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Hip Dysplasia in Dogs: Symptoms & Treatments

As your dog runs, walks, plays, and jump around, it mostly uses its hind legs to help set themselves in motion to do whatever that they need to do. However, as your dog grows, their hip ball-and-socket joint should grow equally. What happens if that doesn’t happen as your dog ages?

That is what is referred to as hip dysplasia, a condition that is common among large and giant-breed dogs, but can also happen to any size and breed of dog. Hip dysplasia can be seen at a young age, but this condition manifests itself later on as your dog becomes older. This can be treated as early when detected, so knowing the symptoms and signs can greatly help your dog before it becomes worse.

What is Hip Dysplasia?

Hip Dysplasia or Canine Hip Dysplasia is a condition that happens in dogs as they grow and their hip joints don’t develop properly. The hip joints are composed of a ball and socket, and these two should grow equally to be able to function properly and support the hip joints. If the ball and socket don’t develop equally, it results in an unstable, loose hip joint that eventually deteriorates and loses function over time.

Hip Dysplasia is an uncomfortable and painful condition that may lead to more serious problems for your dog. The loose hip joint can cause damage to the joint anatomy. If left untreated, dogs may develop osteoarthritis (AKA degenerative joint disease) wherein the abnormal hip movement affects the cartilage that causes the formation of tissue scarring and bone spurring. 

What Are The Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs?

Hip dysplasia may sometimes go undetected, but several signs can be seen once they are present. They can be seen for as early as four months of age or later on as they grow older. The signs are usually similar, no matter what age your dog is. Depending on the length of this condition, severity of the condition, level of inflammation, and the looseness of the joints – symptoms may vary for each dog. 

The common signs or symptoms of hip dysplasia in dogs are:

  • Chronic to occasional lameness
  • Limping without history of trauma or injury
  • Decreased activeness
  • Cracking or popping sounds of joints
  • Difficulty in moving
  • Inability to move, jump, run, or walk
  • Bunny hopping when in motion such as running
  • Unstable and trouble standing 
  • Swelling or enlargement of shoulder muscles 
  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Abnormal sitting posture
  • Reluctance or difficulty to climb stairs

Dogs may not show all these clinical signs, but seeing their behaviour and knowing what’s normal and what isn’t – should help pet owners determine if this condition is present. Younger dogs commonly won’t show these signs as prominently. This condition is very uncomfortable and painful, so detecting it in any way can help your dog a lot.

How Do You Treat Hip Dysplasia in Dogs?

Help your dog get properly diagnosed and checked by taking them to your veterinarian. From then on, tests will be performed, such as x-rays and examining the hip area for looseness. 

Thankfully, there are many treatments available for hip dysplasia in dogs. However, they also vary depending on the age, condition, and lifestyle of your dog. Your veterinarian will most likely recommend changes in their lifestyle pertaining to their nutritional and activity needs. Maintaining a healthy diet, daily exercise, and keeping their weight around the average. It is also important to have their joints massaged and sleeping in a comfortable, warm area.

Along with those, supplements and medications will also be prescribed to help ease the pain while managing the condition. Your vet will recommend a program that can help with pain. 

Depending on the case for your dog, here are the common treatments that your vet will recommend treating hip dysplasia:

  • Weight reduction
  • Exercise restriction, especially on hard surfaces
  • Physical therapy
  • Joint supplements 
  • Anti-inflammatory medications or steroids
  • Joint fluid modifiers
  • Surgery
  • Acupuncture

Hip dysplasia cannot be prevented as of now, since there are no studies or research done for it, especially if the condition is hereditary. But early detection can help a lot in managing this condition as well as having a right lifestyle to keep your dog healthy. 

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