Hip dysplasia is an inherited condition resulting from an improperly formed hip joint. Because the joint is loose, the dog's leg bone moves around too much, causing painful wear and tear.
How Can I Tell if My Dog Has Hip Dysplasia?
Some cases of hip dysplasia are so mild there are no symptoms, but if your dog seems stiff or sore in the hips when getting up, if he seems hesitant to exercise, stand on his hind legs or climb stairs, or if he’s limping or bunny-hopping, a visit to the vet is in order.
When Do Dogs Develop Hip Dysplasia?
Each case is different, depending on the dog. Hip dysplasia can begin to develop in puppies of five months old and worsen as they age-or not show up at all until a dog has reached geriatric years. In many cases, though, the condition becomes noticeable in dogs in their middle or later years.
How Is Hip Dysplasia Diagnosed?
An evaluation for hip dysplasia will likely include a physical examination, radiographs and manual tests on your dog’s hips.
Which Dogs Are Prone to Hip Dysplasia?
Hip dysplasia commonly affects larger breeds of dogs, including bulldogs, mastiffs, American Staffordshire terriers, St. Bernards, retrievers, and Rottweilers. However, dogs of all breeds and all sizes are susceptible to this inherited condition, including some small breeds, such as pugs, and French bulldogs.
How Can Hip Dysplasia Be Treated?
Because hip dysplasia is caused by an inherited defect, there are no products that can prevent its development. There are several surgical options, including a complete hip replacement. However, a combination of healthy diet, maintaining a normal weight, exercise, massage, warm and dry sleeping areas, joint supplements, and, potentially, prescription veterinary pain-relieving medication can help manage the condition. Your vet will help you with a daily pain-relieving program that is right for your dog.
Should Dogs with Hip Dysplasia Exercise?
Talk to your dog’s veterinarian about a good exercise program. Walking and moderate running can help strengthen the muscles around the joint. Your vet may recommend that you try for two 20-minute walks each day-just be sure to let your dog set the pace. As a general rule, it’s smart to avoid jumping or running for long distances. If you can, consider letting your dog swim for exercise-swimming is excellent for the muscles surrounding his joints.
Can Proper Diet Help Alleviate Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia?
Weight plays an important role in the comfort of your dog’s hips. Extra weight can add stress to hip joints, so make sure your dog is on a healthy diet, especially if he's a large breed. You can work with your vet to find the right eating regimen for your dog.
What Else Can I Do to Ease My Dog’s Pain?
Talk to your vet about the following tips:
- Apply a warm water bottle for 15 minutes twice a day.
- Massage the muscles around his hip joints, gently rubbing in a circular motion with your fingertips for ten minutes at the most. (Pay attention to his response. If massage seems to irritate your dog’s hip, don’t continue.)
- There are prescription painkillers available from your veterinarian to help keep your dog pain-free.
- Keep your dog out of damp, chilly weather.
- Provide traction on slippery floors: Dogs with hip dysplasia often have a hard time on slippery floors, so lay carpet down, and if he needs to climb stairs or jump up into the car, a carpeted ramp will make it a lot easier on him.
- Provide a firm, orthopedic bed for your dog.