Common Signs of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs to Look Out For

Being a pet parent means that you are responsible for the health and well-being of your animal. Hip dysplasia is a condition that no pet parent wants to see their pup suffer through. Chronic pain can be debilitating for your dog, and you need to be able to spot the signs that your pup needs help.

If you see that your dog no longer hops up into the car with the same sense of excitement and anticipation, or if they are struggling to get up the stairs, these may be signs that they are suffering from hip dysplasia.

signs of hip dysplasia in dogs

There are many treatment options available for your dog if they have hip dysplasia. If you see that your dog is in pain, take them to the veterinarian, and they can help you establish the best course of action. Read this article to discover the signs of hip dysplasia in dogs.

What is Hip Dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia (see video) is an inherited condition that can arise in one or both hip joints, which causes a partially dislocated joint. When parts of the joint do not fit normally, the bones will painfully rub together, and it throws the hip joint off balance.

Over time, there is a degeneration of cartilage, which can cause chronic pain and eventually osteoarthritis in the pup.

What Causes Hip Dysplasia?

Many factors can lead to hip dysplasia in dogs. The leading cause of this condition is genetics. Large breed dogs tend to be more susceptible. Some of the major breeds that commonly develop hip dysplasia include:

  • Great Dane
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Golden Retriever
  • Bernard
  • German Shepherd
  • Rottweiler
  • Newfoundland
  • French Bulldog
  • Chesapeake Bay Retriever
  • Pug
  • Boxer

Pugs and Boxers are among the smaller breeds who are susceptible to hip dysplasia. Selective breeding has rendered the French Bulldog prone to developing the condition.

In addition to genetic disposition, other factors can cause or contribute to hip dysplasia. These factors include:

  • Improper Nutrition
  • Not enough exercise
  • Weight issues or obesity

While hip dysplasia is more frequent in large dog breeds, any size dog can develop the illness. Pet parents need to know the symptoms to get their pup the best treatment for them as soon as possible.

What Are the Common Signs of Hip Dysplasia?

Although hip dysplasia begins when dogs are young, they typically only start to develop clinical signs of the illness in concurrence with osteoarthritis when they get older. The symptoms vary due to the severity of the condition. Some of the common signs of hip dysplasia in dogs include:

  • Reduced activity level
  • Straining to jump into the car or climb upstairs
  • Loss of thigh muscle mass
  • Diminished range of motion
  • Weakness and pain in hind legs
  • Enlarged shoulder muscles
  • Reluctance to rise from sitting or lying position
  • “bunny hopping” when running

Dogs will sometimes try to hide their pain from their humans out of pride. Be mindful of these indicators so you can help your pup if they are in pain.

There is a difference in the symptoms between acute hip dysplasia and chronic hip dysplasia. Acute hip dysplasia typically affects younger dogs.

Once a year or so goes by, chronic hip dysplasia can start to develop. Sometimes it can take many years to become chronic. Once hip dysplasia becomes chronic, it can result in arthritis. It is at this point that the condition progresses and gets worse for your pup.

What Are Treatments for Hip Dysplasia in Dogs?

If hip dysplasia is caught from the onset, it can be manageable. There are many treatment alternatives available to your pup to inhibit the rapid progression of the illness and give your dog some pain relief.

If you see any of the above symptoms in your dog, you need to take them to see your veterinarian as quickly as is feasible. You do not want to wait until the symptoms are causing your pup extreme or debilitating pain.

Below are some treatment options for hip dysplasia. You and your vet can work together to come up with the best treatment plan for your dog.

Weight Loss

If a dog is overweight or obese, it places a lot of pressure on their hips. The additional weight puts a burden on their body and triggers the progression of the condition, which can trigger your dog to have a considerable amount of pain.

Try a specifically formulated dog food and feed them the appropriate amount. Eliminating excess weight is a step in the right direction.


Swimming and other hydrotherapy are good low-impact exercises for dogs with hip dysplasia because they do not require any pressure on the joints. Some of the reasons that swimming is a good exercise for this condition include:

  • Improved joint rotation
  • Improved muscle strength
  • No impact
  • No stress on the joints
  • It is soothing for them
  • Many breeds are natural-born swimmers
  • Helps with muscle building
  • It helps to support a weak or compromised joint

Dogs who utilize swimming as a healing tool have excellent results. They can accomplish more with swimming than they could with any other exercise that is high impact.

There are also many options, like heated hydrotherapy pools and underwater treadmills. Swimming is an ideal exercise for pups with arthritis.

Frequent Short Walks

Find a ground for your dog to walk on that is level and not uphill. Go as slow as your pup wants, and do not force them to overdo it. Keep the walks short, and do not stray far from the car or your house. You can provide treats along the way to lift your pup’s spirits.

Reduction of Inflammation

To reduce your inflammation, your veterinarian may prescribe NSAIDs expressly for dogs. There are also some good anti-inflammatory supplements your dog can try.

Your vet may suggest glucosamine chondroitin or fish oil. Many supplements can aid in protecting the health of your dog’s cartilage and may ease the pain.

Double or Triple Pelvic Osteotomy 

This procedure is typically performed on puppies who are diagnosed with the condition. The pelvic bone This procedure entails:

  • Cutting the pelvic bone
  • Fusing part of the pelvis
  • Rotating the segments

The intention is to assist the ball and socket joint functions to work correctly. The surgery is done at an early age.

Femoral Head Ostectomy

This surgery involves cutting the femoral head of the hip joint to make a false joint. The purpose is to help ease your dog’s pain. This procedure is performed on young and older dogs.

Total Hip Replacement

When a total hip replacement is completed, the entire joint is replaced with an implant, which is the best choice for a full recovery. This surgery is generally performed on older dogs with osteoarthritis.

If You Notice Any Signs of Hip Dysplasia, Contact Your Vet

Hip dysplasia is very painful for your dog. If you get your pup treatment early, they can lead a healthy, productive life.

If you see indications referred to in this article, take your canine to the vet as soon as possible. As a pet parent, you can give your canine companion a chance to recover from the pain they are experiencing.