What is hip dysplasia in dogs?

Hip dysplasia is a condition where the hip develops abnormally. The ligaments and joint capsules become loose, which causes the hip itself to become unstable. The ball and socket elements of the joint then move apart, which creates a laxity.

It’s primarily a genetic condition, and is common in larger breeds of dog. It inevitably leads to secondary osteoarthritis, which can cause
cartilage damage.

What are the symptoms of
hip dysplasia?

The main signs of hip dysplasia in dogs tend to show in their hind legs. Symptoms can include:

  • Limping
  • Stiffness
  • Lameness
  • An intolerance to exercise
  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty getting up
  • Abnormal gait or swaying when walking

What’s the treatment?

Hip dysplasia can often be treated via non-surgical means. This might include controlling your pet’s exercise, putting them on a diet if they’re overweight, or prescribing anti-inflammatory painkillers. Hydrotherapy can also be beneficial for treating hip dysplasia in dogs.

In more severe cases, or if your pet doesn’t respond well to other treatment options, surgery may be required. There are two main types of surgery we carry out for this condition: reconstructive and salvage. Reconstructive surgery can be suitable for younger dogs, and involves reconstructing the abnormal joint to make it more stable. Salvage surgery tends to involve replacing the abnormal hip, also known as a
total hip replacement.


vets assessing dog 

What’s the prognosis?

The outlook is usually positive. Lots of dogs with hip dysplasia will go on to recover fully, with only minor modifications to their exercise levels or diet. Most surgical treatments will also result in a good outcome if your pet receives good aftercare, although there may be a risk of complications such as infection.