Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD) is a skeletal condition that may develop as a dog grows and can be characterized by the hip joint being unstable or having a loose fit. The condition is common in large dog breeds, but can also happen to smaller dogs. To get a clearer picture of what the condition is, let us first get to know the anatomy of a dog’s hip joint.



A dog’s hip joint consists of a ball and socket. According to research, in those that have hip dysplasia, what happens is that the ball (femoral head) and socket (acetabulum) do not develop well or fit the proper way. Instead of smoothly gliding, it grinds against each other as the movement of the ball deforms the socket. Over time, this causes deterioration and the joint’s loss of function.

Causes

There are many factors that may cause hip dysplasia, but genetics is the biggest factor. It occurs more commonly in large and giant breeds. Dog breeds with hip dysplasia tendencies include: Saint Bernard, Great Dane, German Shepherd, and Labrador Retriever dogs. Factors like the kind of exercises your dog does, rapid weight gain/growth rate, and an unbalanced diet may further highlight or exacerbate the condition.

Not having the proper nutrition can contribute to the likelihood of a dog developing hip dysplasia. So does excessive or too little exercise. Rapid weight gain or obesity may also put much stress on their joints, which can worsen hip dysplasia or may lead to the development of the condition. Speak with your vet to determine the proper diet as well as the type and amount of exercise needed to keep your dog physically healthy.

Symptoms

In general, CHD can be divided into 2 groups that both exhibit symptoms: Group 1 comprises younger dogs (as young as 4 months old) that don’t have arthritis but have significant laxity in their hips while Group 2 comprises older dogs that have developed osteoarthritis in the hips as a result of CHD.

Read more: Arthritis in Dogs: Treating and Managing The Pain

Both cases experience symptoms that owners may be aware of. The symptoms may vary depending on how severe the condition is, the degree of joint laxity, the inflammation level, and how long the dog has been suffering from the condition. Such symptoms include:

  • Less activity/range of motion;
  • Lameness in the hind end;
  • Being reluctant or finding it difficult to stand up, run, go up the stairs, or jump;
  • Shifting their weight to their forelimbs;
  • Loss of muscle on their hind limbs;
  • Increased shoulder muscles;
  • Hip pain;
  • Grating in the joint when they move;
  • Limping;
  • Stiffness.

Dogs may exhibit the symptoms above at any stage of their CHD, however, there are many dogs who don’t show obvious signs.

Diagnosis

In some cases, a regular physical exam at your veterinarian may make your vet suspect that your dog has hip dysplasia. In other cases, however, it may not be obvious so you should let your vet know if you notice any symptoms of the condition.

Once you’re at the vet for a checkup, the first thing that your vet will probably do is to move your dog’s hind legs to determine whether there is joint laxity/looseness or if there are signs of pain, rubbing of joints, stiffness, and a decrease in their range of motion. Blood work may also be done to check for inflammation in the joints.

Your vet will also be asking about your dog’s history to have a better assessment of their health, the symptoms they’re exhibiting, as well as injuries or incidents that may have led to the symptoms, as well as your dog’s genetic history.

The test that usually confirms whether your dog has hip dysplasia or not is an x-ray or radiograph. The process involves taking a hip x-ray of your dog to find out the severity of their condition, which will then help your vet determine the best treatment options possible.

Treatment

Dog hip dysplasia has a number of possible treatment options, which may range from lifestyle changes to having surgery. If not severe, or if your dog cannot go through surgery for whatever reason, non-surgical treatments may be suggested by your veterinarian. Depending on your dog’s particular condition, here are the treatment options that may be suggested:

  • Physical therapy;
  • A change in diet to reduce weight (for less stress on the hips);
  • Joint supplements;
  • Joint fluid modifiers;
  • Anti-inflammatory medications.

Meanwhile, if your dog is recommended for surgery, there are also options as to what kind. Among the most common surgical procedures that veterinarians recommend to treat dog hip dysplasia are:

1. Femoral head ostectomy (FHO)

This can be performed in both pups and older dogs. It involves cutting the ball or femoral head off the hip’s joint. The result is that the body creates something of a “false” joint that helps lessen the pain or discomfort that your dog may be feeling. FHO doesn’t bring the hip function back to normal but it can be a good treatment for managing pain.

2. Double or triple pelvic osteotomy (DPO/TPO)

This surgery is usually done in dogs below 10 months old. Here, the ball and socket joint’s function is improved by way of trimming the pelvic bone and circling the segments.

3. Total hip replacement (THR)

This is the most effective treatment to help bring back hip function. In this surgery, the whole joint is replaced with plastic and metal implants. Apart from returning function, it removes the pain and discomfort that are associated with the condition.

Ways To Make Your Doggo's Life Easier

While there are cases of hip dysplasia that cannot be prevented, there are ways to reduce the chances of your dog getting the disease. It’s best to keep your dog’s skeletal system healthy as early as possible. This includes feeding them a diet that is appropriate for their specific needs in order to prevent excessive growth that may contribute to getting the disease.

At the same time, it is essential to provide the right amount and type of exercise as well as a healthy diet as your dog grows. This will help prevent excessive weight gain or obesity (a major contributing factor of getting hip dysplasia). Obesity also leads to many other health issues, so it’s best to make sure that they are eating appropriately. These are among the ways how to prevent dog hip dysplasia.

Petcube's interactive pet camera can help you track and monitor what your dog is eating and doing while you are away from home. And you can also have the recorded history of your doggo's whereabouts around the house!

Also, as a prospective dog owner, it is important to do your research regarding the breed of the dog so as to be ready and aware. According to Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) health testing may be helpful in being able to determine the status of your prospective dog’s health.

Emergency Fund

Treating dog hip dysplasia involves vet expenses that may be unexpected, and this applies to many other dog diseases as well. Because of this, it is better to have assurance and peace of mind when it comes to making sure that your dog is given the proper veterinary care and not be overwhelmed by veterinary expenses at the same time.

An option is to get pet insurance, but this can be expensive and have limited features. So what is a good alternative to pet insurance?

Petcube’s Pet Emergency Fund is a wonderful alternative to pet insurance. With an affordable subscription every year that covers all your pets whatever their gender, age, or breed, you get the security you need when it comes to making sure that their vet bills are covered.

At the same time, you also get to have access to their Online Vet service, where you can consult with licensed veterinarians anytime and anywhere. That way, you get to have peace of mind and be able to provide better care for your pets.

FAQ

How long can a dog live with hip dysplasia?

Thankfully, hip dysplasia doesn’t necessarily affect the life expectancy of dogs. With the proper treatment, a dog that has hip dysplasia can live a healthy and normal life. However, it is essential to provide the proper care and maintain a healthy lifestyle in your dogs to help prevent discomfort and mobility issues.

It would also help to have your dog checked with a veterinarian every 6 months to ensure their joint health and keep their muscle mobility and strength in good shape.

Is there a dog hip dysplasia home treatment?

One way to treat your dog with hip dysplasia at home is through hydrotherapy. If you have a swimming pool at home, guiding them as they swim can help them exercise without stressing their joints. Another way to treat your dog at home is to give them warm baths every once in a while.

This may help relieve some discomfort and pain that your dog may be feeling due to their condition. Taking your dogs on walks at a relaxed pace may also help them get the exercise that they need without harming their joints.