How to spot if your dog has hip dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a disease of the hip where a dog’s ball and socket joint is malformed.

This malformation means the ball portion and its socket don’t properly meet one another – resulting in a joint that rubs and grinds instead of sliding smoothly.

What are the signs of hip dysplasia in dogs?

The symptoms depend on how far the disease has progressed. Signs of hip dysplasia can be:

  • Decreased activity
  • Difficulty getting up
  • Reluctance to run, jump, or climb stairs
  • Intermittent or persistent lameness in back legs, often worse after exercise
  • ‘Bunny-hopping’ or swaying gait
  • Back legs unnaturally close together
  • Pain in hip joints

How is hip dysplasia diagnosed in dogs?

If you suspect your dog has hip dysplasia, your vet will perform a complete physical exam and may x-ray them.

How is hip dysplasia treated in dogs?

Most cases of hip dysplasia are managed medically. Arthritis will develop in the hip joints over time, resulting in discomfort. Managing your dog’s weight, gentle exercise, hydrotherapy and joint supplements are all useful in treating the symptoms of the disease.

Later in your dog’s life, they may require pain medication. In some cases, surgery can be performed. It’s a good idea to discuss costs with your vet before starting any treatment.

If you’re thinking of adopting a dog with hip dysplasia

Make sure you review the clinical history of your new dog and ask for more details on how the condition has been treated. You’ll need to sign a disclaimer to confirm you’ve been made aware of the condition. Any dog who’s had treatment is likely to have pet insurance exclusions, so it’s worth discussing potential on-going costs with your vet.

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