Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

If you have a German shepherd dog, you’ve likely heard of hip dysplasia, because this orthopedic condition commonly causes significant pain and lameness in the breed. Although large-breed dogs develop hip dysplasia more often than others, any pet can develop hip dysplasia. If you own a medium- or large-breed dog, read our Woodinville Veterinary Hospital & Urgent Care Services team’s important hip dysplasia facts, and learn how you can recognize and help manage this condition.

What is hip dysplasia in dogs?
Abnormal hip joint development causes hip dysplasia. The hip joint is a ball-and-socket joint, which allows for smooth movement. During a puppy’s growth, the femoral head (i.e., ball) and acetabulum (i.e., socket) fail to develop a proper fit, causing the bones within the joint to grind and rub against each other, rather than glide smoothly.

Because the bones fail to fit together correctly, this hip joint abnormality leads to instability or a loose fit (i.e., laxity). Over time, the bones within the joint become deformed and rough, while the cartilage progressively deteriorates and scar tissue forms around the ball and socket. These changes result in hip pain and impaired mobility. 

Are certain dog breeds more likely to get hip dysplasia?

While any dog can develop hip dysplasia, larger breeds are prone to this condition. Hip dysplasia most commonly affects these breeds:

  • German shepherd dogs
  • Labrador retrievers
  • Golden retrievers
  • Rottweilers
  • Bernese mountain dogs
  • Newfoundlands

Hip dysplasia tends to be worse in puppies who grow too quickly, either because of genetics or diet, and dogs who were overexercised when they were young. Before you purchase one of these breeds as a puppy, discuss health testing and certifications with the breeder. An ethical breeder will put their breeding dogs through testing to ensure they are free from orthopedic issues such as hip dysplasia.

What are hip dysplasia signs in dogs?

Hip dysplasia signs can vary greatly, depending on the amount of laxity within the joint and the condition’s severity. Dogs with mild hip dysplasia typically don’t show signs until they are much older and have developed hip arthritis. Dogs with severe hip dysplasia can display issues as young as 5 or 6 months of age. A classic canine hip dysplasia sign is a bunny-hopping gait. Affected dogs tend to run with both back legs moving in tandem, rather than separately. If your dog has hip dysplasia, they may exhibit these signs:

  • Limping
  • Lameness
  • Stiff joints
  • Difficulty rising or settling to lie down
  • Painful hips
  • Hind end muscle mass loss 
  • A swaying gait
  • Difficulty using stairs
  • Reluctance to jump on furniture or into the car

How is hip dysplasia diagnosed in dogs?

During your pet’s routine physical exam, our Woodinville Veterinary Hospital & Urgent Care Services team may gather enough evidence to suspect hip dysplasia, especially if you report observing this condition’s signs at home. Our team will perform a thorough orthopedic exam to evaluate your dog’s hips for grinding, pain, joint laxity, or reduced range of motion.

In most cases, we must sedate your dog to perform a complete orthopedic evaluation and take hip X-rays. Hip dysplasia typically causes some pain, so sedation consisting of a tranquilizer and pain relief helps eliminate the discomfort a dog may feel when we manipulate their painful joints. Specially positioned hip X-rays are necessary for us to determine the degree and severity of your dog’s hip dysplasia. A thorough orthopedic evaluation and X-rays will help us determine your dog’s most effective treatment option.

How is hip dysplasia treated in dogs?

Treatment for a dog’s hip dysplasia ranges from lifestyle changes to advanced surgery. We will determine your dog’s treatment plan based on their condition’s severity, their overall health status, and your financial constraints.

If your dog has mild hip dysplasia, or surgery is not a good option for any reason, medical management is the best route. Nonsurgical treatment for hip dysplasia may include:

  • Weight control — One of the most effective and least expensive therapies for pets with hip dysplasia is weight control. Maintaining a lean body condition is critical for minimizing stress and pressure on painful, unstable hip joints.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications — Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and corticosteroids can reduce painful inflammation in affected hips, restoring comfort and mobility. 
  • Exercise restriction — To minimize your dog’s pain, you must ensure they avoid intense exercise on hard surfaces, jumping, and sudden twists and turns.  
  • Alternative therapies — Therapeutic exercises, hydrotherapy, acupuncture, laser therapy, and various otherSet featured image alternative therapies can be an excellent part of a multimodal treatment plan aimed at improving your pet’s mobility and comfort.
  • Joint supplements and protectants — Glucosamine, chondroitin, omega-3 fatty acids, and polysulfated glycosaminoglycan can be beneficial in preserving joint cartilage and improving joint fluid.

If our team and you decide surgery would be your dog’s most effective treatment option, we will determine the best surgical approach. We determine the most effective surgical procedure based on your pet’s age, weight, and hip dysplasia severity. Numerous hip dysplasia surgical options include:

  • Juvenile pubic symphysiodesis (JPS)
  • Double or triple pelvic osteotomy (DPO/TPO)
  • Femoral head ostectomy (FHO)
  • Total hip replacement (THR)

Your puppy can develop hip dysplasia early in life, so regular wellness exams are essential to monitor their orthopedic growth and development. Schedule your puppy’s orthopedic examination with our Woodinville Veterinary Hospital & Urgent Care Services team.

By |2024-02-15T00:00:10+00:00July 7th, 2023|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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