How Does Hip Dysplasia Affect Sitting for Dogs?

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Just like in humans, sitting is one of the first positions learned in dogs. During training, most trainers will start with getting the dog to sit before anything else.

It should therefore come easily and naturally to a dog to not only sit but also do it right. In a normal dog, sitting properly will be no issue. The same is not true for dogs with hip dysplasia.

Hip dysplasia, especially in its late stages can become a huge burden to your dog. As the hips become more damaged and inflamed, they become too painful to rest on. For this reason, your dog will start to look for other ways to position herself to minimize the pressure on her hind legs and hips.

One of the sitting positions that puts the least pressure on the hips is the lazy dog sit.

Signs of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

  • Limping or lameness
  • Bunny hopping gait
  • Clicking sound in the hip joint as the dog moves
  • Mobility issues for example your dog might find it difficult to go up the stairs or get on her bed
  • Loss of muscle mass especially in the hind legs
  • Reduced willingness to exercise
  • Lazy dog sit
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Can Your Dog’s Sitting Position be a Sign of Hip Dysplasia?

Yes, an abnormal sitting posture can be a sign of hip dysplasia.

As the hips become more painful, your dog will look for positions that inflict the least pressure on her hips. Certain sleeping and sitting positions rely too much on the hips for support. Such positions will become too uncomfortable for your dog.

Eventually, your dog is going to find a position that works for them and it is very likely that the position will be unusual.

You should know that a dog changing her sitting position once or twice is not a problem. Just like you would find yourself sitting unusually sometimes while watching TV, a dog can also get adventurous with her posture.

Your dog’s sitting position should only worry you if it has constantly been off, say for a week or so.

The Puppy Sit

If you have been around a baby, you know she is not spending her day sitting upright. Similar to a human toddler, puppies usually sit in very unusual positions.

What This Sitting Position Looks Like

In a puppy sit, the puppy will have her legs to one side while she rests on one side of her hips. The puppy then flops into a sloppy posture.

When it’s an Issue

In puppies, a puppy sit is usually no cause for concern. As the name suggests, the sit is a puppy sit. If you notice that your puppy is sitting like this, you should not worry unless there is an indication of another problem.

For example, if your puppy in addition to her puppy sit has a limp, that is a cause for worry. You should then see a vet as soon as possible.

What it’s Telling You About Your Dog

In puppies, the puppy sit is not an indication of anything. That is just how puppies sit. Puppies sit that way simply because of their underdeveloped skeletal structure.

In puppies, skeletal tissues like bones, tendons, muscles, and ligaments are not fully formed therefore allow so many variations of movement. You may also notice that your puppy’s walk and/run are just as clumsy and sloppy as her sit.

As your puppy grows, the bones and other skeletal tissues will eventually become stronger and sturdier allowing more coordinated movement.

Another reason your puppy may be sluggish in her posture is simple ignorance. Your untrained puppy may be unaware of what position is best for her and take on what feels most natural.

What to Do Next

There is no need for you to intervene if your puppy has a puppy sit. It is completely normal. You should only worry about your puppy’s sit if there’s another indication of trouble.

You should also visit the vet if you see no improvement in your puppy’s posture as she grows. Depending on the breed your puppy should start sitting normally at about 1 to 2 years of age.

The Lazy Sit

The puppy sit is cute and adorable in puppies. More importantly, it is completely normal. In adult dogs, not so much. In adult dogs, the puppy sit takes on not-so-flattering names like the lazy sit, the floppy sit, the sloppy sit, or the frog sit.

What This Sitting Position Looks Like

The lazy sit is very similar to the puppy sit. The only difference between the two is that it is called a lazy sit in more mature dogs.

When your dog takes on a lazy sit, she will sit with both legs to one side and flop onto her hip. The lazy sit has other variations. Sometimes, a dog will sit with a leg on each side but instead of the legs being under the hips, they will be splayed out.

When it’s an Issue

A lazy sit in a mature dog should always be a cause for concern. The first time you notice your dog in a lazy sit, there may be no need for alarm. Sometimes your dog is just sitting on her hip and that’s it.

If your dog maintains the lazy sit, then you should definitely be concerned. As soon as you notice your dog has maintained a lazy sit for a couple of days, start by inspecting your dog’s body to check for any physical injury.

Whether you find a physical injury or not, see your veterinarian as soon as possible.

What it’s Telling You About Your Dog

A lazy sit can be a sign of many different conditions. Most of the conditions that cause a lazy sit affect the hips or hind legs. Canine hip dysplasia is one of the most common causes of a lazy sit.

Hip dysplasia in dogs gradually causes the hip joints to deteriorate in strength and mobility. As the hip joints get weaker, they become too painful for the dog to sit on.

Canine hip dysplasia is not the only cause of a lazy sit. There are several other conditions that cause dogs to sit abnormally. Such conditions include:

  • Arthritis. Hip dysplasia can result in arthritis in its later stages. Arthritis can also arise on its own without hip dysplasia.
  • Luxating patella. This is a condition that causes the patella or knee cap to move out of its normal location. It is common among small dog breeds and causes mobility and posture issues one of which is the lazy sit.
  • Infection of the anal gland
  • Spinal problems or injuries
  • Physical trauma for example getting hit by a car

What to Do Next

After you notice a lazy sit in your dog, seek the help of a qualified veterinarian. It is very important to seek treatment early on in mobility diseases. This is because such diseases tend to be degenerative meaning that they get worse over time.

To increase your dog’s chances of recovery, see a vet immediately.

At the vet, your dog will most likely first be inspected for physical signs like swelling, bruising, or loss of muscle mass. The vet may have some x rays done to see more clearly what could be wrong with the dog.

If it is indeed hip dysplasia, your vet will provide you with the necessary medication and instructions for your dog.

How should Dogs Sit?

To fully grasp the concept of an abnormal sitting position, we must first understand how a dog would normally sit. The way a normal dog sits is nearly the same in all dogs regardless of breed. Only puppies and sick dogs have different ways of sitting.

In a normal healthy dog, the sitting posture should look as follows:

  • The dog’s spine should be upright
  • Both knees should be to the side
  • The feet should be nicely tucked underneath the knees

Promoting Healthy Joints in Dogs

As you may already know, joint health has a lot to do with genetics and breed type. For example, larger breeds have a much higher chance of getting hip dysplasia while smaller breeds have a higher risk of a luxating patella. Dogs whose parents had certain conditions are more likely to get those conditions as well.

This is true but it does not mean that your dog’s joint health completely lies in the hands of fate. There is so much you can do to protect your dog from acquiring joint issues regardless of their risk factors.

Even if your dog were to actually get joint issues, you can still help her live a fairly normal life by implementing certain tips.

Appropriate Exercise

Physical exercise is a very important factor in skeletal health and body health in general. Physical exercise is important for the growth and strengthening of strong bones and muscles.

Physical exercise is also great for improving and maintaining the mobility of joints. Dogs that exercise regularly are less likely to fall victim to mobility diseases and illnesses in general. Even if a physically fit dog were to get ill, she is more likely to handle the illness much better than a sedentary dog.

Encourage your dog to spend some time outside playing about. Take her on walks regularly to keep her fit and strong. If your dog already has mobility issues, do not push her to do more exercises than she can handle. Too much exercise will do more harm than good.

Healthy Diet

Diet affects every single aspect of health including joint health. When choosing food for your dog, ensure to choose the best food you can get. Your dog should eat a varied diet rich in all nutrients.

For joint health, nutrients that support bone health like vitamin D and calcium are especially important for your dog. If your dog is already ill, anti-inflammatory nutrients like vitamin C and omega-3 fatty acids can be of great benefit.

Incorporate Supplements Early

It is a common practice among dog owners to wait for an illness to put their dogs on supplements. This is not the best approach. It can be extremely difficult to meet all your dog’s nutrient needs from diet alone. Some nutrients are simply difficult to find in common foods.

For better health, there are two classes of nutrients that you should consider; nutritional supplements and natural supplements.

Nutritional supplements are supplements made to help us reach our nutrient needs. They contain nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids.

Natural supplements are made from foods usually herbs that have a high nutrient content like ginger and turmeric. Natural supplements are high in health-promoting compounds like antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.

Our Final Thoughts

Hip dysplasia can be difficult to deal with and can be very painful but with the right diet, exercise, and treatment, dogs can live a full happy life even with hip dysplasia.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the first signs of hip dysplasia in dogs?

Primary signs of hip dysplasia in dogs are usually mobility issues like limping or lameness. Dogs with hip dysplasia will also find it difficult to go up the stairs, get into cars, get onto their beds, and so on.

Is it OK to walk a dog with hip dysplasia?

Yes, it is Ok to walk a dog with hip dysplasia. In fact, it may be of great benefit to walk a dog with hip dysplasia. You should, however, make sure not to strain your dog on your walk.

What happens if hip dysplasia is left untreated in dogs?

If left untreated, hip dysplasia can cause damage to the hip joints. In its later stages, it may cause arthritis in the hip joints.