Hip dysplasia commonly affects canine hip joints, especially those of large-breed dogs, resulting in pain, discomfort, and reduced mobility. Understanding this skeletal condition can help you ensure your dog remains comfortable and active. Read our Family Veterinary Care of Oakdale team’s guide to learn about this disorder’s causes and signs, your pup’s treatment options, and how you can help reduce their hip dysplasia risk. 

What is hip dysplasia in dogs?

Although any dog can develop hip dysplasia, the condition is a common skeletal disorder that primarily affects large- and giant-breed dogs. The condition causes abnormal hip development, resulting in an improper fit between the joint’s ball and socket. Over time, this misalignment leads to joint deterioration, resulting in pain and reduced mobility.

What causes hip dysplasia in dogs?

Canine hip dysplasia can develop as a result of many influences. However, the disorder may be the result of one or more of these factors:

  • Genetics — Hip dysplasia can be genetic, appearing more often in certain breeds such as Great Danes, Saint Bernards, Labrador retrievers, and German shepherd dogs. A pup whose parents had hip dysplasia is genetically predisposed to inheriting the condition.
  • Growth rate — Rapid growth during the puppy stage can put stress on the developing joints, increasing a dog’s hip dysplasia risk. An overabundance of food and improper nutrition can exacerbate this risk.
  • Weight — Excessive weight places additional strain on the hips, increasing hip dysplasia’s likelihood. Obesity can worsen the condition, leading to more severe symptoms.

What are hip dysplasia signs in dogs?

Being able to recognize hip dysplasia’s signs is essential for early detection and intervention. Common hip dysplasia signs include:

  • Difficulty rising or limping — A dog with hip dysplasia may struggle to get up, or might walk with a limp, which worsens after resting or exercising.
  • Decreased activity — If your once-energetic dog becomes less active or avoids physical activities they once enjoyed, they may be experiencing joint pain caused by hip dysplasia.
  • Stiffness and pain — Dogs with hip dysplasia may exhibit stiffness in their hind legs and show pain signs when their hips are touched or manipulated.
  • Bunny hopping — Rather than using both hind legs simultaneously while running, dogs with hip dysplasia may engage in a hopping motion.

How is hip dysplasia treated in dogs?

If you suspect your dog has hip dysplasia, contact our Family Veterinary Care of Oakdale team so we can perform your pup’s thorough examination. To diagnose this disorder, our team typically does a physical examination, takes X-rays and in some cases, additional advanced images, and performs joint palpation techniques. Once we definitively diagnose that your canine companion has hip dysplasia, our team may recommend the following treatment options:

  • Weight management — Maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for dogs with hip dysplasia. Weight reduction can alleviate joint strain, relieve pain, and slow the condition’s progression.
  • Medications — Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help manage your pooch’s hip dysplasia pain and inflammation. However, you should only administer these medications to your dog under veterinary supervision.
  • Physical therapy and exercise — Controlled exercise and physical therapy can strengthen the damaged joint’s surrounding muscles, improve range of motion, and provide pain relief. Our team can tailor an exercise plan to your pet’s unique needs. 
  • Surgery — In severe dysplasia cases, surgical procedures, such as total hip replacement, femoral head ostectomy, or joint denervation, may be necessary to restore joint function and relieve pain.

Can hip dysplasia be prevented in dogs?

While hip dysplasia cannot be completely prevented, especially if your dog is genetically predisposed to the condition, you can manage their signs effectively and take precautions to reduce their likelihood of developing the disorder. To support your dog’s joint health, follow these lifestyle and environmental strategies: 

  • Keep your dog at a healthy weight — Obesity exacerbates hip dysplasia and can accelerate joint deterioration. Feed your dog a balanced diet and engage them in regular exercise to maintain their healthy weight.
  • Administer joint supplements — We commonly recommend joint supplements that contain glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate to reduce inflammation and pain, improve joint function, and slow damage progression. Supplements can also help preserve health in undamaged joints.
  • Exercise your pet —  Regular exercise can help strengthen the muscles surrounding your dog’s hip joints. 
  • Provide a comfortable living environment — Provide your canine companion with a comfortable and supportive sleeping area, such as an orthopedic dog bed, and prevent them from performing activities that excessively strain their hips, such as jumping or running on hard surfaces.

By understanding hip dysplasia’ causes, signs, and treatment options, you can help ensure that your dog enjoys a comfortable quality of life. Early detection and proactive management are key to mitigating this disorder’s impact. Contact our Family Veterinary Care of Oakdale team to screen your large-breed puppy for hip dysplasia, or to treat and manage your dog’s condition.