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Hip Dysplasia in Dogs: All-in-One Guide

Hip dysplasia is a source of worry for many owners of large-breed dogs, although it can affect dogs of any size. So, what is hip dysplasia, and why is it such a significant concern for pet owners? Below is a comprehensive guide covering everything you should know about hip dysplasia in dogs, including its signs, symptoms, treatments, and care.

What Is Hip Dysplasia in Dogs and Puppies?

Hip dysplasia is a canine condition that typically develops during the growth phase. It involves the hip joint becoming loose, leading to discomfort and impaired function. As dogs mature, the hip’s cartilage and bone deteriorate, resulting in arthritis, muscle wasting, and reduced mobility. This condition predominantly impacts larger breeds, with evidence indicating a hereditary component.

What Are the Signs of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs and Puppies?

Signs of hip dysplasia in dogs and puppies may vary, but common indicators include:

  • Persistent or intermittent lameness
  • Limping without a history of trauma
  • Audible cracking or popping noises from the joints
  • “Bunny hopping” gait during running
  • Difficulty standing up
  • Unusual sitting postures
  • Struggles with activities like getting onto furniture, climbing stairs, or entering cars

Dogs often conceal pain well and may not exhibit all these signs. Nonetheless, hip dysplasia is a painful condition, regardless of the presence of symptoms.

Which Breeds Are Prone to Canine Hip Dysplasia?

German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, and Labrador Retrievers are among the breeds most susceptible to canine hip dysplasia. However, any large or giant breed dog can be at risk for this condition. For owners of large or giant breed dogs, it’s advisable to schedule monthly checkups between 8 weeks and 10 months of age to assess whether surgical interventions may be necessary.

How Do You Treat Dog Hip Dysplasia?

Early detection of hip dysplasia in dogs can mitigate or potentially prevent the development of long-term arthritis associated with the condition. Treatment options for canine hip dysplasia include various surgical procedures and medical management through medications. Your veterinarian will assess multiple factors to determine the most suitable treatment for your dog. Before deciding on surgery or medical intervention, your pet should undergo a comprehensive orthopedic evaluation.

Surgical Options

Before opting for surgical intervention, various factors need consideration. In many instances, surgery offers a promising prognosis, enabling dogs to regain normal functionality for a fulfilling life. Before reaching 18 weeks of age, dogs may undergo a joint-preserving procedure known as juvenile pubic symphysiodesis. For those under 10 months old, a triple pelvic osteotomy is an option. In cases of adult dogs with mature skeletons experiencing heightened joint pain and restricted movement, common procedures include total hip replacements and femoral head osteotomies. Consult your primary care veterinarian or a board-certified veterinary surgeon to determine the most suitable options for your pet.

Medical Management

The medical management of hip dysplasia involves adopting a multimodal approach to pain relief while preserving joint and muscle health. Oral joint supplements typically contain ingredients like omega fatty acids, glucosamine, methylsulfonylmethane, and chondroitin. Injectable therapies like polysulfated glycosaminoglycan injections can also support joint health. Additionally, consulting with your primary care veterinarian about prescription dog food formulated for joint health can replace daily joint supplements. Some options include Hill’s Prescription Diet j/d Joint Care dry dog food, Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets JM Joint Mobility dry dog food, Royal Canin Large Breed Joint Care dry dog food, and Royal Canin Mobility Support Large Breed dry dog food. Depending on the severity of your dog’s pain, prescription pain medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are commonly prescribed to alleviate inflammation, a primary source of discomfort.

Complementary Treatment

Complementary treatments are utilized in conjunction with other interventions.

  • Physical Therapy

Physical therapy and engaging in low- to moderate-impact daily exercise promote joint health, mobility, muscle strength, and facilitate weight loss.

  • Acupuncture

Acupuncture has demonstrated effectiveness in enhancing muscle strength, joint mobility, and reducing pain.

Weight Management

Weight management is crucial for dogs experiencing joint pain, irrespective of whether they undergo surgical or medical treatment. Maintaining your dog at an optimal body condition is essential to prevent excess strain on their joints. Consult your primary care veterinarian to devise a weight-management plan tailored to your dog’s needs. Maintaining a healthy weight is vital for alleviating joint pain associated with increased body weight.

How Long Can a Dog Live With Hip Dysplasia?

With appropriate surgical and medical interventions, a dog diagnosed with hip dysplasia can lead a typical, healthy lifespan. It’s essential for your dog to undergo regular physical examinations with your veterinarian every six months to monitor joint health and enhance muscle strength and mobility.

How to Prevent Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Currently, there is no known method for preventing hip dysplasia in dogs. It is believed to be a hereditary condition, often present from birth, particularly in large and giant breeds. To promote good joint health and safeguard joint cartilage, it’s advisable to initiate joint supplements for high-risk dogs as early as 3 months of age. Additionally, collaborating with your veterinarian to maintain your dog’s healthy weight is essential, as it helps minimize stress on the joints.

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