Hip dysplasia in dogs

Dr Sandra Karlsen
Lead Veterinarian
February 17, 2024

Hip dysplasia is a common condition among larger dog breeds like German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, and Golden Retrievers, similar to other developmental orthopedic conditions. This condition arises from looseness in the coxofemoral joint, where the hip bone connects with the thigh bone. This laxity results in abnormal loading of the joint, ultimately leading to the development of osteoarthritis.

Early detection and proper management are vital for improving the quality of life for dogs affected by hip dysplasia.

What are common hip dysplasia signs in dogs?

Early signs include

  • Decreased activity
  • Reluctance to jump or climb stairs

Intermediate to advanced signs include: 

  • Lameness or limping
  • Difficulty standing
  • “Bunny hopping” when running
  • Audible clicking or popping in the hip joint
  • Muscle loss in hind legs

How is hip dysplasia managed in dogs?  

There are several ways to manage hip dysplasia in dogs. For less severe cases, it is important to manage their weight and control their exercise to reduce strain on their joints. In addition, anti-inflammatory treatments can help relieve pain and reduce inflammation. For more severe cases, surgery may be required. Procedures such as femoral head ostectomy or total hip replacement can help improve mobility and alleviate discomfort.

What is the prognosis for dogs with hip dysplasia?

Dogs who have hip dysplasia can still have long and fulfilling lives, especially with proper treatment. If you suspect that your dog may be affected, it's important to consult with your veterinarian. They can provide you with treatment options and suggest lifestyle changes that can help keep your dog comfortable as they age.

Additionally, it may be beneficial to bring your dog in for a physical examination every six months to monitor their joint health and improve muscle strength and mobility.

Management tips for dogs with hip dysplasia

At-home needs include:

  • Maintain a healthy body weight to reduce joint stress.
  • Encourage muscle strengthening through regular, low-impact exercise.
  • Use orthopaedic bedding to help support joints.

For end-of-life care:

In a crisis:

Immediately contact your vet if your dog shows signs of increased pain, stiffness, or reluctance to move, experiences difficulty in getting up or climbing stairs, or displays any other concerning symptoms related to hip dysplasia. 

It is vital to begin end-of-life care discussions before your dog‘s condition becomes unmanageable, or they begin losing their quality of life. 

Don’t wait until the very end. It’s important to consider your pet’s end-of-life journey early, so that you, your family and your pet are all supported through the process.

When the time comes, we’re here for you. Goodbye Good Boy provides a range of end-of-life services to make the difficult process of saying goodbye a little easier. 

We offer quality of life assessments from qualified vets, specialist grief counselling, at home euthanasia from dedicated end of life veterinarians, as well as cremation services and memorial options to help remember your pet for their unique character.

We are with you at every step of the journey.

To find out more, you can call our team of passionate pet lovers on 1800 953 619.