Dysplasia of the hip in dogs: symptoms, treatment and prevention

Pet Care

Hip dysplasia, a skeletal disease that more commonly affects large breed dogs (Labrador, Retriever, Rottweiler, German Shepherd …) primarily affects overweight individuals, but not only.

Discover here the main triggers and how to detect dysplasia in dogs.

Dysplasia of the hip in dogs

What is hip dysplasia?

 It may be a malformation occurring in the embryonic stage that will worsen later, but birth dysplasia is not the majority of cases.

The dog then develops laxity of the hip which often causes irreversible lesions in the joint. Thus, this condition is usually aggravated by the presence of osteoarthritis when the dog gets older. If not treated early enough, it can cause lameness and require surgery to place prosthesis in some cases. Screening for dysplasia is therefore an essential measure in order to intervene as quickly as possible and to limit the damage.

Symptoms of hip dysplasia in dogs

Patients with dysplasia rarely show signs of spontaneous pain; for this reason, it is important to observe your dog to detect it. Indeed, it is manifested first by early osteoarthritis that may go unnoticed at first. But we can notice in the dysplastic dog one or more symptoms like:

An abnormal gait, often swaying with a waddling of the hindquarters

A more or less pronounced lameness, usually accentuated in the morning at sunrise

Difficulty or stiffness when the dog gets up goes to bed, or on the stairs

A general reluctance to exercise and especially to jump or run

Poor coordination of hindquarters

A salience of the bones of the hips

A way of running abnormally, etc.

If you notice some of these symptoms, a veterinary check is crucial to make a diagnosis

 The installation of prosthesis of the hip to replace the damaged joint (head of the femur + cavity of the pelvic bone that receives it). It is very expensive, but effective, and avoids the administration of anti-inflammatory treatments for life. Another possibility is the removal of the head and neck of the femur: this intervention removes the hip joint and is not indicated in dogs with heavy or overweight frame.

There are other solutions, to relieve joint pain such as denervation of the affected area. Whatever solution is considered, it will be necessary to control the weight (diet in case of overweight) and the use of nutritional supplements. Finally, physiotherapeutic management, and particularly hydrotherapy, has good results.

Prevention of hip dysplasia in dogs

Dysplasia begins to develop during the growth phase of the puppy or young dog, so it is essential to avoid doing too much exercise to the animal when it is young, especially when it belongs to the one of the breeds prone to this disease.

The weight of the dog also increases the risk of hip dysplasia, which is why “massive” dogs such as Saint Bernard, Rottweiler or Dogue are exposed, as well as all purebred Retrievers because of the hereditary factor. Violent physical activity and jumps should be avoided until the dog has finished growing, from 8 months to over a year depending on the breed.

Take special care of your pet’s nutrition to prevent overweight, and consider consulting the veterinarian if in doubt and at the first sign. Dysplasia is diagnosable as early as 4 months, and the sooner it is detected, the greater the chances of operating without squeal, slowing down its progression, or even totally curing it or preventing its appearance in subjects diagnosed at risk.