What is Hip Dysplasia in dogs?

Hip Dysplasia is a genetic disorder affected by environmental conditions such as overfeeding and excessive exercise which cause a gradual abnormal formation (malformation) of the hip joints or causes loose fitting joints. A dog might be born with this disorder or it may develop it later in life.

In a normal healthy hip joint the “head” of the femur (thigh bone) fits comfortably into the hip socket. There is a layer of cartilage on the femur head which acts as a smooth barrier to prevent bone-on-bone grinding. The cartilage also helps to ease joint motion.

When the femoral head does not fit deep and comfortably into the hip socket the joints will bump together as the dog walks causing damage to the cartilage. In a malformed hip joint, the uneven surface causes excessive wear to the cartilage on the femur head (ball joint). The body tries to repair itself by adding more cartilage to the damaged area but is not able to repair fast enough as the cartilage is broken down faster that it can be replaced. Gradually area around the hip joint will become inflamed which can further develop into osteoarthritis, lameness and severe pain.

Larger breeds of dogs such as Great Danes, Saint Bernard’s and Retrievers tend to suffer more from Hip Dysplasia than the smaller breeds as they carry more weight on their hips.

Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia:

-Lameness of the hind legs
-Difficulty standing up and lying down
-Short strides
-Falling down when urinating or defecating
-Dog walks with a limp or swaying gait

Treatments for Hip Dysplasia in Dogs:

Depending on how developed the dysplasia is and on the age of the dog there are different treatments available.

If the dog is still very mobile and shows early stages of the condition, medication much the same for arthritis can be administered for the pain and inflammation. The dog may be put on a special diet to lose weight and be given supplements to help repair the already damaged cartilage in the joints.

In more severe cases surgery may be required. There are three types of procedures also depending on the severity of the condition.

Femoral Head Osteotomy (FHO) is the procedure where the damaged femoral head is totally removed. The femur bone is fitted into the hip socket to create a new joint. A layer of scar tissue gradually develops in the joint and helps as a barrier to prevent bone-on-bone grinding.
For more information on FHO “Click Here”.

Triple Pelvic Osteotomy (TPO) is another surgical procedure normally done on younger dogs suffering from hip dysplasia. Three cuts are made on the pelvis around the hip joint. The hip socket is then rotated until the femur head fits deep enough into the socket.

As a last resort a Total Hip Replacement (THR) can be done. The hips socket and ball joint are replaced with plastic or stainless steel sockets and joints. This can be done to one side or both sides of the hip.

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All content in this blog is based purely on research done with the aim of giving helpful advice and information to the owners of dogs.

I am not a qualified vet or dog trainer so please use this site as a reference and not as a professional opinion.