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Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

What is Hip Dysplasia?

Canine hip dysplasia is a common orthopedic condition, where the ball and socket of the hip joint either does not fit or develop properly, causing the hip to rub and grind leading to eventual joint deterioration.

Common Causes of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

canine hip dysplasia

There are several factors that can lead to the development of hip dysplasia in dogs, although most common in giant breeds any dog can be diagnosed with the condition.

  • Hereditary factors: larger breeds and at-risk breeds like Great Dane, Saint Bernard, Labrador Retriever, and German Shepherd are the most likely to develop the condition
  • Excessive Growth Rate
  • Exercise: over exercising, and strenuous activities (like repetitive jumping) can lead to a dog developing hip dysplasia
  • Excess Weight & Poor Nutrition

How To Help a Dog with Hip Dysplasia

dog hip dysplasia brace
  1. Get acupuncture! It has been extremely successful for hip dysplasia for my dog. My dog was having major hip dysplasia problems with what I would call loose hips and slipping much of the time. After getting acupuncture treatments, those problems quickly went away. Make sure the acupuncturist is a DVM which is required by law, but not all are. If you are like me, you will find that the acupuncturist is more in touch with your dog’s condition than his / her regular vet. If nothing else, it is a great way to get a second opinion on your dog’s condition. BTW, some of these tips are from my dog’s acupuncturist.
  2. Put a ThermaCare back heat wrap (yes, the one meant for humans) around the dog’s waist as close to the hips has possible. I have a 60 lb. lab and the XL/L version works best for her. The heat wrap really helps with hip dysplasia pain and seems to help heal. I do this every night and let my dog sleep through the night with it on.
  3. Soak the dog in a hot bathtub with epsom salts. This treatment also helps with hip dysplasia pain especially after swimming in cold water and / or exposure to cold weather.
  4. Get chiropractic treatment. Like acupuncture, the chiropractic treatments have had amazing results on my dog. My dog’s chiropractor helped identify a potential tumor on her hip.
  5. Swim! Fortunately, my dog loves to swim and does it every day for about 30 minutes. She is now 14 years old and is extremely fit. Every vet I talk to says it is the best exercise for dogs with disabilities. If your dog doesn’t like to swim, take him or her to aquatherapy where they know how to help dogs that are reluctant or afraid.
  6. Get Hydrotherapy. Even if your dog swims, check out aquatherapy. I found that my dog swims very well, but doesn’t use her left leg very much. The aqua-therapist has been using both the pool and water treadmill to help retrain her to use her left leg more. Admittedly, my dog has only had two treatments so far, but this type of treatment seems like a great thing for her. Make sure they are a DVM too. In my case, the doctor there did some great examinations that really helped diagnose my dog’s problems.
  7. Use infrared heat on the hip(s). My acupuncturist gave me a heat gun that I put on her hips for a few minutes every night. It is more focused and intense than the ThermaCare and seems to help with pain.
  8. Absolutely use supplements! At a minimum, get Synovi G3. I have done much research and gotten feedback from at least 4 vets and they all agree that it is the best joint supplement (compared with others such as Cosequin) for hip dysplasia. I also give my dog Welactin, Lipiderm and several herbs prescribed by her acupuncturist.
  9. Reduce weight. Maintaining a healthy weight can help to reduce the amount of stress placed on your dog’s hips. Fortunately, my dog is very lean because of all her swimming, but the first thing you will read is to reduce the weight of a dog with hip dysplasia problems. A great diet for dogs with hip / joint problems is Eukanuba Senior Plus which has many joint supplements and will help with weight problems. It is only available via prescription so talk to your vet about it.
  10. Increase muscle. Unfortunately, my dog keeps losing weight because of muscle atrophy even though she gets get exercise. My acupuncturist suggested adding cooked lean ground beef to my dog’s diet and the regular vet concurred.
  11. Have a great attitude, be patient and expose your dog to positive experiences. Maybe I’m crazy, but my dog seems to reflect my attitude. I know it can be very tough for you when you have to support your dog while he / she goes up and down the stairs as well as going to the bathroom. Maybe you become impatient while it’s raining and your dog still wants to sniff around. Maybe you get really sad when you hear from the vet that your dog (your baby) has a problem. I have noticed that my dog really reacts to my positive or negative attitude. I have also noticed that when I try to ignore bad news and be positive all the time, my dog reacts positively. My dog also really loves people and especially kids so I always try to expose her to them as much as possible. She also loves the park, so I take her there even if it is for a short walk.
  12. Consider a dog wheelchair. Hip joint pain can lead to a change in a dog’s mobility, causing them to slow down, rest more, and become less active. A wheelchair is a great way to get your dog to exercise more and help them move with less pain. A wheelchair’s support will let your dog walk and use their hind legs while reducing the pressure that they’re placing on the hip joint.

Best wishes for you and your dog,

Hip Dysplasia Info Graphic
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