Hip dysplasia is a painful, crippling disease that causes a dog’s hip to weaken, deteriorate and become arthritic. It stems from abnormal development of the hip joint – a ball-and-socket type joint – in which the head of the femur does not fit properly into the socket. Hip dysplasia can be mild and slightly disabling, or it can be severe and cause debilitating arthritis.

Hip dysplasia occurs more in males than females, and some breeds are genetically predisposed to the disease, including German shepherds, Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, and Rottweilers. Environmental factors like type of diet, weight gain and rate of growth also contribute to abnormal hip development.

By definition, hip dysplasia develops in young growing dogs. The earliest age at which clinical signs may be noticed is usually around four months, but some dogs may not show any abnormality until they are adults or even in their senior years.

Diagnosis and Treatment Notes:


  • Hip dysplasia is diagnosed through physical examination and hip x-rays.
  • Treatment depends on the severity of the disease, your individual pet, and your veterinarian.  Medical treatments such as weight loss, moderate exercise and anti-inflammatory medication will help to alleviate the pain and inflammation around the hip joint.
  • If medical treatment does not alleviate the pain, surgical treatment might be appropriate. Young dogs might benefit from a triple pelvic osteotomy (TPO). Older dogs respond favorably to two other procedures: a femoral head and neck ostectomy (FHO) or a total hip replacement (THR). Discuss treatment details when your pet is diagnosed with this condition.


What to Watch for*:


  • Limping
  • Swaying or staggering
  • Discomfort or difficulty lying down or standing up
  • Painfulness when walking

*Please notify us if you notice any of the above signs or if you have any questions!