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Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia is a common condition in dogs where the hip joints are poorly formed. Each hip joint is shaped like a ball and socket; the ball is the top of the thigh bone (femur), the socket is where the femur fits into the pelvis. In a healthy dog, the ball forms a nice, tight fit within the socket and wear and tear is minimal. But in a dysplastic dog, the fit is loose and the ball moves around too much within the socket, creating abnormal wear and tear, pain and arthritis.

Which Dogs Are Affected?

Any breed of dog can be affected, but it is mostly seen in larger breeds. Symptoms can occur at any age, but commonly begin in dogs less than a year old.

What Are The Symptoms Of Hip Dysplasia?

Painful hip joints can cause many symptoms:

  • Decreased general activity levels
  • Difficulty getting up or lying down
  • Abnormal movements such as ‘bunny hopping’ when running and limping when walking
  • Reluctance to climb into cars or up stairs
  • Reluctance to jump up
  • Snapping or snarling when hip areas are touched

How Is It Diagnosed?

Your veterinarian will detect the disease through a combination of physical examination and x-rays.

Can I Prevent It?

The disease is largely hereditary, so breeders will often try to screen dogs for the disease by x-raying potential breeding stock before mating. If only dogs with healthy hips are bred, then hopefully the puppies produced will have a better chance of avoiding the disease.

How Do I Treat It?

Treatments can be classified as medical or surgical, and should be determined in close consultation with your veterinarian. Medical treatments include dietary supplements or pain-relieving medications. There are many different surgical procedures, with a total hip replacement commonly recommended for the most severe cases.

Additional Information

Veterinary Partner
The Pet Health Library: Canine Hip Dysplasia
Dr. Wendy C. Brooks, DVM, DipAVBP

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