touch.
  • Stiffness: Dogs with hip dysplasia may seem stiff or have limited range of motion in the hip joint.
  • Atrophy: Dogs with hip dysplasia may develop muscle atrophy (wasting) in the affected leg(s), as they may not use it as often as they should
  • Clicking Sound: dogs with hip dysplasia may have an audible clicking or popping sound coming from the hip joint when they move

Generally, dogs are very good at hiding/holding pain so being observant of any changes in your dogs ability to maintain their normal level of activity should be noted.

hip dysplasia old dog

What are the Treatments for Hip Dysplasia in Dogs?

Non-Surgical Treatments

While there is no cure for hip dysplasia without surgery, several treatment options can alleviate its symptoms. Here are some non-surgical approaches:

  • Weight Management: Watching your dog’s weight is crucial, as excess weight exacerbates the pain associated with hip dysplasia. A low-calorie diet can help your dog maintain an ideal weight.
  • Controlled Exercise: Leash walking on soft surfaces and using treadmills can be effective. However, it’s essential to follow your dog’s pace and avoid pushing them too hard.
  • Comfortable Sleeping Area: Making your dog’s sleeping area warmer and more comfortable, using orthopedic beds, can help reduce discomfort.
  • Limiting Stress on Joints: Preventing your dog from jumping off furniture or going up and down stairs can help minimize strain on their hip joints.
  • Supplements: Certain supplements, such as glucosamine and chondroitin, have been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms related to hip dysplasia and arthritis pain in dogs. You can read more about medications for degenerative arthritis in dogs at the Veterinary Partner.
dysplasic comfortable bed

Surgical Treatments

In cases of chronic hip dysplasia and degenerative joint disease, surgical treatments may be necessary. Total hip replacement is considered the best surgical option for these cases. Additionally, a triple pelvic osteotomy (TPO) is a surgical procedure often used for dogs younger than 10 months old without signs of hip dysplasia or degeneration. It involves breaking and realigning the pelvic bones to correct the condition. This type of surgery is expensive, but it can be very effective. A newer, less invasive option is “Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis,” which involves fusing the hip bone to allow normal development. Another surgical option for dogs with hip dysplasia is femoral head ostectomy, in which the head and neck of the femur are removed and scar tissue forms to create a “false joint.” Other less common surgical procedures used to treat hip dysplasia include triple pelvic osteotomy (TPO), juvenile pubic symphysiodesis, and arthroplasty. Read more about the surgical treatments for canine hip dysplasia at the Veterinary Orthopedic Center.

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Which Breeds are More Likely to Develop Hip Dysplasia?

The following list comes from data compiled by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals OFA.org – history of dog breeds with canine hip dysplasia from 1974-2019.

BreedRank #Evaluations #Excellent %Dysplastic %
AFFENPINSCHER494365.018.8
AFGHAN HOUND1557,37330.25.8
AIREDALE TERRIER1056,7577.411.6
AKBASH DOG11158323.311.0
AKITA8617,76519.513.5
ALASKAN MALAMUTE10115,19617.311.9
AMERICAN BULLDOG192,2634.735.6
AMERICAN BULLY131345.239.6
AMERICAN ESKIMO DOG1231,1979.99.4
AMERICAN PIT BULL TERRIER319736.622.8
AMERICAN STAFFORDSHIRE TERRIER243,6902.826.4
AMERICAN WATER SPANIEL13287611.58.0
ANATOLIAN SHEPHERD1182,44818.49.9
AUSTRALIAN CATTLE DOG624,8095.316.7
AUSTRALIAN KELPIE1301619.38.1
AUSTRALIAN LABRADOODLE797919.914.3
AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD14940,76417.46.1
AUSTRALIAN TERRIER1712046.43.9
BARBET8722213.113.5
BASENJI1753,23723.63.4
BASSET HOUND14234.039.3
BEAGLE551,2102.817.8
BEARDED COLLIE1475,01017.56.2
BEAUCERON10665418.711.6
BELGIAN LAEKENOIS15913516.35.2
BELGIAN MALINOIS1584,09220.75.3
BELGIAN SHEEPDOG1784,64333.03.1
BELGIAN TERVUREN1766,95126.93.4
BERGER PICARD573479.217.3
BERNESE MOUNTAIN DOG6824,25214.816.3
BICHON FRISE1344,38212.07.7
BLACK AND TAN COONHOUND7782210.815.1
BLACK RUSSIAN TERRIER109475.240.8
BLOODHOUND253,2992.926.3
BOERBOEL113157.340.0
BORDER COLLIE11315,58014.710.5
BORDER TERRIER1723,46521.43.8
BORZOI18590230.72.0
BOSTON TERRIER1073959.611.6
BOUVIER DES FLANDRES759,2326.815.5
BOXER956,5523.812.3
BOYKIN SPANIEL224,7894.029.1
BRACCO ITALIANO9413731.412.4
BRIARD822,84113.414.0
BRITTANY8021,2399.914.2
BRUSSELS GRIFFON6145.751.0
BULL TERRIER13511910.97.6
BULLDOG21,074.370.5
BULLMASTIFF276,6694.025.7
CAIRN TERRIER1161475.410.2
CANAAN18154617.02.6
CANE CORSO181,8118.137.3
CARDIGAN WELSH CORGI322,8973.322.2
CAVALIER KING CHARLES SPANIEL788,9414.214.3
CENTRAL ASIAN SHEPHERD3411011.821.8
CHESAPEAKE BAY RETRIEVER4514,91913.719.8
CHINESE CRESTED19410733.6.0
CHINESE SHAR-PEI6910,6059.215.9
CHINOOK6095910.917.0
CHOW CHOW365,9607.721.2
CLUMBER SPANIEL91,1883.743.3
COCKER SPANIEL14115,17311.36.8
COLLIE1803,55632.02.9
COTON DE TULEAR1191,1149.09.5
CURLY-COATED RETRIEVER711,3258.915.7
DACHSHUND15018217.06.0
DALMATIAN1674,37512.44.3
DOBERMAN PINSCHER14518,68518.46.5
DOGO ARGENTINO162853.537.9
DOGUE DE BORDEAUX47161.158.2
DUTCH SHEPHERD12950913.88.3
ENGLISH COCKER SPANIEL1548,09919.55.8
ENGLISH SETTER7012,06811.315.8
ENGLISH SHEPHERD3568910.421.6
ENGLISH SPRINGER SPANIEL9117,7909.812.8
ENTLEBUCHER644675.816.5
EPAGNEUL BRETON562997.017.4
EURASIER17719231.83.1
FIELD SPANIEL581,33410.317.2
FILA BRASILEIRO177346.337.9
FINNISH LAPPHUND1243449.39.3
FINNISH SPITZ14634316.96.4
FLAT-COATED RETRIEVER1696,67721.74.0
FRENCH BULLDOG212,3472.630.8
FRENCH SPANIEL12124419.39.4
GERMAN PINSCHER19053819.11.5
GERMAN SHEPHERD DOG40128,6454.420.5
GERMAN SHORTHAIRED POINTER17019,32727.43.9
GERMAN WIREHAIRED POINTER1254,92717.59.0
GIANT SCHNAUZER525,00710.718.1
GLEN OF IMAAL TERRIER23293.726.6
GOLDEN RETRIEVER44160,8274.919.8
GORDON SETTER486,7029.619.1
GREAT DANE9015,93112.112.8
GREAT PYRENEES1206,71814.79.5
GREATER SWISS MOUNTAIN DOG533,77115.218.0
GREYHOUND18337935.62.4
HARRIER763698.115.4
HAVANA SILK DOG652201.416.4
HAVANESE1225,36510.49.4
HOVAWART15123426.96.0
HYBRID503,98610.018.7
IBIZAN HOUND18649935.31.8
ICELANDIC SHEEPDOG5471413.417.8
IRISH RED & WHITE SETTER16643533.14.4
IRISH SETTER9912,5409.812.0
IRISH WATER SPANIEL1041,59118.911.8
IRISH WOLFHOUND1622,42126.74.7
ITALIAN GREYHOUND19336753.1.0
KEESHOND1445,5029.56.6
KERRY BLUE TERRIER1571,74113.25.7
KOMONDOR891,05912.213.0
KUVASZ511,95015.718.6
LABRADOR RETRIEVER100277,64719.511.9
LAGOTTO ROMAGNOLO304908.022.9
LARGE MUNSTERLANDER11711919.310.1
LEONBERGER812,49720.714.1
LHASA APSO14285714.86.8
LLEWELLIN SETTER381017.920.8
LOUISIANA CATAHOULA LEOPARD4677713.919.2
LOWCHEN17413916.53.6
MAINE COON CAT281,2914.425.2
MALTESE1121323.010.6
MAREMMA SHEEPDOG6113810.916.7
MASTIFF3912,7458.120.7
MINI AMERICAN/MINI AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD1433,63420.16.7
MINIATURE PINSCHER19114038.61.4
MINIATURE SCHNAUZER18912217.21.6
MUDI16511127.04.5
MUNSTERLANDER9326020.412.7
NEAPOLITAN MASTIFF52263.151.8
NEDERLANDSE KOOIKERHONDJE16112426.64.8
NEWFOUNDLAND2617,9649.125.8
NORFOLK TERRIER20376.334.8
NORTH AMERICAN SHEPHERD15234016.55.9
NORWEGIAN BUHUND12629111.38.6
NORWEGIAN ELKHOUND434,2967.920.1
NORWICH TERRIER831,4206.313.7
NOVA SCOTIA DUCK TOLLING RET.1532,90220.05.8
OLD ENGLISH SHEEPDOG4711,78912.419.2
OLDE ENGLISH BULLDOGGE31431.465.7
OTTERHOUND85281.748.7
PARSON RUSSELL TERRIER16812223.84.1
PEMBROKE WELSH CORGI4213,8963.220.2
PERRO DE PRESA CANARIO152603.838.8
PETIT BASSET GRIFFON VENDEEN988104.112.0
PHARAOH HOUND18258415.42.6
POINTER1371,99615.27.3
POLISH LOWLAND SHEEPDOG636349.916.7
POMERANIAN671847.616.3
POODLE10231,13812.611.9
PORTUGUESE PODENGO PEQUENO18717132.71.8
PORTUGUESE WATER DOG9210,12915.312.8
PUDELPOINTER10365116.011.8
PUG1861.171.7
PULI1141,88517.210.5
PUMI13318016.77.8
PYRENEAN SHEPHERD732166.915.7
RAT TERRIER17967016.73.0
RHODESIAN RIDGEBACK16413,80023.94.6
ROTTWEILER37102,2728.521.2
SALUKI18828941.51.7
SAMOYED10918,17411.411.2
SCHIPPERKE1385389.17.1
SHETLAND SHEEPDOG16324,14627.74.7
SHIBA INU1394,11318.76.9
SHIH TZU338412.022.1
SHILOH SHEPHERD411,3158.920.2
SIBERIAN HUSKY18420,17434.32.2
SMALL MUNSTERLANDER13625619.97.4
SMOOTH FOX TERRIER844867.813.6
SOFT COATED WHEATEN TERRIER1607,05517.65.1
SPANISH WATER DOG292589.725.2
SPINONE ITALIANO741,60918.815.5
ST. BERNARD72,5464.149.2
STABYHOUN881738.713.3
STAFFORDSHIRE BULL TERRIER728753.215.7
STANDARD SCHNAUZER1284,9338.98.4
SUSSEX SPANIEL123251.539.7
SWEDISH VALLHUND1103935.311.2
TIBETAN MASTIFF661,1928.116.4
TIBETAN SPANIEL973906.212.1
TIBETAN TERRIER1564,57131.35.8
TOY AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD17321625.53.7
VIZSLA14017,08917.96.8
WEIMARANER12713,55221.98.6
WELSH SPRINGER SPANIEL1082,57417.411.3
WELSH TERRIER851476.813.6
WEST HIGHLAND WHITE TERRIER966084.112.2
WHIPPET19220436.81.0
WHITE SHEPHERD5917412.617.2
WIREHAIRED POINTING GRIFFON1312,86522.18.1
WIREHAIRED VIZSLA11524010.810.4
YORKSHIRE TERRIER14821026.76.2

Source:OFA.org – history of dog breeds with canine hip dysplasia from 1974-2019.

Understanding hip dysplasia in dogs is crucial for their well-being. This condition, primarily caused by genetics and influenced by nutrition, can cause significant pain and discomfort. Recognizing the symptoms and seeking appropriate medical management is essential for improving your dog’s quality of life and maintaining their mobility. Whether through non-surgical methods or surgical intervention, various options exist to alleviate the symptoms of hip dysplasia, including radiographs. Remember to consult with your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and tailored treatment plan for your pup. By staying informed and proactive, you can help your beloved dog live a happier, healthier life, despite this common condition.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  1. What is dog hip dysplasia?
    faq logo page

    Dog hip dysplasia is a hereditary condition that affects the hip joint, causing pain and discomfort. In dogs with hip dysplasia, the hip joint may be malformed or the muscles and ligaments supporting it may be weak. This can lead to the bones losing contact and separating, resulting in subluxation or the ball of the joint popping out of the socket.

  2. What are the symptoms of hip dysplasia in dogs?
    faq logo page

    Common symptoms of hip dysplasia in dogs include lameness (difficulty standing, walking, or rising), pain or discomfort in the hip area, stiffness or limited range of motion in the hip joint, muscle atrophy in the affected leg(s), and an audible clicking or popping sound from the hip joint during movement.

  3. Which breeds are more likely to develop hip dysplasia?
    faq logo page

    Large and giant breeds are more prone to hip dysplasia. Some of the breeds with higher susceptibility include German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and Great Danes. However, it can occur in any dog breed.

  4. Can hip dysplasia be prevented or cured?
    faq logo page

    Hip dysplasia cannot be prevented entirely, as it is primarily a genetic condition. However, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk and alleviate symptoms. Maintaining a healthy weight through proper diet and exercise, providing a comfortable sleeping area, limiting stress on the joints, and using supplements recommended by your veterinarian can help manage the condition. In severe cases, surgical treatments like total hip replacement may be necessary.

  5. How is hip dysplasia diagnosed and treated?
    faq logo page

    If you suspect your dog has hip dysplasia, it is essential to consult with a veterinarian. They will perform a physical examination and may recommend diagnostic tests such as X-rays to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment options include weight management, controlled exercise, providing a comfortable sleeping area, limiting stress on the joints, and using supplements. In severe cases, surgical interventions like total hip replacement or Triple Pelvic Incision (TPO) may be considered.

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