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Canine Hip Dysplasia


Canine Hip Dysplasia is one of the most prevalent bone diseases in dogs today. While most commonly seen in the large breed and giant breed dogs, it can also be found in the smaller breeds. Dogs that are susceptible to this disease include the German Shepherd, the Great Dane, the Rottweiler, and the Labrador Retriever.

Hip dysplasia is basically the failure of the hip joint to form normally. This malformation will continue to deteriorate, which could cause a complete failure of the hips to function. Your dog will show signs of this disease well before loss of function, so veterinary aid can be obtained.

Symptoms of Canine Hip Dysplasia

Normal Dog Hip

Normal dog hip. Note the Femoral heads fit snugly into the socket.

Moderate Hip Dysplasia

Moderate Hip Dysplasia. The Femoral heads have begun to flatten, and the sockets are much looser.

Severe Hip Dysplasia

Severe Hip Dysplasia. The Femoral heads and sockets now have bone spurs, and the sockets have widened.

Hip dysplasia usually begins while the dog is young and still forming. It can, however begin much later when joint inflammation from osteoarthritis causes the deterioration of the joint cartilage. You will typically note several symptoms of developing hip dysplasia:

  • Your dog experiences difficulty when rising
  • Your dog seems hesitant to jump or climb stairs
  • Your dog shows signs of being lame in her hind legs, either persistently or intermittently
  • Your dog maintains her hind legs uncharacteristically close together
  • Noticeable looseness of the joint
  • Your dog shows a decreased range of motion of the hind legs
  • Your dog sways when she walks

Potential causes of canine hip dysplasia

There are both hereditary and environmental reasons your dog may be suffering from hip dysplasia. Some dog breeds are more prone to this disease than others, but dogs without the hereditary lean towards hip dysplasia have still been diagnosed with the disease. A word of caution here. Just because your dog is not genetically pre-disposed to have hip dysplasia does not mean she will not get it. And if she does have that genetic link, it does not necessarily mean she will suffer from it.

Another factor that may cause canine hip dysplasia is over exercise, especially when your puppy is young. This should be balanced with the fact that dogs that have well developed musculature in the joint area are less likely to contract the disease. Moderate exercise that increases this muscle mass is a good idea, so yes to running and swimming is a yes. However, exercise that put a lot of force on the joint should be avoided at a young age. Playing with your Frisbee will probably be best left until she is older.

A final cause to look at deals with nutrition. Obviously, obesity can increase the chance your dog, especially if she is already a susceptible breed, will contract hip dysplasia. But even just growing too fast when a puppy can increase the incidence. This rapid growth can often occur if you feed your puppy "free choice", so you may want to rethink your feeding preferences if your dogs breed already predisposes her to this disease. One final consideration, especially if you are using homemade dog food, is a diet that contains too little or too much calcium and other minerals. Proper research on nutritional balance is essential if not using commercial dog food diets.

Possible solutions for canine hip dysplasia


The best way to control hip dysplasia in dogs is selective breeding, only breeding dogs that have proven to be free of this disease. If you are in the market for a new dog, make sure you only buy from reputable dealers who have had not only their dogs tested for hip dysplasia, but have kept records of the parents and grand parents of their dogs, and they have also been found to be disease free. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals maintains a database with a lot of information, including the ability to find information on the prospective parent dogs.

Natural treatment

Mild to moderate exercise will help develop the muscles around the hip joints, helping maintain the proper alignment. Avoid heavy exercise and jumping, especially using only the hind legs. Swimming is probably the most beneficial exercise you can provide your dog, if they are inclined to swim.

Make sure your dog is not overweight. Obesity will exaggerate to symptoms of hip dysplasia. If she is overweight, the exercise and a more appropriate meal portion will help relieve some of the symptoms.

Massaging the area of the hips may help relieve the pain, but make sure you monitor your dog when doing this, as it may actually aggravate the condition instead of helping.

Invest in a dog ramp or ramps. These can make trips outdoors much easier if she does not have to use stairs. This is also useful in getting her in and out of the car.



Arthro-IonX is a homeopathic medicine that can relieve the pain and stiffness caused by Canine Hip Dysplasia safely and naturally.

Probably the best medications you can give your dog to relieve her of the pain of hip dysplasia is glucosamine and chondroitin. These compounds will help to repair and replace the cartilage damage on the joint surface. This damage is what allows bone to bone contact and pain associated both with hip dysplasia and osteoarthritis. These compounds are not pain killers, though, so for the first month or more you probably will also need to use a pain killer described below.

Buffered aspirin is both an anti-inflammatory and a painkiller that is commonly recommended along with the glucosamine/chondroitin treatments. However, being an aspirin, it does have the potential for causing intestinal upset problems.

Other NSAIDs like carprofen or deracoxib may be recommended by your vet. These are prescription strength, and typically require blood work both before and during treatment, due to possible side affects dealing with the liver.


The type of surgery available in treatment of your dog depends a lot on her age and her size. Some of the recommended surgeries must be performed before your dog turns 10 months old, such as a Triple Pelvic Osteotomy (TPO). This surgery involves breaking the pelvic bones and realigning the femoral head to correct the subluxation.

For fully grown dogs, total hip replacement or Femoral Head and Neck Excision are available. The femoral head and neck excision is a salvage procedure used to treat painful hip conditions. It is usually reserved for small to medium sized dogs.

As you probably know, surgery is expensive, and may be precluded exactly for that reason. Discuss options and financial options with your veterinarian prior to making a final decision.

Learn more about Canine Hip Dysplasia

Sally Doyle went through the trials and heartbreak of having her Labrador Retriever diagnosed with hip dysplasia when the dog was 7 months old. While she was able to find a lot of information related to the different treatment options, she could not find specific information on what she needed to expect in the future. So she discussed this with 40 other dog owners who had gone through hip dysplasia with their dogs, and compiled those discussions into a book, available both electronically, delivered instantly, and as a physical book, mailed to your home. Click here to get further information on this book.

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