Treating Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

German Shepherd with Hip Dysplasia playing outside on his wheelchair

If your dog has recently been diagnosed with hip dysplasia, you may be worried about what this means. The good news is that most dogs with hip dysplasia live normal, active lives without any significant impact on their longevity. Nevertheless, hip dysplasia is a progressive disease and must be managed appropriately to ensure your dog maintains a good quality of life.

Canine Hip Dysplasia

The word “dysplasia” is a medical term that means abnormal growth or development. Animals with hip dysplasia are born with normal hip joints, but they experience structural changes to the joints as they grow and develop. Over time, these changes cause problems like joint instability, erosion of the cartilage that cushions the joint, and the development of bone spurs.

Hip dysplasia most commonly affects large breed dogs, although smaller breeds and cats can also be affected. Symptoms of hip dysplasia can begin in young dogs as early as 5-6 months of age, although many dogs do not develop noticeable signs until later in life. This condition is most common in large, stocky breeds such as the American Bulldog, St. Bernard, and the Basset Hound. Popular breeds such as German Shepherds, Labs, and Golden Retrievers also have a high incidence of hip dysplasia.

Tan dog sitting on a path outside

What Causes Hip Dysplasia in Dogs?

Hip dysplasia is a genetic condition, meaning it is passed from parents to offspring. However, its mode of inheritance is complex, and sometimes even normal parents can produce offspring with hip dysplasia.

In addition to genetics, several environmental factors can increase a dog’s risk of developing hip dysplasia. Studies have shown that rapid rates of growth will significantly increase an at-risk puppy’s likelihood of developing hip dysplasia. Feeding puppies diets that are too high in calories, protein, or calcium can predispose them to develop hip dysplasia, as well as several other orthopedic diseases. Other studies have found that too much or too little exercise during puppyhood may also play a role in this disease.



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