Hip dysplasia is a degenerative joint disease of the ball and socket joint in the hind legs of dogs, often seen in large and giant breeds. 

There are many variables with this condition such as heredity, whether it affects one or both hip joints, and the age of the dog when the condition starts to cause problems. 

What Causes Hip Dysplasia in Dogs? 

Canine hip dysplasia begins with abnormal development of the joint when the dog is still a puppy. 

It might start due to genetics or other factors such as growing too fast or over-exercising, when the soft tissues that holds the joint together become lax and the ball and socket start to rub and grind against each other. 

In very large dog breeds, nutrition can play a major role in contributing to hip dysplasia because the wrong type of food leads to fast growth which means the joints haven’t yet developed enough to support the extra weight. 

The Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia 

Your dog could show signs of hip dysplasia while they’re still young, or the condition might not be apparent until your dog is a senior, in which case it’s often attributed to the normal ageing process. 

Pain, stiffness and a reluctance to engage in normal activities are usually the first signs of something that is not right. 

There can also be limping and lameness in the hind legs, a swaying gait, and in more severe cases you can hear the joint grinding and feel the looseness. Affected dogs might also develop large shoulder muscles to compensate and lose muscle mass in the thighs. 

Your dog is experiencing varying levels of discomfort and pain with these symptoms, so don’t ignore anything out of the ordinary, and speak to your vet at the next check-up, or sooner if necessary. 

Treating Hip Dysplasia in Dogs 

Depending on the age of your dog and the severity of the hip dysplasia, there are surgical and non-surgical treatments available. 

Weight reduction, restricted exercise, anti-inflammatory medications, and physical therapy can all help the condition if it’s not too severe. 

Dogs with advanced hip dysplasia that are good candidates for surgical intervention can benefit from a range of surgeries including total hip replacement if necessary. 

Ways to Prevent Hip Dysplasia 

There are some ways to minimise the risk of hip dysplasia in your dog such as paying careful attention to diet and exercise when they’re pups and ensuring they don’t become overweight. 

Since it’s often a genetic condition, any dog displaying symptoms of hip dysplasia should not be used for breeding. 

Always buy dogs from reputable breeders who screen for health conditions in their dogs. 

Sydney Animal Hospital and Specialist Vet 

Sydney Vet Specialists is dedicated to providing quality 24 hour veterinary care for your pets, as well as specialist services for a wide range of conditions. 

To speak to one of caring, professional team members about hip dysplasia symptoms and treatment for your dog, call us on 02 9197 5800, or contact us online 

Book an appointment for your pet between Monday and Friday 8:30am-6pm or call us for emergency veterinarian services and after hours care.