Hip Dysplasia in Dogs: What You Should Look Out For

Hip Dysplasia in Dogs: What You Should Look Out For

It’s important that anybody with a dog understands the early signs of hip dysplasia in dogs, as early intervention is always best and could help with reducing the need for surgery. In dogs, hip dysplasia results in loose joints, which can lead to osteoarthritis or degenerative joint diseases. In some cases, there are non-surgical measures that can be taken, such as physical therapy or weight loss, to prevent this condition from getting worse. 

Hip dysplasia is more likely to affect larger breed dogs as a result of excessive growth rate, genetic predisposition, obesity, inappropriate exercise and poor nutrition. While this condition can develop in any dog breed, some breeds are at higher risk, including Labrador Retrievers, Saint Bernards, Great Danes, German Shepherds, American Staffordshire Terriers, Mastiffs and Rottweilers. 

Can Dogs with Hip Dysplasia Live a Normal Life?

With the right treatments, dogs with canine hip dysplasia can and do live relatively normal lives. This disease is not fatal, and there are many things that you can do to increase your dog’s quality of life. If your dog has hip dysplasia, you may need to be prepared to administer them ongoing medications or put some restrictions on their exercise and activity for a while. Surgery might be necessary in the worst-case scenario. There is no cure for hip dysplasia in dogs; however, there are several treatment options that can be used to manage the condition, including various non-surgical options. 

What Causes Dogs to Get Hip Dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia in dogs occurs due to a loosening of the hip joint. The top part of the hip, known as the femoral joint, doesn’t fit into the socket snugly. This leads to excessive wear and tear of the bone. As the bone continues to wear down, this leads to more instability of the hip joints, which causes pain and mobility issues for the dog. Over time, this can lead to the dog developing conditions such as osteoarthritis. 

Too Much Exercise

In large-breed puppies, too much exercise can lead to hip dysplasia. This is because a growing puppy goes through several significant bodily changes in a short period of time. While getting an appropriate amount of exercise can help to strengthen their body, too much exercise will put unneeded strain on the bones and joints, which can increase the risk of future problems for the dog. 

Weight Gain

Each unnecessary pound of weight on a dog can lead to strain on the bones and joints. However, if your dog is overweight or obese and has been diagnosed with hip dysplasia, starting your dog on a big exercise program might make the condition worse, too. So, what can you do? A healthy diet that is formulated for dogs that have hip dysplasia is the best way to manage obesity and keep your dog’s weight healthy without lots of exercise. Your vet can provide you with further advice on when and how you should introduce more exercise into your dog’s routine. 

Early Signs of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Dogs with this condition often show some early signs and symptoms that are worth looking out for. Bear in mind that not every dog with hip dysplasia will display all, or any of these signs. 

Unusual Gait

Hip dysplasia means that the hip has been displaced. This leads to either the hips, ligaments or joints being aligned correctly. As a result of this, the dog will find a way to compensate for any pain and stiffness that this causes, which can lead to an unusual gait such as bunny hopping. 

Carrying Weight at the Front

When a dog is experiencing stiffness and pain in the hip, they will not want to put a lot of pressure on the affected area. Often, dogs with this condition will force their weight to the front which can lead to shoulders that become overdeveloped over time. 

Problems Jumping

It is not usually difficult for a large dog to jump onto a seat or bed, into the car, or stand on their hind legs. However, a dog who has hip dysplasia pain will not be able to do any of these things. 

Difficulty Getting Up

Most dogs can quickly jump to their feet when they realize that it’s dinner time or they are going for a walk. However, dogs with hip dysplasia might experience some temporary lameness when standing after they have been resting for a while. Your dog might have hip dysplasia if you have noticed they have trouble getting up even when excited. 

Less Interest in Playing

Limping and a reluctance to engage in play time either with humans or other dogs are often some of the first signs of hip dysplasia. If your dog is refusing to play, especially if they are young or a puppy, this can be quite concerning and usually indicates pain. 

Any dog can get hip dysplasia, but some breeds are more prone. If you have a dog, understanding the early signs of this condition is essential.

About the author
Mrs. Hatland is a 30-something married, mom of 7 and the face behind the popular online publication, Motherhood Defined. Known as the Iowa Mom blogger by her local peers and “The Fairy Blogmother” worldwide. She has professional experience in working closely with clients on brand ambassadorships, client outreach services, content creation and creative social media advertising exposure.

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