Hip dysplasia. These two words terrify large and giant dog breed owners, but the truth is hip dysplasia can happen to any size or breed of dog. This painful condition can drastically reduce a dog’s quality of life and is difficult for owners to watch. The good news is that embracing responsible dog ownership and educating yourself about potential health conditions like hip dysplasia can go a long way toward keeping your dog comfortable.
Learn what all dog owners should know about hip dysplasia, including the symptoms, treatment options, and preventative measures you can take to keep your dog healthy, happy, and active.
Hip dysplasia is a common skeletal condition, often seen in large or giant breed dogs, although it can occur in smaller breeds as well. To understand how the condition works, owners first must understand the basic anatomy of the hip joint.
The hip joint functions as a ball and socket. In dogs with hip dysplasia, the ball and socket do not fit or develop properly, and they rub and grind instead of sliding smoothly. This results in deterioration over time and an eventual loss of function of the joint itself.
Several factors lead to the development of hip dysplasia in dogs, beginning with genetics. Hip dysplasia is hereditary and is especially common in larger dogs, like the Great Dane, Saint Bernards, Labrador Retriever and German Shepherd Dog. Factors such as excessive growth rate, types of exercise, and improper weight and nutrition can magnify this genetic predisposition.
Some dogs begin to show signs of hip dysplasia when they are as young as four months of age. Others develop it in conjunction with osteoarthritis as they age. In both cases, there are a few symptoms that owners should be familiar with. These symptoms may vary depending on the severity of the disease, the level of inflammation, the degree of looseness in the joint, and how long the dog has suffered from hip dysplasia.