Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Perhaps you have heard of hip dysplasia in dogs, but don’t really know what it is all about. This article is designed to give you an overview of dog hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia in dog can cause a lot of discomfort, and can cripple a dog that was once vibrant. A genetic condition, hip dysplasia cause the joint to become extremely loose. Through years of use, the joint can become deteriorated. At its worst, the joint can no longer function. Hip dysplasia is commonly found in large breeds such as Labradors, German Shepherds and Great Danes, but smaller dogs can get it too.


Should you find out your dog’s breed is predisposed to hip dysplasia, it is important to watch for early symptoms. There are certain factors that can contribute to hip dysplasia progressing in a dog that is genetically inclined to have it. The dog’s weight becomes a primary factor. If the dog either gains a lot of weight too quickly, or is overweight for an extended period of time can be a problem. Keeping your dog at his ideal weight is key. Some people assume that hip dysplasia only happens in older dogs, however this is not true. Dogs as young as 4 months old can develop hip dysplasia.

What to Look For

If it appears that it is difficult for your dog to move about, this can be a sign of hip dysplasia. Does your dog have a difficult time getting up from a laying position? Or perhaps he winces when he runs, or has a hard time climbing the stairs. He may even try to avoid doing these things altogether. Your dog may compensate for the pain on one side, by putting all their weight on the other side.


Weight management becomes a primary goal in improving your dog’s ability to move. Physical therapy, and even surgery may be presented by your veterinarian as an option. Specifically in dogs that are younger, surgery may be performed to help rotate the hip joint into a more ideal position. The joint may also be fused with the dog’s pelvis to provide stability to the joint. Older dogs may have surgery to receive a hip replacement. Typically, physical therapy is the road taken, in order to reduce joint stiffness and maintain a healthy range of motion. The dog should be kept as active as possible, without having them be in too much pain. Swimming is an ideal activity for dogs that have hip dysplasia. Swimming offers a complete workout for the dog, without putting stress on the dog’s joints. If you suspect your dog has hip dysplasia, discuss these options with your veterinarian.