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Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

German Shepard with tongue hanging out running on grass
Dr. Rick Coufal, DVM

Dr. Rick Coufal, DVM

Dr. Rick Coufal is the founder and lead veterinarian for Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic. Coufal graduated from State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in May of 2000.

A lot of the time, owners imagine going to the vet if their dog has a wound of some sort. However; more often than not, your dog can develop a health problem you can’t see. That’s why it is very important to keep a close eye on your beloved pet. Hip dysplasia in dogs is one of the issues that you will have to be aware of. At Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic, we strive to educate El Paso County’s dog owners on various health issues, as we want to ensure your dog remains healthy and enjoys all stages of life.

German Shepard with tongue hanging out running on grass

What Is Hip Dysplasia In Dogs?

Hip Dysplasia is a skeletal condition in dogs that affects how your dog’s hip joints function. A healthy hip joint functions as a ball and socket that slides smoothly. Contrastingly, if a dog has hip dysplasia, the ball and socket joint will rub and grind. 

Unfortunately, hip dysplasia can have lasting effects on your dog. Hip dysplasia often causes your dog frequent pain. The discomfort created by hip dysplasia affects daily activities and can grow more severe at your dog ages.

Generally, large dog breeds are more likely to have hip dysplasia, including German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, and Siberian Huskies. Although hip dysplasia is more common in large dog breeds, there are cases when small dog breeds develop this skeletal condition.

What Causes of Hip Dysplasia In Dogs?

Often, hip dysplasia is a genetic issue in dogs, especially with the large breed dogs. However, there are factors that can worsen the symptoms or even develop hip dysplasia. 

  • Diet
  • Growth rate – If your dog is growing faster than normal, this can put strain on their skeletal system, as their joints can’t keep up.
  • Hormones
  • Weight/Muscle Mass – Sometimes, your dog’s weight can put extra pressure on its skeleton and joints. Most often, this is the case if your dog is overweight or muscular, but other times, their skeletal system has weakened.
  • Exercise – If your dog is getting an excessive amount of exercise, this can put stress on the joints.
  • Environment

Signs Of  Hip Dysplasia In Dogs

If your dog has developed hip dysplasia, it is likely he has been acting sluggish or has been struggling to jump up on the couch to curl up in his favorite spot. These symptoms must be monitored to protect your dog. Other symptoms you may notice in your dog are:

  • Less activity
  • Having difficulty getting up, jumping, or climbing stairs
  • Walking differently or limping
  • Stiff or has a limited range of motion

Does My Dog Have Hip Dysplasia?

If you are concerned your dog may have hip dysplasia, you should go to the vet. To diagnose hip dysplasia, the vet will check for pain points, grinding, and range of motion. Following this, the vet may take an x-ray or a radio-graph, as these provide a more definitive diagnosis.

Treatment for Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Once diagnosed, it is time to treat your dog’s hip dysplasia. Depending on what the vet determines is the cause of the hip dysplasia, a treatment will be recommended. Most commonly, vets will suggest:

  • Supplements/Medication – These will help strengthen the joints and act as anti-inflammatory measures.
  • Weight loss – The reduction in weight will help take stress of the hips
  • Exercise restrictions – By limiting the dog’s movement, the joints will have more time to recuperate.

If your dog’s case of hip dysplasia is severe, surgery may be the best option. Depending on your dog’s situation, the surgery may be a hip replacement, a femoral head ostectomy, or a double or triple pelvic osteotomy.

How To Prevent Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

It is not always possible to prevent hip dysplasia. Many dogs may be genetically predisposed to hip dysplasia, but there are preventative measures to lessen the impacts or prevent the concern altogether. These two preventative measures should be implemented when your dog is young.

  • Balanced Diet – Giving your dog the appropriate nutrition will help strengthen their skeletal system.
  • Proper Exercise – You dog should get an adequate amount of exercise to ensure a healthy weight. It is also important to keep tabs on the type of exercise. Too much jumping, running, etc. can put too much strain on their joints.

Think Your Dog May Have Hip Dysplasia?

At Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic, our experienced team prioritizes the health and happiness of the dogs they care for and wants to see them thrive throughout every stage of life. If you have concerns about hip dysplasia, your dog can be evaluated during a wellness exam. While checking for joint and muscle discomfort, your dog will also get a thorough exam that includes things like heart, lung, and weight checkups. Reach out to us to see how we can help your dog stay happy and healthy.

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Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic is seeking an enthusiastic and caring veterinarian to work relief, part-time or full-time in our general practice. PVC is a full-service, 3+ doctor, small-animal veterinary hospital. We have established an excellent reputation for developing lasting relationships with our clients and for providing compassionate and quality care to our patients.