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Hip Dysplasia in Dogs: Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

A disease of joints, often hereditary, which may also be evident in the dog’s elbow joints. This is relatively common to many purebred or large dogs. It occurs when the ball and socket joint at the hip does not fit together properly. Perhaps the ball of the femur does not develop properly or the socket of the hip joint is too shallow. The bones rub against each other, causing irregular bone growth and grinding the bones away. Eventually the animal develops severe osteoarthritis and may be in significant pain. Diagnosis is achieved through X-rays.

Physical Symptoms

Dogs may exhibit no symptoms, though more often certain movements will cause them pain. They may be reluctant to rise from a sitting or standing position, jump, or climb stairs, or may move with a hopping motion in which both hind legs are lifted and moved together.


Genetic defect. May be aggravated by obesity, rapid growth, rough play on slick surfaces or stairs, calcium supplementation.


Consult your veterinarian. Usually pain management and anti-inflammatory medications are prescribed. Surgery may be requested in order to reconstruct or replace the hip joint with an artificial or sculpted prosthesis. Sometimes the entire head of the femur may be removed. Generally this may not be done until the dog is fully mature and is usually quite expensive. Animals with hip dysplasia should also be spayed or neutered so they cannot pass on this defect to their offspring in an accidental breeding.

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