Puppy Hip Dysplasia: Everything You Need to Know

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Canine hip dysplasia is a genetic condition that manifests with malformed hip joints. The condition may start taking its toll when the puppy is five months old and exerts more severe clinical signs over time as the dog reaches its senior age years.

The condition leads to degenerative joint disease of the hips. Considering the core of the disease is osteoarthritis, the three main concerns are joint pain, limited mobility, and decreased quality of life.

Certain breeds are at higher risk of developing hip dysplasia. In such cases, pet owners must focus on joint health maintenance at an early age.

Can Puppies Get Hip Dysplasia?

Usually, pet owners associate musculoskeletal issues with old age. In practice, things are not so simple. Namely, hip dysplasia can occur in young dogs as little as five months old.

Canine hip dysplasia is a congenital and painful condition that results from irregularly developed hip joints.

For the hind legs to move properly, the head of the femur must fit properly within the pelvic socket (acetabulum). To achieve a normal fit, the ball and socket forming the hip joint should exhibit synchronized growth.

If the ball and socket growth are not synchronized, they will not fit properly, leading to excessive hip joint wear and tear.

In dogs with hip dysplasia, the hips are not the only joints they suffer. Because of compensating, the knee joints are also affected with arthritic changes.

Causes of Hip Dysplasia in Puppies

The main cause of hip dysplasia in dogs is genetics. If both parents are affected, the puppy is twice as likely to inherit the disease. Even if the puppy does not develop hip dysplasia, it will carry the gene and pass it on to its offspring.

Other contributing risk factors are diet and exercise. Feeding a high-calorie diet can lead to unnecessary weight gain and overstress the hip joints. Pups should be fed diets that are appropriate for their age, breed, and size.

Strenuous exercise during intense bone growth can exasperate the likelihood of developing hip dysplasia early on. Excessive jumping, walking on slippery surfaces, and running on pavements are risky physical activities because they have a pounding effect on the hips.

Puppies More Prone to Hip Dysplasia

Basically, all dog breeds can develop hip dysplasia and at any point in their life. Although the clinical signs of hip dysplasia become more apparent over time, the condition is congenital, and it can affect pups as young as five months of age.

As for genetic or breed predispositions, large and giant breed dogs are more likely to develop hip dysplasia and manifest its clinical signs at an early age, probably during puppyhood.

Large breed dogs prone to hip dysplasia include:

  • Labrador Retriever
  • Golden Retriever
  • German Shepherd
  • Akita
  • Weimaraner
  • Bulldogs
  • American Staffordshire terrier

Giant breed dogs prone to hip dysplasia include:

  • Bernese Mountain dog
  • Newfoundland
  • St. Bernard dog
  • Mastiff
  • Great Dane.

Signs and Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia in Puppies

Dogs with hip dysplasia are born with seemingly normal hips. However, as the dog grows, the hip abnormalities result in structural issues.

The symptoms vary greatly. Some young dogs may show no symptoms until the disease progresses, while others will exhibit certain signs even when still young pups.

Usually, hip dysplasia in dogs manifests with the following clinical signs and symptoms:

  • Swiveling of the hips
  • Waddling or overall unsteadiness while moving
  • Bunny hopping gait (running or jumping with both hind legs held together)
  • Clicking or popping sound when walking and running
  • Increased joint laxity in the hips
  • Exercise intolerance and reluctance to move
  • Difficulty going up and down the stairs
  • Difficulty getting up and lying down
  • Limping or lameness (more pronounced after strenuous exercise and prolonged rest).

Diagnosing Hip Dysplasia in Puppies

If you have a giant or large breed dog, it is advisable to take it to the vet’s for hip evaluation before it starts showing clinical signs.

As in any other case, the veterinarian will start with a physical exam and then perform an orthopedic examination. The vet will extend the back legs to check for pain, joint laxity, and the presence of the characteristic popping sound.

To confirm the diagnosis, the veterinarian will order x-rays. The x-rays may show structural abnormalities in one hip or both. Logically, the condition is more severe if both the right and left hip are affected.

It should be noted that your dog will probably be sedated because taking proper x-rays requires a certain body position and specific immobilization.

Based on the examination results and x-ray findings, the veterinarian will explain how to take proper care of your dog’s joints and which treatment option is best suited.

Hip Dysplasia Treatment Options for Puppies

There are many different treatment options for hip dysplasia, but they all have the same goals – decreasing pain and improving mobility. More often than not, to achieve these goals, the veterinarian will recommend combining several treatments.

Natural Supplements

When it comes to natural dog joint supplements, the pet market offers hundreds of products. Not all products are of equal quality. If in doubt about what to choose, talk to your trusted vet.

Glucosamine Chondroitin

The key ingredients in all joint supplements are glucosamine and chondroitin. Glucosamine stimulates cartilage renewal, and chondroitin prevents enzymatic cartilage damage. These two chondroportectants work best when used together in one formula known as glucosamine chondroitin.

Green Lipped Mussel

Green Lipped mussel powder is another potent chodroprotectant rich in glucosamine, chondroitin, fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamin C and E, copper, and zinc. Our Green Lipped mussels powder is additionally enriched with glucosamine, chondroitin, fish oil, MSM, hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, and Boswellia serrata.

Mobility - Green Lipped Mussel Joint Powder
  • This bacon popcorn flavored Honest Paws Joint Powder uses a blend of ingredients that focus on all-encompassing joint health and support.
  • It works to maintain joint mobility, improve cartilage development, and enhance overall bone and joint health.
  • Green lipped mussel extract contains a nutrient-rich blend of natural proteins, minerals and omega fatty acids.

CBD Oil for Dogs with Hip Dysplasia

Pet CBD oil is an excellent supplement for dogs with osteoarthritis because its active cannabinoids have pain-relieving and anti-inflammation properties. You can give your dog pet CBD products in the form of oils, capsules, or chews.

Our Mobility chews contain CBD oil and several chondroprotectants, including glucosamine and chondroitin. The chews are THC-free, completely safe, and practical.

HP Mobility Soft Chews
  • Formulated for Joint Pain and Inflammation
  • Made with Full Spectrum CBD Oil
  • Third Party Tested

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Fatty acids act similarly to meds from the NSAIDs group – they manage both discomfort and inflammation. The best source of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids for dogs is fish oil (ideally salmon or mackerel).

Fish oil is high in calories – something you need to consider if your dog is on a restricted-calorie diet because of its arthritis condition. Ask your vet about the right dosage and terms of use.

Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil
  • Premium Omega 3 Oil rich in natural EPA & DHA
  • Supports Joint Function, Immune & Heart Health
  • Skin and Coat Support for Dogs
  • 15.5 fl oz

Weight Management

It goes without saying that the extra pounds will add extra pressure on the dog’s joints. Therefore dogs with hip dysplasia need strict weight maintenance protocols – diet and exercise plans. Obese dogs need to lose few pounds, and lean dogs need to stay lean.

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are the medication of choice for managing osteoarthritis in dogs because they reduce pain and inflammation. Popular NSAIDs include carprofen, deracoxib, firocoxib, and meloxicam.

Long-term use of NSAIDs can be associated with certain side effects. To avoid unwanted issues, the veterinarian will recommend frequent checkups and regular blood works.

Surgery Options for Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

There are several surgical treatment options for hip dysplasia. Before recommending the right type of surgery, the veterinarian will evaluate many factors, including the dog’s age, breed, the severity of symptoms, and the osteoarthritis advancement within the affected hip joint.

Triple Pelvic Osteotomy (TPLO)

Triple pelvic osteotomy (TPLO) is a specific surgery involving several cuts of the pelvic bone and rotation of the pelvic acetabulum over the head of the femur. Then, a bone plate is used to stabilize the newly formed structure.

TPLO cannot be performed in patients whose x-rays show signs of arthritic changes. Therefore, the surgery is routinely performed in pups less than 12 months of age.

Femoral Head Ostectomy (FHO)

Femoral head ostectomy (FHO) is a surgery involving removing the head and neck of the femur, thus forming a new false joint. The goal of the procedure is the restore painless mobility.

FHO is recommended for smaller dog breeds (less than 50 pounds). After the surgery, the dog must be physically active because ensuring strong muscle mass is vital for stabilizing the false joint.

Total Hip Replacement

Total hip replacement is a surgery in which both the pelvic acetabulum and femoral ball are removed and replaced with synthetic prostheses. The prostheses and the procedure are quite expensive.

Physical Therapy

Physical rehabilitation is an excellent treatment option for dogs with hip dysplasia. The goal of physical therapy is to prevent muscle mass loss and keep the dog in good condition.

There are many different forms – laser therapy, passive range of motion, electrostimulations, balance exercises, and heat therapy. Consult with your veterinarian about which combination would be best for your dog.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese holistic treatment based on inserting fine, sterile needles in specific body points where blood vessels and nerves converge. The needle insertion results in pain relief and consequently – improved overall health and mobility.

Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy is the ideal exercise for dogs with musculoskeletal issues. Hydrotherapy strengthens the legs and builds stronger muscle mass to support the dog without exerting too much pressure on the damaged structures. Swimming and underwater treadmills are the best forms of hydrotherapy for your dog.

Prevention of Canine Hip Dysplasia in Puppies

Some dogs will develop joint problems no matter what. However, following these guidelines can decrease the risk or at least delay the condition’s onset.

Pick a Responsible Breeder

As a general rule of thumb, dogs with genetic issues should not be bred. However, irresponsible dog breeders might disregard this rule. Therefore, finding a responsible and reputable breeder who can provide hip certificates for both parents is necessary.

Healthy Diet

A healthy diet cannot prevent the disease from occurring, but it can delay its onset and decrease the severity of the clinical manifestation. A healthy diet is vital in terms of body weight management as the excess weight will put too much pressure on the musculoskeletal structures.

Appropriate Exercise

Talk to your veterinarian and consult which exercises are suitable for your dog’s condition and which need to be avoided. It may seem counteractive to exercise a dog with limited mobility, but in the long term, regular exercise will improve the dog’s condition, strengthen the musculoskeletal structures, and prevent obesity.

Start Natural Supplements Early

Joint supplements are beneficial for young dogs, especially during the intense growth phases. In certain dog breeds, it is advisable to start using supplements during puppyhood. There are many different supplements available on the market – consult with your veterinarian in terms of type and dose.

Limit Damaging Movements

Jumping and landing on the rear legs, walking on slippery surfaces, running on pavements are considered damaging movements. If your dog belongs to a predisposed breed, it is advisable to limit these movements – install pet ramps for getting on and off furniture and cover the floors in your house.

Our Final Thoughts: Hip Dysplasia on Puppies

Educating the pet owners about the risk factors, predispositions, and prevention options can help decrease the prevalence of hip dysplasia among dogs or delay its onset and decrease the severity of the clinical manifestation.

Managing canine hip dysplasia requires a multimodal approach, carrying for the dog’s joints from an early age, and close collaboration between owners and veterinarians.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the signs of hip dysplasia in puppies?

In pets, the most common signs and symptoms include – hip-swiveling, bunny hopping, limping, reluctance to move, difficulty jumping, climbing, and standing up or laying down.

Can a puppy have hip dysplasia?

Yes, five months of age is the earliest point at which a puppy can start exhibiting clinical signs. However, some pups may not develop any signs until the condition progresses.

Can hip dysplasia be cured in puppies?

As a specific form of degenerative joint disease, it cannot be cured. However, there are ways of decreasing your dog’s pain, increasing its mobility, and improving the overall quality of life.

How long can a dog live with hip dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia in dogs is not a lethal condition. Many dogs can live long and relatively normal lives despite their diagnosis as long as the pain is properly managed.