What is Canine Hip Dysplasia?

The purpose of this article is to provide you with a basic understanding of Canine Hip Dysplasia and give you insight into its causes.

The word dysplasia means improper growth. Canine Hip Dysplasia literally means improper growth of the canine hip. This improper growth makes the hip loose and wobbly, leading to increased movement of the hip. This will result over time in arthritis and lameness of the animal if left untreated.

Canine Hip Dysplasia is a condition that while progressive, is a disease that may manifest in vastly different levels of severity in different animals. Large breeds are the most susceptible to Canine Hip Dysplasia, as up to 50% may have evidence of CHD but many small and medium sized animals go on to develop CHD. Even felines are at risk for a similar condition known as Feline Hip Dysplasia.

Many animals afflicted with hip dysplasia will likely have problems walking up stairs, slowness in rising, lameness after exercise and they may exhibit personality changes due to their ever present pain. Animals with hip dysplasia are at greater risk of injury through normal and especially through strenuous activity. It is entirely possible for a dog to have CHD but show no symptoms (yet) or a dog to have severe crippling symptoms. The only way to tell for sure that your pet has CHD is via a radiographic (X-ray) exam done. Normally your vet will identify your dog’s x-ray themselves but there is also a specific organization known as the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals that is comprised of specially trained groups of veterinarians that know how to correctly identify hip dysplasia in pets. They are available as a second opinion if needed.

The interaction between genes and the environment plays a large part in determining if a dog will develop hip dysplasia. While poor breeding does not always mean the animal will surely be afflicted with hip dysplasia, there is a genetic predisposition for hip dysplasia, especially in larger breeds. If during puppy hood, the animal is malnourished, excessively exercised or simply has the genetic precursors to hip dysplasia, there is a greater chance that he or she will go on to develop hip dysplasia later in life.

Canine Hip Dysplasia Facts
The hip joint is not the only area of the dog that is affected. Knee, shoulder and spinal joints also can show evidence of changes. The gradual loss of cartilage, joint inflammation, bone spurs and pain can all result from osteoarthritis or hip dysplasia.

Simply because the parents of the animal did not ever develop hip dysplasia, it does not mean that the animal cannot develop hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia can result from genetic mutations or simply from masked of hidden genes that can skip one or more generations.

Labs, Golden Retrievers, Bloodhounds, St. Bernard’s, Boxers and Rottweilers are some of the more common candidates for hip dysplasia but not every large breed dog is likely to get hip dysplasia. Siberian Huskies and Dobermans tend to be at a lower risk for CHD.

Diet can also contribute to hip dysplasia. Feeding puppies a leaner diet during their formative years may help mitigate the risk of hip dysplasia and make them less susceptible to developing CHD later in life. By reducing the amount of food that has been given to puppies by 25%, it has been shown to reduce the rate that hip dysplasia occurs.

Canine Hip Dysplasia Symptoms:

  • For smaller dogs, yowling or grumbling when lifted or handled
  • Lameness
  • Stiffness
  • Increased sensitivity to touch or handling
  • Difficulty climbing stairs
  • A marked change of behavior
  • A faint popping sound coming from the back legs with each step
  • Hiding or disappearing from sight
  • Whining or making noises for no other reason
  • Difficulty climbing stairs
  • Reluctance or slowness in getting up from a lying or sitting position
  • Play or exercise taking more of a toll than it used to
  • Marked decline in energy during walks, play or runs