Dog Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia in dogs is a common inherited skeletal condition where the Femoral Head (Ball) and Acetabulum (Socket) of the hip do not properly meet one another; this results in laxity of the hip joint and, over time, arthritis. Hip Dysplasia is common in large breed dogs but can also occur, albeit less frequently, in smaller breed dogs and cats.

Canine Dysplasia

The hip joint functions as a ball and socket joint. The hallmark of Hip Dysplasia is laxity in this joint. Over time, forces acting on these bones to counteract the instability will lead to small, microscopic fractures and resulting osteoarthritis. It is the most common cause of arthritis in the hipbone of a dog.

There are several overlapping causes which can lead to this impairment, however, genetic predisposition is thought to play the largest role. OFA lists the Bulldog as the highest percentage of dysplastic hips evaluated, followed by the Pug, Dogue de Bordeaux, and Neapolitan Mastiff. Other factors besides genetics that may contribute to Hip Dysplasia are nutrition, growth rate, exercise, muscle mass, and obesity.


This condition’s symptoms vary and are largely based on the severity of joint laxity, inflammation, and how far along the disease has progressed. Indications of hip dysplasia can include:

  • Decreased activity
  • Difficulty rising
  • Bunny hopping or swaying
  • Reluctance to run or jump, especially after exercise
  • Loss of muscles in the hind limbs


All dogs suspected of having Hip Dysplasia should undergo a thorough physical examination by a Veterinarian. Your

veterinarian can look for certain signs on palpation of the hips, evaluation of your dog’s gait, and overall presentation. After a thorough Physical Examination, your veterinarian will likely recommend radiography, as this remains the hallmark diagnostic tool for both diagnosis and early age screening.

Treatment for Dog Hip Dysplasia

There are many treatment options for pets who are suffering from hip dysplasia and resulting osteoarthritis. These options range from lifestyle modifications to more invasive treatments such as surgery. In mildly symptomatic cases, your veterinarian might recommend medical management with NSAIDs to Joint Supplements. Please do not give your pet human NSAIDs if you suspect Hip Dysplasia. Other less traditional treatment options include laser therapy and even acupuncture. In addition, physical therapy and weight reduction strategies may also be beneficial. In more severe cases of hip dysplasia, surgery might be the most suitable option.

Hip Dysplasia is a common condition affecting dogs. The disease affects your dog’s ability to run, play, and lead an active life. If you suspect your pet has Hip Dysplasia, an appointment with a member of our veterinary team is the first step towards getting your pet some relief and hopefully helping them back to his or her energetic, playful ways.