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What is Hip Dysplasia?

Dogs and their owners have a special bond that few other relationships can rival, but part of looking after them means keeping them healthy. We can try our best, and that means reading up on symptoms, treatments and preventative measures to keep our furry best friends comfortable.

Hip dysplasia is an unfortunately common condition in dogs. It’s a big worry for owners of big breed dogs like German Shepherd or Doberman, but it can affect any breed and any size of dog. It’s painful to go through and painful for owners to watch.

But if you know what you’re looking for and what to expect, you can make your friend as comfortable as possible throughout their life. Read on for our breakdown of canine hip dysplasia and what can be done about it.

What is canine hip dysplasia?

A skeletal condition, hip dysplasia affects the hips of the dog, which are a ball and socket joint. If the ball and socket don’t fit properly, as is the case with hip dysplasia, the dog’s hips can deteriorate and eventually lose function.

It’s caused by several factors, but the first is genetics. This is why it’s a common belief that only large dogs get hip dysplasia, because it’s largely common amongst larger breeds like Great Danes, Saint Bernards and Labradors. There are also factors such as the type of exercise the dog is getting, its weight and nutrition and excessive growth rate.

How to spot it

Figuring out if an illness or ailment is affecting a dog takes some guesswork, but you’ll want to keep an eye out for symptoms of hip dysplasia. These symptoms can include decreased range of motion, difficulty jumping, running or climbing stairs, lameness in the back end, swaying, grating on the joint, loss of muscle mass and pain and stiffness.

How to prevent it

There are moves that you can make that have had positive results for preventing hip dysplasia in dogs, like meeting nutritional requirements as a pup to prevent excessive growth. Another good measure is to make sure your dog is getting the right amount of exercise. Both too much and too little is a factor in hip dysplasia.

If you’re worried, you can look into glucosamine for dogs for a boost of daily nutrients in a supplement that will help ease joint pain and discomfort. It’s likely a vet will prescribe glucosamine as part of a treatment plan for arthritis.

How to treat it

If you spot one or more of the symptoms above, you might want to take your dog to the vet for a checkup. Once they have confirmed it is hip dysplasia, they can start a round of treatment that might include weight loss to take the stress off the hips, physical therapy, anti-inflammatory meds, and joint supplements.

Surgery offers another range of options, including a double or triple pelvic osteotomy, a femoral head ostectomy, or a total hip replacement.

There are options out there to deal with hip dysplasia, whether it’s a concern you’re looking to avoid, or an issue you now have to deal with. There are ways to keep your buddy feeling great for the rest of their lives.