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Is there a Cure for Hip Dysplasia in Dogs? Your Question Answered

Veterinarians.org Team

By

Medically reviewed by

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Hip Dysplasia is one of the most terrifying diagnoses for a dog owner. When you think of joint problems, you may assume that it is a problem reserved for old or very large dogs. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Even though it is true that canine hip dysplasia affects certain types of dogs more, it can be found in both small and young dogs.

Canine hip dysplasia is one of the most researched and studied conditions in pets. However, there still remains some confusion around the disease up to today. For now, the best approach is to protect your dog from acquiring the disease.

In dogs that get it, the process of treatment and cure can be either smooth or daunting depending on many different factors.

What is Canine Hip Dysplasia?

Canine hip dysplasia (CHD) is a degenerative joint disease caused by a malformation at the ball and socket joint at the hip. For normal hip function, the head of the femur (thigh bone) should fit into a socket on the pelvis (hip bone).

In hip dysplasia, the fit between the two joints is compromised by an abnormal growth on either of the bones. This causes the bones to rub against each other at the joint as the dog moves.

CHD may affect only one hip socket or both, a condition known as bilateral hip dysplasia.

What Causes Dog Hip Dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Genetics

Genetics play a very big role in hip dysplasia. Dogs whose parents had hip dysplasia have a very high risk of getting the disease as well. The genetic nature of the condition makes certain breeds of dogs more susceptible to it.

Some of the dog breeds with a higher likelihood of getting hip dysplasia include German shepherds, Great Danes, Pugs, Bulldogs, Rottweilers, Boxers, Labradors, and Basset Hounds. As you may be able to tell, most of the breeds prone to getting hip dysplasia are large breeds.

Small breeds are, however, not completely immune to the condition.

Environmental Factors

Even though the chances of getting hip dysplasia are heavily influenced by genetics, a dog’s environment can also be a risk factor. Some of the environmental factors that influence the risk of developing hip dysplasia include:

Diet

The food your dog eats can either cause or prevent diseases. Good quality nutritious food will help protect your dog from all kinds of diseases. A bad diet, on the other hand, will increase your dog’s chances of acquiring diseases.

To reduce the risk of hip dysplasia, your dog’s diet has to be rich in all nutrients particularly those that support bone health. Two nutrients play a particularly large role in the development of healthy bones; calcium and vitamin D.

Physical exercise

In addition to a good diet, your dog should get adequate physical exercise to minimize her risk of hip dysplasia and other diseases. You should allow your dog to get physical exercise every day. Take her on walks or play some outdoor games with her.

Ensure not to strain your dog during physical activity. Getting too much exercise will exert excess pressure on your dog’s joints and instead increase her risk for hip dysplasia. If you notice your dog start to get tired, take a break or stop completely.

Weight

The reason large breed dogs are more prone to hip dysplasia is because of their heavyweight. Excess body weight puts excess pressure on the joints increasing your dog’s risk for joint issues such as hip dysplasia.

Dogs that are overweight should be encouraged to lose weight to reduce the pressure they put on their joints. A good diet and adequate body exercise should be adequate in helping your dog stay at a healthy weight.

Signs and Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia

As a dog owner, it very important to know the signs that might indicate hip dysplasia in your dog. Some of the signs and symptoms of hip dysplasia in dogs include:

  • Limping or lameness
  • Reduced physical activity
  • Reduced mobility
  • Popping sound at the hip joint when the dog moves
  • A walking gait that looks like a bunny hop
  • Joint pain
  • A lazy or puppy sit
  • Loss of muscle mass in the dog’s hind legs

At the first sight of any of the above signs, you should consult your vet immediately. Mobility diseases like hip dysplasia are degenerative diseases. This means that they get worse as time goes on especially without treatment.

Diagnosing Dog Hip Dysplasia 

You should visit the vet the moment you suspect that your dog might have hip dysplasia. Diagnosing dogs hip dysplasia usually starts with a physical examination.

During the physical examination, the vet will inspect your dog’s body for any physical signs like muscle loss and swelling. He may also lightly press at the dogs hips to check for pain. Next, the vet might check for joint mobility by moving the leg in different directions.

If it is not yet confirmed, your vet will x-ray your dog. X-rays are the most certain way of confirming hip dysplasia in a dog. After all or some of these examinations, your vet should be able to tell if your dog has hip dysplasia or not.

Can You Cure Hip Dysplasia in Dogs?

Yes, hip dysplasia in dogs can be cured. Dog hip dysplasia surgery is the only sure way of curing hip dysplasia in dogs.

Three types of surgery have proven effective in curing hip dysplasia:

Double or Triple Pelvic Osteotomy

A hip osteotomy is done on very young puppies that show early signs of developing mild hip dysplasia. During the procedure, cuts are made on the pelvic bone to allow it to rotate. Two cuts are made during a double pelvic osteotomy (DPO) while three cuts are made during a triple pelvic osteotomy (TPO).

The pelvic bone is rotated and stabilized so that it can properly cover the ball of the femur. All this is done to reduce joint laxity (joint looseness) and improve the way the joint fits together.

A pelvic osteotomy can only be done in the early stages of hip dysplasia before the appearance of arthritis. Once arthritis develops, the procedure can no longer be performed. Two pelvic osteotomies can be done at the same time for both your dog’s hip joints but it is generally recommended that they are done four to six weeks apart.

Femoral Head Ostectomy

A femoral head osteotomy sometimes known as a femoral head and neck ostectomy is a procedure done to improve dysfunctional hips in pets. During the procedure, the ball portion of the femur is removed completely. Sometimes the area below the ball (neck of the femur) is also removed which is why it is sometimes called a head and neck osteotomy.

The surgery, therefore, eliminates the lower half of the hip joint. Following the procedure the body tries to recreate the joint but instead of bone tissue, it is made of cartilage and scar tissue.

This procedure is recommended for small dogs but can also be done on larger dogs. This is because larger dogs need a sturdier joint to support their weight.

Total Hip Replacement surgery

During a total hip replacement, the entire hip joint is removed and replaced with an implant. Among all procedures for treating hip dysplasia in dogs, a total hip replacement is the only sure way to cure the condition.

The socket of the hip bone and ball of the femur are replaced with artificial fillings made from strong materials like polyethylene, titanium, and cement. Your pet’s surgeon will help you determine what material is best for your dog.

How to Prevent and Treat Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

After diagnosing hip dysplasia in your dog, you should not lose all hope. There are many treatments that can help your dog continue with her life normally even if she has hip dysplasia. With careful treatment and management, your dog should be able to live a fairly normal life after her diagnosis. Some of the treatments that may help your dog’s hip dysplasia include:

Weight loss

If an overweight dog gets hip dysplasia, weight loss should be one of the first forms of therapy during treatment. Even if an overweight dog is put on other forms of treatment, the excess weight will stand in the way of her progress.

To promote weight loss, your dog will have to be put on a low-calorie diet and a good exercise regimen. Ensure to consult with a qualified nutrition expert and vet before putting your dog on a calorie-restricted diet.

Physical Exercise

It is important for a dog to continue getting adequate amounts of physical exercise even after a hip dysplasia diagnosis. Exercise is important for maintaining good skeletal health and joint mobility. Physical exercise will also help overweight dogs lose extra weight and promote recovery.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is one of the most effective forms of treatment for dogs with mobility diseases. During physiotherapy, no medication is given. Instead, the practitioner touches and moves the dog to improve her skeletal strength and function.

Massage is also a form of physical therapy. A massage can help your dog’s hip dysplasia by relieving your dog’s pain and promoting blood circulation at the affected joint.

Finally, your dog can also benefit from hydrotherapy a type of physical therapy performed underwater.

Hip Joint Supplements

You may do your best to feed your dog but it can be difficult to get some nutrients as they are needed. For such nutrients, it is highly recommended to supplement them in your dog’s diet.

For hip dysplasia, calcium and vitamin D supplementation may be of great help as they improve bone health and strength. Anti-inflammatory nutrients like Omega-3 fatty acids may also be of help as they can help relieve inflammation at the joints.

In addition to these nutrients, supplements made especially for joints can help relieve some hip dysplasia symptoms. Such supplements include:

  • Glucosamine
  • Chondroitin
  • MSM

The research on the efficacy of these joint supplements is still inadequate but positive results have been reported in some dogs. It is advisable to give both glucosamine and chondroitin together as they have a synergistic effect on each other.

Fortunately, most joint supplement brands include all three of these compounds in their product so you do not have to give them separately.

The Prognosis for Dogs with Hip Dysplasia 

The prognosis of hip dysplasia is good if detected early.

Dog owners should closely watch high-risk breeds to reduce their chances of developing severe hip dysplasia.

Our Final Thoughts

Hip dysplasia is a complex disease that mostly affects large breed dogs. Some of the signs and symptoms of the condition include limping, popping sound at the hips, bunny hopping gait, reduced physical exercise, and a puppy sit in mature dogs.

You can treat and prevent hip dysplasia in your dog by promoting a healthy lifestyle. For example, you should provide a healthy diet, encourage physical exercise, and give supplements.

Hip dysplasia can only be cured through surgery. Other forms of treatment like physiotherapy are useful for delaying the condition’s progression but not curing it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can hip dysplasia be cured in dogs?

Yes, hip dysplasia can be cured in dogs through surgery. The most effective surgeries for hip dysplasia are triple or double pelvic osteotomy, femoral head osteotomy, and total hip replacement.

How much does it cost to fix hip dysplasia in dogs?

A surgery to fix a dog’s hips can cost anywhere between $1000 t0 $3000. You should consider getting a good insurance plan for your dog especially if she is a high-risk breed.

What is the best treatment for hip dysplasia in dogs?

The most effective treatment for hip dysplasia is surgery. Other forms of treatment like supplements, exercise, ad physiotherapy only work to delay the progression of the disease.

How can I treat my dog’s hip dysplasia naturally?

Natural treatments for hip dysplasia include physical exercise, a good diet, physiotherapy, massage, acupuncture, and CBD oils.