Symptoms and Treatment of Dog Hip Dysplasia

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Video | Symptoms | Treatment | Ask a Vet


"Canine or Dog Hip Dysplasia (CHD) is a condition where the ligaments, muscles and connective tissue that control and support the hip no longer keep it in place (called hyperlaxity).

The problem is common in dogs, affecting approximately 25% to 30% of all pets. Symptoms associated with canine hip dysplasia include loss of mobility, lameness and pain. When symptoms are detected in puppies, it rarely occurs prior to age 4 to 5 months, but can develop as early as age 5 to 9 months. In some dogs, symptoms are not seen until age 3 to 5 years.

Veterinarians try and diagnose the disorder early in order to prevent secondary problems such as abnormal joint remodeling and osteoarthritis. Treatment includes conventional approaches such as weight loss, exercise and heat therapy to prolotherapy, which involves the use of vitamin B12 or dextrose injections combined with lidocaine. While this dog hip problem cannot be prevented, the impact of the disease can be reduced by knowing the incidence of the disorder in your breed, and through proper nutrition and by maintaining the ideal body weight for your dog."


Dog Hip Dysplasia (CHD, canine hip dysplasia) is a progressive disease that occurs in old age. It is a genetic disorder, with some breeds having a higher incidence than others. The disorder is widespread with 25% to 30% of dogs suffering from the condition. The disorder is caused by a laxity of the ligaments, muscles and connective tissue which holds a dog's hip in place. It is rarely seen in dogs under 5 months of age, and often does not result in clinical signs or symptoms until age 3 to 5 years old.

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Dog Hip Dysplasia Video

This video featuring Dr. Anthony Cambridge, who is board certified in veterinary surgery, provides a complete overview of hip dysplasia in dogs.

Breeds and Hip Dysplasia

Large and giant breed dogs are most at risk for dog hip dysplasia. Smaller breeds can also get the dog hip disorder.  Breeds include:

  • French Bulldogs
  • Bulldogs
  • German Shepherds
  • Bernese Mountain Dogs
  • Bavarian and Hanover Hound
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Rottweilers
  • Labrador Retrievers
  • Chesapeake Bay retrievers
  • Saint Bernards
  • English Mastiffs

Dog Hip Dysplasia Symptoms

Dog Hip Dysplasia
Watch for Signs of Hip Dysplasia For Dogs When a Dog is Walking or Going up Stairs.
Note How This Dog with Hip Dysplasia Keeps Both Legs Close Together and Then Will "Bunny Hop" with Legs Together Up the Stairs

Source: VedVid

Canine hip dysplasia symptoms include:

  • Making any noise or vocalizing when you handle your dog
  • Stiffness
  • Shifting weight from one side to the other
  • When dog cannot stretch
  • Reluctance to extend rear legs
  • Odd gait or tight skirt with the legs moving together when running rather than alternating (looks like a bunny hop)
  • During long walks frequent sitting
  • Avoidance or reluctance to play (watch for this in puppies), jump, go up or down stairs, climb, or walk
  • Difficulty getting up after lying down
  • Early exhaustion

Canine Hip Dysplasia Diagnosis

A veterinarian will examine the way your dog moves and then conduct a physical. Any observations will be confirmed with an X-Ray. New diagnostic methods such as the PennHIP model can detect the potential for hip dysplasia as early as 16 weeks of age. The PennHIP model can also detect osteoarthritis.

Canine Hip Dsyplasia Treatment

Your veterinarian will recommend a treatment plan based on the condition of your dog.  This can include:

  • Exercise
  • Controlling your dog's weight to take the pressure off of the joints
  • Nutrition
  • Surgery
  • Prolotherapy: A surgical alternative where vitamin B12 or dextrox is combined with lidocaine into the tendons or ligaments. The approach stimulates the immune system to rebuild the tendon where the injection takes place
  • Surgery: Very limited window to correct developing canine hip dysplasia. Cannot be used once cartilage is damaged.  Best results occur when lameness and other disease symptoms have not yet appeared. Surgery will not be used if the veterinarian believes that it will not prevent the onset of osteoarthritis:   
  • Triple Pelvic Osteomy (TPD): used in dogs 5 to 12 months old with no or small signs of osteoarthritis and joint subluxation. The procedure can prevent osteoarthritis and all the joint to enjoy full function.
  • Juvenile Public Symphysiodesis: This procedure is used in 3.5 to 4 month old puppies. Dogs that undergo this procedure have a positive result from a test called Ortolani. 

CHD Prevention

The condition cannot be prevented since it is genetic. If diagnosed early in life, the progression of the disease can be altered. For example, early detection can help to prevent the onset of osteoarthritis triggered by the dysplasia. Also, ask your veterinarian if your dog will benefit from a supplement formulated to  promote muscle and joint health in dogs such as Muscle and Joint Support.

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Further Reading:

Dog Hip Problems


Dog Fancy Magazine

Early Diagnosis and Treatment of Hip Dysplasia
A. Vezzoni
Cinica Veterinaria Vezzoni, Cremona, Italy