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Hip Dysplasia Symptoms in Dogs

Hip Dysplasia Symptoms in Dogs

The most commonly observed hip dysplasia symptom in dogs is pain that can be so intense that it cripples their movement. This article provides more information about this disease.
Bidisha Mukherjee
Hip dysplasia is a disease that occurs as a result of the abnormal development of the hip joint. Normally, the hip joint of a dog is a ball and socket kind of joint where the end of the thigh bone fits well into the socket of the hip. Hip dysplasia is a dog health problem where the head of the thigh bone does not insert into the socket properly. As a result, the cartilage of the joint tends to wear out and cause a lot of stress to the affected joint. Gradually, the joint gets badly damaged and leads to pain and inflammation. The symptoms in dogs can be found more in males than females. Moreover, pure breeds have higher chances of being affected by it as compared to mixed breeds.


Genetic factors are mainly responsible for causing this disease in dogs. Certain large breeds like German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Doberman Pinschers, etc. are genetically more susceptible to it. Though it can happen to medium or small-sized dogs as well, it's quite rare. Along with that, there are other factors that can aggravate the problem further. Dog food can play a major role in its development. Too many calories in the dog's diet can lead to obesity. This extra weight contributes towards faster degeneration of the hip joints. Rapid rate of growth in puppies in the period between three to ten months of age can also cause this kind of abnormal hip development. Sometimes, overexercise at a young age can have adverse effects on the hip joints.


The symptoms can vary from mild to severe depending on how badly your pet has been affected. The first signs can be noticed in puppies who are as young as 5-6 months old. In general, the symptoms in puppies are moderate. They include a tendency to hop like a rabbit while running, stiffness in the limb while walking or after the regular exercise regime, and difficulty in standing up. Gradually, the condition deteriorates over a period of time when the hip weakens further. Later on, as they grow up, you may notice that they are not willing to walk even small distances. While playing, they avoid jumping as their legs hurt. Usually, it is in the middle or later years that they start walking and running with an altered gait. Climbing stairs can be painful. They tend to avoid any such movements where full stretching of the rear legs may be required. These are some of the serious symptoms. Canine arthritis could be the possible reason for all these changes. In certain cases, the symptoms could be so severe that the dogs will not be able to get up or walk without assistance.


When you suspect that your dog is affected by this disease, visit a veterinarian without any delay. The disease is diagnosed with the help of a physical examination and x-ray. Both surgical as well as non-surgical treatment options are available. In the non-surgical method, medicines are given in order to reduce the pain and improve the mobility of the limbs. Swimming is also often recommended as an exercise as it does not put any additional pressure on the painful joint. Depending on the age and the severity of the condition, surgery could be suggested. There are a number of surgical procedures which are used to correct the problem. If it is detected at an early stage and the dog is less than 10 months of age, then the ball and socket of the affected joint can be realigned by surgical means. Another popular option is total replacement of the affected hip.

Since hip dysplasia is a genetic problem, you cannot do much to prevent it. However, you can suspend those activities that can aggravate the symptoms, like rough play, sliding on slick surfaces, excessive climbing of stairs, etc. Take care that your pet does not put on too much of weight. Many times, owners fail to identify the symptoms and assume them to be normal signs of aging. Thus, the treatment gets delayed. Therefore, if your pet has the genes of this disease, you have to be watchful and check for any symptoms.