Canine Hip Dysplasia

Canine hip dysplasia can be a very painful experience for your pup. Our San Diego vets discuss hip dysplasia in dogs, its causes, symptoms, and treatment options.

Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Your dog's hip joints work similarly to a ball and socket. If your pup is diagnosed with hip dysplasia, the ball and socket that make up their hip haven't developed properly and aren't functioning the way they are supposed to. Instead, the ball and socket grind and rub against each other, causing continued breakdown, pain, and eventual loss in the function of the affected hip.

Hip dysplasia is a condition most commonly seen in giant or large breed dogs, however smaller breeds can also suffer from this painful joint condition. Even though dogs are usually diagnosed with this issue when they are adults if the hip dysplasia is severe, it can be seen in puppies as young as four months old.

If hip dysplasia is left untreated it can drastically reduce your dog's quality of life, as the condition causes significant pain and reduces your dog's ability to move normally. 

Causes of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

In dogs, hip dysplasia is predominantly a hereditary condition, with genetics being the leading contributor to the development of the condition. Breeds that commonly suffer from hip dysplasia include large and giant dogs such as mastiffs, St. Bernards, Rottweilers, retrievers, and bulldogs, but several smaller breeds such as French bulldogs and pugs may also be susceptible.

If hip dysplasia is left untreated in the early stages, it will likely continue to worsen with age and affect both hips. Hip dysplasia may also be compounded by other painful conditions such as osteoarthritis in senior dogs.

Poor weight management and nutrition, accelerated growth rate, and some types of exercise can all play a role in the development of the condition. Obesity puts an abnormal amount of stress on your pup’s joints and may aggravate pre-existing hip dysplasia or even cause the condition.

Signs of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Each dog is different when it comes to the hip dysplasia symptoms they exhibit. The condition generally starts to develop when the puppy is about five months old, but it may not become apparent until your dog reaches their middle or senior years. The severity and the extent of the symptoms also depend on how serious the condition is and where it is in its progression. Pet parents should watch for the following symptoms as their pooch grows into adulthood:

  • Decreased range of motion
  • Pain while exercising
  • Stiffness when running or standing
  • Pawing at their teeth or mouth
  • Running with a 'bunny hop'
  • Lameness in the hind end
  • Back legs are stiff when walking
  • Loss of muscle tone in back legs or thighs

Treating Hip Dysplasia in Puppies & Dogs

Treatment options for hip dysplasia range based on the severity of your dog's condition. Your vet may simply recommend changes in lifestyle such as diet and exercise.

More severe cases of hip dysplasia may require your pup to undergo orthopedic surgery. There are a few options of surgical procedures including total hip replacement (THR) surgery, double or triple pelvic osteotomy (DPO/TPO), and femoral head ostectomy (FHO).

Your vet will be able to help you decide what the best surgical procedure is for your pet. 

Preventing Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Although hip dysplasia is largely a genetic condition inherited from previous generations, there are a few things that pet parents can do to help reduce the risk of their dog suffering from the debilitating effects of this condition. Your vet can advise you on how to implement the following measures specific to your dog:

  • Keep your dog at a healthy weight
  • Provide appropriate exercise
  • Provide a proper diet and supplements
  • Slow the growth of giant breed dogs

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your dog showing signs of hip dysplasia? Contact our San Diego vets to book an examination for your pup.