Dogs are amazing creatures. We love them, we care for them, and we want to make sure they're happy and healthy for as long as possible. One way that we can help keep our dogs healthy is by knowing the warning signs of various ailments and illnesses.
For example, if your dog seems to be having trouble walking without pain or discomfort, there's a chance they may have hip dysplasia—a condition that plagues many dogs. However, there are several treatment options out there for this common malady, and all of them can help keep your pup moving comfortably through their golden years!
Dog Hip Displacement vs Dog Hip Dysplasia
When it comes to your pup's health, there are plenty of terms that get tossed around, so it's totally understandable that you may get things confused from time to time!
A dog hip displacement occurs when the ball part of the joint pops out of the socket suddenly, often due to blunt trauma. In dogs with hip dysplasia, on the other hand, the upper thigh ball portion of the hip socket is not fully covered during growth in the hip socket. This results in an incongruous joint, causing your dog discomfort and pain when they walk.
The diagram below shows what a typical dog's hip joint looks like.
Hip dislocations can happen to even the strongest dogs when there is enough force, and dogs with hip dysplasia are at higher risk for this kind of injury, so it's important to keep tabs on especially large breed dogs as they grow. Don't be afraid to ask your vet some questions if you're concerned about the way your pup is moving.
Other Dog Hip Issues to Watch Out for
While we’re on the topic of hip dysplasia, it’s a good time to learn about other dog hip issues so you can have the information you need to differentiate one concern from another.
Some of these include:
- Legg-Calve-Perthe disease
We're going to get into some background information that can help you better understand common conditions that could be the culprit behind your pup's hip pain.
Issue #1: Dog Arthritis
When we’re talking about joint conditions like hip dysplasia, dog arthritis is never far from our minds.
Both can impact your dog’s hips and by extension, their mobility. In arthritis, there is significant inflammation of the joints, caused by worn-down cartilage or excess wear and tear on the joints. It can make walking difficult for your dog and cause pain when they attempt to move their legs.
Arthritis symptoms include:
- An inability to get up after lying down or sitting
- Stiffness when moving around
Arthritis symptoms can be mild or severe. If your dog is showing any of these signs, it’s a good idea to talk to your vet about how best to treat them. Arthritis is a progressive disease, meaning that it gets worse over time. And if left untreated, the symptoms can become more severe and painful for your dog.
Some dogs may get arthritis from old age or because of an injury. And it’s especially not uncommon for large breed dogs to develop arthritis as they get older, especially if they are overweight or lack regular exercise in their lives. In some cases, a dog can be born with joint problems that cause them to develop arthritis early in life.
Issue #2: Legg Calve Perthes Disease
Legg Calve Perthes disease is a condition that affects the hip joints of young dogs. It is caused by a lack of blood supply to the femoral head (the ball at the top of the thigh bone), which spontaneously degenerates. This results in the collapse of the hip, leading to pain and lameness.
Legg Calve Perthes disease, while mostly mysterious in cause, has been linked to small dogs under 20 pounds and other genetic factors.
To diagnose Legg-Calve-Perthes, x-rays are needed. As the hip changes over time, multiple repeated radiographs are sometimes needed to gauge progression and other damage.
Issue #3: Osteochondrosis
Osteochondrosis is a disorder that involves cartilage in the dog's joints. This disease can occur at the ends of long bones, such as in the hip or knee, but it most commonly appears in the elbow joint and generally affects large-breed dogs.
Osteochondrosis may be found in young and adult puppies, but it often becomes evident during your pet's adolescence (between 6 months old and 2 years). In some cases, osteochondrosis causes little to no symptoms. However, if left untreated it can lead to permanent lameness or even arthritis down the road.
The cause of osteochondrosis is unknown—however, there are several common factors that seem to contribute to it:
- Rapid growth spurts
- Trauma/injury during exercise or playtime with other animals
- An imbalance between nutrients consumed in their diet
How to Prevent Dog Hip Dysplasia
Now that you know what dog hip dysplasia is, it's time to look at ways of preventing the condition in the first place. That way, you can enjoy more happy, healthy years with your pup.
Just a note though – as much as we try to prevent hip dysplasia, there is sometimes nothing we can do to prevent this condition from taking effect.
With that disclaimer in mind, you can check out our prevention and care tips to help avoid serious dog hip dysplasia treatment down the road.
Prevention Tip #1: Balance Their Diet
Regarding diet, there are 3 main priorities for preventing hip dysplasia in dogs:
- Feeding the right ingredients and vitamins
- Feeding the right quantity of food
- Manage obesity with the right dog diet
The first step to preventing hip dysplasia in your dog is to ensure that they get the right nutrients and vitamins.
To support healthy joints and muscles, you should feed your dog a high-quality diet that includes:
In terms of portion control, if you're feeding a commercial pet food that isn't labeled “low calorie” or “diet” then stick with what's recommended on their packaging as an estimate for how much they should eat each day, for their size and breed. Too much uncontrolled eating as puppies can lead some large breed dogs to have hip issues later in life.
You can also feed a specialty diet such as a raw food diet for dogs or opt for cooked, homemade doggie dishes to give them some variety. Just remember that any DIY misses the professional analysis of ingredients for the right balance of nutrients—so use extra caution.
Finally, managing your dog’s weight is also key to reducing dog hip dysplasia symptoms. The more weight bearing down on your pup’s hips—the harsher the pain from hip dysplasia will be. Managing your dog’s weight can be challenging, but offering diet food for overweight pups can be a simple way to get started. You can also consult your dog-tor for some more information about helping your beloved companion lose weight for good!
Prevention Tip #2: Consider Lineage
A good way to prevent hip dysplasia in your dog is by considering lineage. Lineage is extremely important when it comes to determining whether a dog will develop this condition or not.
Many breeders take hip scores of their animals into consideration before selling them off as puppies. The scores, ranging from 0 to 106 (0 to 53 for each hip), indicate the degree of hip dysplasia. If a parent has poor scores, then there's a chance that their offspring could also experience hip dysplasia, too. Because of all these reasons (and more), we highly recommend considering who exactly produced your puppy before buying, especially if they're purebred.
Prevention Tip #3: Include a Dog Supplement
Protect your dog from the inside and out! By feeding your pup glucosamine for dogs joint supplement, they can improve their joint health and have less pain from their dog hip dysplasia symptoms.
Since hip dysplasia in dogs is largely related to joint structure and health, certain ingredients can help reduce pain and improve the quality of your dog’s cartilage.
The table below shows some of the best ingredients to look for in dog hip dysplasia supplements.
Ingredient in Dog Hip Dysplasia Supplement
An essential nutrient that helps repair cartilage, which is the connective tissue between bones in joints. Chondroitin also has anti-inflammatory properties and is known to assist in repairing and regenerating damaged joints and cartilage.
Benefits your dog by assisting in rebuilding damaged joints while reducing inflammation associated with degeneration caused by injury over time due to their condition.
Reduces pain and inflammation caused by dog hip dysplasia.
Prevention Tip #4: Exercise Carefully
Exercise is important for dogs with hip dysplasia. However, it's important to choose low-impact exercises that don't put too much strain on their hips, as certain activities can cause the joint cartilage to wear out faster than usual in your dog's hip joints, which can lead to further problems with hip dysplasia.
Some guidelines on dog hip dysplasia exercises:
- Choose low-impact exercises like swimming
- Exercise that's too intense, especially anaerobic exercises like running and jumping during fetch that drain energy stores quicker, can cause hip problems in dogs.
- Regularly exercise in shorter intervals, so your dog avoids overdoing it
- Use caution when throwing frisbees and tennis balls as slips and hyperextensions are most common during those activities.
3 Dog Hip Dysplasia Treatment Options
The condition of hip dysplasia is a painful one, but it doesn't have to be an all-consuming one. As long as you know what to watch out for and can get your dog treatment quickly, it's possible to prevent further damage or even reverse the condition altogether.
And when that’s not pawsible you can rest assured that there are well-known, commonly performed surgeries that can help provide dog hip dysplasia treatment that can leave your pup feeling rejuvenated and spry post-recovery.
Option #1: Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis
An inexpensive, minimally invasive, prophylactic procedure, juvenile pubic symphysiodesis (JPS) is performed on immature dogs at risk of arthritis-related dog hip dysplasia.
In this procedure, the surgeon creates a premature closure of the pubic symphysis through electrocoagulation (which is basically a procedure that uses heat from an electric current to destroy abnormal tissue). When this growth is stopped, a type of rotation occurs in the joint, resulting in better coverage of the femur.
You can expect the following things post-op from this dog hip dysplasia treatment:
- A return to normal activity within two weeks of surgery, but you should avoid strenuous exercise for six weeks after surgery.
- Pain medication and antibiotics are given after surgery to reduce swelling and pain while healing occurs.
- Your vet may also suggest physical therapy exercises to help restore range of motion in their hips so they can walk normally again once healed.
Option #2: Surgery
It's not always possible to treat hip dysplasia in dogs before symptoms start to show. Sometimes, your dog may require surgery later in life if you didn't catch the condition early on.
Good news! These surgeries are extremely common and help your dog get back to their best self after recovery.
The most common dog hip dysplasia treatments for surgeries are outlined in the table below.
Types of Surgery
Double or Triple Pelvic Osteotomy
This procedure involves cutting and repositioning both sides of your dog’s pelvis so that it fits correctly into their joint sockets. This helps them walk more naturally, with less pain or discomfort.
Total Hip Replacement
To restore normal, pain-free hip function, the ball, head of the femur, and socket of your dog's hip joint is removed and replaced with titanium and polyethylene implants.
Femoral Head Ostectomy
This partial hip replacement involves removing the ball part of your dog’s femur joint, eliminating the bone-on-bone contact that is so painful.
Your vet will provide you with more specific post-operative care, but it’s important to remember that activity restriction and wound care will be most important to their recovery. That means plenty of rest and gentle cuddles!
One thing you can add to speed up and ease recovery? Intgericare’s TRI-ACTA H.A. for Pets This product helps your dog’s joints heal healthy and strong, as well as improves joint mobility with the help of hyaluronic acid.
Medical management is a holistic approach to treating hip dysplasia that combines medication with physical therapy, supplements, and other lifestyle management techniques.
Those who choose this option for dog hip dysplasia treatment will typically create an individually designed plan based on the following characteristics and needs with your veterinarian:
Even dogs need a little extra help, sometimes. This is especially true of chronic conditions and dogs recovering from surgery.
Your vet will provide you with a prescription for products like these. Never, ever give your dog a human OTC pain medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen – it’s dangerous and even deadly for dogs!
It’s always good to consider a natural angle for your pup in complement to other therapies. And one natural treatment for HD? Supplements for dog hip dysplasia, of course!
Whether your sweet pup is recovering from dog hip dysplasia treatment surgery or is facing severe symptoms, it’s important to pick them up with care and safety.
You can help your dog with hip dysplasia by making sure they get regular exercise. Although the breed of dog is a factor, most medium-sized dogs are recommended to get at least 30 minutes of exercise daily.
You should consult your vet before starting any new exercises or supplements for your dog’s health. While some supplements may help reduce pain and inflammation caused by hip dysplasia, they may not work as well if they are not combined with proper diet and lifestyle changes such as weight loss and increased activity levels.
With all these great dog hip dysplasia treatment options, you should feel confident that your dog can lead a happy, healthy life. The first step is to get them diagnosed by an expert veterinarian specializing in canine orthopedics. Then, you can work together to devise the best plan for your pooch’s specific situation.