Hip Dysplasia in Dogs, Causes, Signs, Diagnosis, Treatment, Home Remedies, Surgery

Hip Dysplasia in Dogs
Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Hip dysplasia in dogs is the abnormal formation of the socket of the hip. As a result, the dog gets painful arthritis, crippling lameness and has trouble walking. This is very uncomfortable for your dog. So to get your dog in a comfortable, healthy condition here is what you need to learn on the causes, symptoms, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of Canine hip dysplasia (CHD).

Classification of Canine Hip Dysplasia

The hip joint is comprised of the ball, socket, ligament, joint capsule, and tendons. Canine hip dysplasia is the abnormal formation of the dog’s hip joint structure. Which means the hip socket (acetabulum) is in the wrong position to take in the ball (femoral head).

Or the hip joint is in the wrong shape, leading to a hip joint that grinds and rubs rather than sliding smoothly.

Classification of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs
Classification of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

There is a way to measure the degree and severity of your dog’s CHD, although there is not one but four familiar ways to keep score of HD in dogs which may vary.

The FCI, OFA, SV, BVA scoring mode is the most commonly used around the world.

How vets rank the health of hip and extent of the hip dysplasia;

(Fédération Cynologique Internationale) FCI ( Orthopaedic Foundation for Animals)OFA (German Shepherds) SV (British Veterinary Association)BVA 
A-1 No sign of dysplasia EXCELLENT Free 0
A-2 GOOD 1–3
B-1 Transitional case GOOD Suspicious 4–6
B-2 FAIR 7–8
C-1 Mild case BORDERLINE Slight presence 9–18
E-1 Severe Serious Serious >30

What they mean;

Excellent and Good

The femoral head and the acetabulum fit well with minimal joint space which is narrow and even. The acetabular rim appears slightly sharp and rounded. The Norberg angle is about 105°.

Mild case

In this case, the Norberg angle is about 100°. The joint space has increased, the cranial-lateral acetabular rim is more flattened, and joint ligaments develop tear and stretch. All these contribute to the reduction of hip joint stability.


Arthritis changes are pretty much evident. Norberg angle is more than 90°, flattened craniolateral acetabular rim, rounded femur slightly rest in the acetabula, and there are signs of osteoarthritis.

Severe or Serious case

Norberg angle is less than 90°; the head of the femur is dislocated from acetabula. The femoral head is deformed complete flattened craniolateral acetabular rim.

The purpose of this is to enable proper treatment and care of your dog, and also helps to employ prevention measures through breeding of dogs with different scores so as to try to minimize hip dysplasia inheritance.

Common Breeds Affected by Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Some dog breeds are more affected by hip dysplasia than others. According to studies certain large breed dogs or overweight dogs are more likely get to CDH than small breeds like Chihuahua, Japanese terrier or Norwich Terrier.

Here are dogs most prone to hip dysplasia:

  • Rottweiler
  • Golden Retrievers
  • German Shepherds
  • Japanese Akita
  • Samoyed
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Saint Bernards
  • Old English Sheepdog
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • Newfoundland

Causes of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

There are nutritional, environmental and genetic factors that contribute to the development of canine hip dysplasia. As a hereditary disease, Canine hip dysplasia develops with time. Some other factors influence the progress and development of the skeletal disease. Here are some of them:

Genetic or Hereditary

Some dogs are born with mild form Canine hip dysplasia, which develops over time. This leads to laxity of the joint muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues. It may also result in abnormality of the joint structure.

Environmental factors

Improper diet and nutritional factors can influence rapid weight gain and obesity. This factor heavily contributes to the development of hip dysplasia in dogs.

Signs and Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Clinical evidence of canine hip dysplasia can include the dog having difficulty climbing stairs, squatting to urinate or when the dog is getting up. Hip dysplasia symptoms in dogs can start as early as six months after the dog is born or later in life when the dog is several years old. It is not predictable.

The pain the dog feels doesn’t correlate with the progress of the disease. In some cases, dogs with a mild case of hip dysplasia might feel more pain than dogs with a severe case of hip dysplasia. So symptoms, the age of the dog and severity of the CHD are not linked which means that a dog can have HD at an early age but the symptoms start showing very late when the dog is older.

Symptoms of CDH depend on the degree of the acetabulum and femoral head joint looseness or joint inflammation. It also depends on joint muscles and ligaments laxity even duration and degeneration present.

Here what to watch for:

  • Hind leg lameness.
  • Exercise intolerance.
  • Reluctant to touch or comfort.
  • Limping/Bunny hopping when the dog is climbing places especially when going upstairs.
  • The Gait appears wobbly.
  • Reluctance to run, climb or jump places.
  • The dog has a narrow stance, where they stand with their hind legs close together.
  • Difficulty when attempting to get up from lying down.
  • Dog shifts weight from back end to the front by sitting in frog position to avoid pain on the hip.
  • Pain when touched.
  • Development of aggressive behavior.
  • The dog Sways and staggers when walking because of poor coordination between hind legs and front legs.
  • Short strides when walking.
  • The dog shifts weight from one leg to the other leg when standing to ride of being in pain or being uncomfortable.
  • Later onset of Arthritis.

If you see your dog has these following signs, it’s more likely he/she has hip dysplasia. However, you need to take your dog to a vet for a better and more accurate diagnosis.

Take note and keep a record of the symptoms that your dog presents with. Present them to your vet while he’s taking the history. It might help a lot.


Clinical signs can’t be used entirely for diagnosis because they can be confused with rear leg injuries or limb born fracture. This shows that even if the dog has no symptoms of hip dysplasia, but the radiographic evidence demonstrated that it has hip dysplasia then it’s concluded and proven without a doubt that the dog has CHD.

A radiograph of a dog with Canine Hip Dysplasia
A radiograph of a dog with Canine Hip Dysplasia

The tests undertaken by the vet include physical examination, manual test on the dog’s hip and an X-ray which is done to diagnose your pet fully. Physical test includes:

  • CBC, Complete Blood Count
  • Urinalysis
  • Blood chemical profile
  • An electrolyte panel
  • Checking the dogs hip, its body motion
  • Whether it has arthritis

The history of the dog is also important, parent’s history, any injury incidents, the onset of symptoms and the dog’s health history.

Radiographs/x-rays are the method that brings accurate results to fully diagnose the dog of having hip dysplasia. Only a certified Radiologist is allowed to perform the exam, conclude the diagnosis and highlight arthritis association.

Treatment of Canine Hip Dysplasia

Treatment of Canine hip dysplasia falls under two categories, surgical treatment and conservatory therapy (medical and physical therapy). When choosing what type of therapy to use for CHD, the vet looks at factors such as the age of the dog, the degree of hip dysplasia and the size of the dog.

Harness for Dogs with Hip Dysplasia
Harness for Dogs with Hip Dysplasia

Usually, medical and physical therapy is used. Surgery is made an option when the condition is severe or if requested by the dog owner. Medical and physical therapy

Conservatory therapy is used to contain the disease. It helps to relieve the dog from pain and also give it stability by giving it more strength. Conservatory measures help the dog to get used to the situation.

Exercise restrictions

Swimming is the best type of exercise for a dog with hip dysplasia it minimizes the pressure and tension of the hip. Leash walking, treadmill walking, and slow jogging are also good training activities. Exercise should be a daily factor and depend on the severity of the dysplasia.


The vet should teach you ways in which you can massage the dog to relieve tension and promote the hip joint right range of motion.

Pain management and anti-inflammatory medication

Several pain relievers ease the pain while others reduce inflammation due to hip dysplasia. They include:

  • Adequan
  • Aspirin
  • Cosequin
  • Naproxen
  • Phenylbutazone

Weight management

For an overweight dog, keep a strict diet that helps regain healthy or ideal weight. This will reduce the tension and pressure applied to the hip joint due to extra weight.

Note that weight management does not get rid of hip dysplasia. It only tries to give your dog a normal life by keeping the disease in check.

Surgical treatment

This is recommended for young dogs and older dogs with severe cases of hip dysplasia. Surgery depends on age, size, and severity. For younger dogs, partial or full hip replacement is not necessary because their bones have not fully developed.

In older dogs, it is considered to be the best procedure for better results. Surgery is an expensive process.

Several complications can come up when a dog goes for surgery. They include fractures of the femur, nerve damage, complete loose of walking ability, infections from unclean tools or dislocation.

Surgery for young dogs (seven months and below):

Triple pelvic osteotomy (TPO)

It’s reserved for young animals less than seven weeks old. Radiographs of the dogs show severe hip laxity that in future could develop and damage the joints causing a severe case of hip dysplasia.

The procedure is performed to establish joint stability before osteoarthritis occurs. It also encourages the normal growth of the hip joints. The process involves rotating the acetabulum to fit with the femoral head bringing normalcy to the condition. The procedure has a high success rate and recovery time is six to eight weeks.

Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis (JPS)

It’s less common than TPO surgery. In this procedure, the surgeon prematurely joins two pelvic bones to give room for the other pelvis to develop in a healthy manner. The ideal age for the surgery is from 4-8 months.

Early diagnosis is critical, that’s why the procedure is not standard like TPO surgery. It’s is also less costly.

Surgery for older dogs (10 months and above)

Femoral Head and Neck Excision

This is the partial hip replacement. It is done if all the other forms of treatment have minimum results in managing Canine hip dysplasia. It relieves the dog from pain and also deals with irreversible arthritis.

The surgeon removes the femoral head and neck and later there is a growth of a false fibrous joint which fills the area and functions like a hip joint.

The procedure is more successful with medium or small breed of dogs who weigh less than 40 pounds. The performance of the new fibrous false joint is not as perfect as a real regular joint but is useful for dogs with hip dysplasia.

Total hip replacement (THR)

The procedure includes the replacement of the acetabulum and femoral head with implants. The acetabulum is replaced by high molecular weight polyethylene plastic.

On the other hand, the femoral head is replaced by titanium metal alloy and cement is used to hold the joints together. This is the best surgical technique for large dogs weighing over 40 pounds.

It’s an expensive procedure, but the success rate is very high and only three to four months of rest is needed; after healing the dogs regains full hip movement and better mobility with minimum pain.

Home Remedies for Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Natural home remedies are preferred before giving the dog medication to avoid side effects that come about when the drug is used. So here are some of the natural supplements and remedies that can help with your dog’s hip dysplasia.

They ease pain and tension in the dog’s hip, improve mobility and decrease inflammation. Wise management, proper diet, and appropriate supplement will give a dog capability to live quality, healthy and normal life.

Supplements include;

The supplements should be put in the dog’s food. They contain NSAIDs, Omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants and homeopathic remedies

  • Omega 3 it helps with joint inflammation.
  • UC-II-it helps with discomfort and inflammation.
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin- repair joints that have small particles coming out of it ”hip joint wear and tear” that occurs due to socket and ball grinding.
  • ASU- used to toughen the joint socket and ball
  • Aspirin – used to get rid of pain and inflammation.
  • Hyaluronic Acid- Improves mobility and reduces the pain
  • Vitamin C – Is an anti-inflammatory
  • Fish oil
  • Ginger, rosemary, and Gink help to improve blood circulation.

Steroids are usually given as the last resort.

Prevention and Management of Canine Hip Dysplasia

  • Proper weight management. Give your dog a balanced diet and food substances that is formulated to maintain your dog at a healthy weight.
  • Gentle exercises like swimming, light jogging help keep the dog in shape and the hip from tension.
  • Buy pet steps or ramps to help your dog get up and down high places, or staircases.
  • Provide a warm and soft supportive orthopedic bed for dogs.
  • Massage your dog’s hip from time to time to encourage joint mobility.
  • Stop breeding dogs with hip dysplasia and try cross-breeding with dogs that don’t have Canine hip dysplasia.
  • Frequent visit to the vet, for a checkup, is recommended to minimize risk and avoid any surprises.

Sources and References

Orthopedic Foundation for Animals: Treatment Options for Hip Dysplasia

Pets.Webmd.com: Healthy Dogs/ Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

1800petsmed.com: Treatment Options for Dogs with Hip Dysplasia

Wikipedia: Hip Dysplasia (Canine)

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