Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is the abnormal development or degeneration of the hip joint with regards to pelvis and femur size or shape. The problem frequently coincides with Osteoarthritis. Most often, pet owners don’t notice the subtle differences in their pet’s hips because they appear normal, while internally, they develop differently.

Being one of the most common skeletal diseases among dogs, hip dysplasia usually affects large and giant breeds. Though it is less common in cats, hip dysplasia is relatively common among Persian cats and Maine Coons. It can affect both male and female and is believed to be a genetically inherited disease. For this reason, we do not recommend breeding pets that have been positively diagnosed with hip dysplasia, nor do we recommend breeding any parent whose offspring has received a positive diagnosis, as the disease is likely to reoccur within each litter.

Symptoms of hip dysplasia: 

  • Bunny hops when running or climbing stairs
  • Clicking noise coming from hips during movement
  • Narrow stance of hind legs
  • Hip area is sensitive to touch
  • Reluctant to get up
  • Scoots across floors
  • Stiffness when standing up from a resting position, or increased stiffness in the morning and after naps
  • Sways when walking
  • Walks with a limp

Pets that grow at a rapid pace or are of predisposed breeds are at an increased risk for hip dysplasia. We would like owners to pay special attention to these pets, especially during their early and elderly years.

How is hip dysplasia diagnosed?

If you suspect your pet might have hip dysplasia, you should first schedule an evaluation. During the exam, the veterinarian will perform a physical assessment complete with a urinalysis and blood work. X-rays are also performed to accurately diagnose the disease. An exact diagnosis requires precise positioning of the hips by our skilled radiography technicians.

After a positive diagnosis, the veterinarian will discuss appropriate treatment options with you. While hip dysplasia is not curable, there are surgical and non-surgical treatment methods that can help reduce patient discomfort and improve quality of life.

Treating hip dysplasia

Both surgical and non-surgical treatment methods for hip dysplasia are intended to lessen the discomfort caused by hip dysplasia.

Non-surgical: Some non-surgical treatment options include weight management, nutritional supplements, and anti-inflammatories. Often, obese hip dysplasia sufferers have increased pressure placed on their joints due to excess weight. After restricting food and implementing light exercise, weight loss can reduce the burden placed on the joints, allowing some relief. Natural supplements that include glucosamine can help a dog’s cartilage and relieve pain, especially when combined with an anti-inflammatory. While liver toxicity is always a concern, check-up exams should be maintained to monitor the levels of supplements.

Surgical: There are several femur and hip modification surgeries that can be recommended for severe cases of hip dysplasia. The most common type of surgery recommended and performed, which also has the highest rate of success, is total hip replacement surgery. Performed similarly in humans, this surgery involves implanting a prosthetic, functional joint. With this surgery, most pets return to a healthy, high-activity status post-surgery.

Keep in mind that a pet with hip dysplasia experiences extreme discomfort in their hind legs, so exercise and activity should never be too rigorous. While treatment is intended to help relieve pain, said relief is not intended to allow for rough-housing or performing strenuous activities. For all methods of treatment, follow-up appointments are recommended, and in some cases required, in order to monitor healing and treatment.

If you have any questions about hip dysplasia or the various treatments we offer, please contact our office.



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