Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia is an abnormal formation of the hip socket that, in its more severe form, can eventually cause crippling lameness and painful arthritis of the joints.


There is usually an underlying genetic cause but there are other factors that influence the development of the dysplasia. These include diet, overweight, growth rate, exercise, lifestyle and environmental factors.

Certain breeds of dogs are prone to the condition including Labradors, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Mastiffs and Retrievers. Large breed dogs are more susceptible to showing clinical signs but this condition is also seen in smaller breeds such as Spaniels and Pugs.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

The hip joint in an affected dog develops abnormally with laxity (looseness) in the joint, an overly shallow acetabulum “socket” within the pelvis and flattening of the femoral head “ball” preventing the hip from functioning normally. The joint becomes inflamed. As time goes on the joint tends to stabilise due to strengthening of the surrounding tissue. Lameness tends to increase when secondary inflammation occurs within the joints and a cycle of cartilage damage, inflammation and pain commences, and causes further damage.

Dogs might show signs of stiffness or soreness after getting up from rest, reluctant to exercise, bunny-hopping or other abnormal gait (legs move more together when running rather than swinging alternately), lameness, pain, jumping up, or climbing stairs, or wasting away of the muscle mass in the hip area. Radiographs (X-Rays) often confirm hip dysplasia, the problem almost always appears by the time the dog is 18 months old.

The defect can be anywhere from mild to severely crippling, and can eventually cause severe osteoarthritis.


There is no complete cure but Hip dysplasia can be treated by non-surgical means i.e. Weight Control, Restricted Exercise and Medication, Hydrotherapy and Physiotherapy will help to strengthen muscles and reduce laxity in the joint.

Surgical Options

  • Total Hip Replacement
  • Femoral Head and Neck Excision Arthroplasty
  • Triple Pelvic Osteotomy (TPO)

Rehabilitation after surgery is essential to good recovery. Hydrotherapy and physiotherapy work well with each other while McTimoney manipulative treatment will compensate imbalance and acupuncture may aid post-operative pain relief and help dogs regain mobility.

Since the condition is to a large degree inherited, the hip scores of parents should be professionally checked before buying a puppy, and the hip scores of dogs should be checked before relying upon them for breeding. Despite the fact that the condition is inherited, it can occasionally arise even to animals with brilliant hip scored parents.

Aids to living

There are many products available to help mobility in dogs suffering from hip dysplasia. These consist of pressure-reducing pet beds, ramps, stairs, and steps that help the dog get from one place to another without causing pain or hurting themselves further.