Signs and Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

hip dysplasia in dogs
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As dog parents, we want to ensure our furry friends are healthy and happy. Unfortunately, some health conditions might affect our four-legged buddies, and one such issue is hip dysplasia.

If you notice your dog being less active, losing muscle in their back leg area, and having difficulty getting up, they may be suffering from hip dysplasia.

This condition primarily affects larger breed dogs, but it can occur in dogs of any size or breed. In this post, we’ll explore the signs and symptoms of hip dysplasia in dogs, and discuss what you can do if you suspect your pet might be suffering from this ailment.

signs and symptoms of hip dysplasia in dogs new braunfels tx

Understanding Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Hip dysplasia is a common skeletal condition in dogs, often seen in larger breeds like German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, and Great Danes. However, smaller breeds and cats can also suffer from this condition. The disease is characterized by an abnormal formation of the hip socket that, in its more severe form, can lead to debilitating lameness and painful arthritis of the joints.

This condition is generally hereditary, which means it’s passed down from one generation to the next. But it’s not purely genetic; environmental factors like diet and exercise can also influence the development and progression of hip dysplasia.

Hip Dysplasia and Dog Breed

As mentioned earlier, hip dysplasia is more common in certain breeds. Here is a little more detail about the susceptibility of some breeds:

Labrador Retrievers

As one of the most popular breeds worldwide, it’s unfortunate that Labs are among the breeds most affected by hip dysplasia. The breed’s love for activity can be hampered by this debilitating condition.

German Shepherds

These intelligent and versatile dogs are sadly prone to hip dysplasia. This can be particularly challenging given their active nature and common roles in work and service capacities.

Great Danes

Despite their imposing size, Great Danes are known for their gentle nature. Hip dysplasia in these gentle giants can severely impact their quality of life due to their substantial weight being supported by the affected joints.

Understanding the breed-specific predispositions can help in early detection and intervention.

Signs and Symptoms of Canine Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia might be difficult to detect in the early stages, as dogs tend to hide their pain well, a trait inherited from their wild ancestors. However, as the disease progresses, certain signs and symptoms may become evident.

Decreased Activity

Dogs suffering from hip dysplasia might avoid activities that they once enjoyed. They may show less enthusiasm for walks, have difficulty getting up, and may even resist climbing stairs.

Lameness in the Hind Legs

Lameness or weakness in the hind legs is a common sign. Your dog may limp or show an abnormal gait. Some dogs may also run using both hind legs together, known as bunny hopping.


While dogs are good at hiding pain, you may notice signs such as increased panting, loss of appetite, and changes in behavior. Dogs with hip dysplasia may also show discomfort when the hip area is touched or moved.

Muscle Mass Loss

Over time, dogs with hip dysplasia may lose muscle mass in their hind legs due to lack of use. The loss of muscle mass can lead to a noticeable difference between the hind and front end musculature.

Difficulty Rising

Dogs with hip dysplasia might have a hard time standing up from a lying or sitting position. This is especially noticeable after they have been resting.

Joint Stiffness

Stiffness, particularly after a period of rest or in cooler weather, is a common symptom.

What to Do If You Suspect Your Dog Has Hip Dysplasia

If you notice any of these signs, it’s crucial to consult your veterinarian. They can conduct a physical examination and may suggest diagnostic tests such as X-rays or a CT scan to confirm the diagnosis. Early detection is essential, as management options can help slow the progression of the disease and improve your dog’s quality of life.

Treatment for hip dysplasia may include non-surgical methods like weight management, physical therapy, and anti-inflammatory medications. In severe cases, surgical intervention may be required. This could range from procedures to alter the joint’s shape to total hip replacement.

It’s also important to note that while you can’t prevent genetic predisposition to hip dysplasia, you can control environmental factors. Feeding your puppy a balanced diet, preventing obesity, and providing regular, controlled exercise can all help reduce the risk of developing hip dysplasia.

5 Dog Hip Dysplasia Treatments

Treatments for hip dysplasia aim to manage pain and maintain mobility. Here’s a deeper look into some of the treatment options:

1) Weight Management

Keeping your dog at a healthy weight is one of the most effective ways to manage hip dysplasia. Excess weight can put additional stress on your dog’s hips, exacerbating the condition.

2) Exercise

Regular, moderate exercise can help keep your dog’s joints flexible and build muscle mass, which can provide additional support to the affected joints. However, it’s important to avoid high-impact activities that could worsen your dog’s condition.

3) Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can be beneficial in managing hip dysplasia. This can include hydrotherapy, where your dog exercises in water to reduce strain on their joints while building muscle strength.

4) Medication

Your vet may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to reduce inflammation and pain. Other supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin can also support joint health.

5) Surgery

For severe cases, surgery may be the best option. There are several types of surgeries available, including procedures to reshape the joint, and in some cases, total hip replacements may be considered. Your vet can discuss the best surgical options for your dog’s condition.

Remember, each dog is unique and what works for one may not work for another. It’s important to work closely with your vet to create a management plan tailored to your dog’s specific needs.


While hip dysplasia can be a devastating diagnosis, understanding the signs and symptoms can aid early detection, which is key in managing this condition. If you notice any changes in your dog’s behavior, it’s essential to consult with a veterinarian. Remember, our canine companions depend on us to look out for their health and wellbeing. Your vigilance can make all the difference in ensuring they lead a comfortable and happy life.

For pets in the New Braunfels, TX area, Comal Pet Hospital is here to help! Give us a call at (830) 625-8074 or make an appointment online.

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