Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Hip Dysplasia in dogs is a common inherited skeletal condition, where the Femoral Head (Ball) and Acetabulum (Socket) of the hip do not properly meet one another. This results in laxity of the hip joint and over time, arthritis. Hip Dysplasia is common in large breed dogs, but can also occur less frequently in small breed dogs and cats.

Canine Dysplasia

The hip joint functions as a ball and socket joint. The hallmark of Hip Dysplasia is laxity in this joint. Over time, forces acting on these bones to counteract the instability will lead to small, microscopic fractures and resulting osteoarthritis. It is the most common cause of arthritis in the hipbone of a dog.

There are several overlapping causes which can result in this impairment, however, genetic predisposition is thought to play the largest role. OFA lists the Bulldog as the highest percentage of dysplastic hips evaluated followed by the Pug, Dogue de Bordeaux, and Neapolitan Mastiff. Other factors besides genetics that may contribute to Hip Dysplasia include nutrition, growth rate, exercise, muscle mass, and obesity.


Symptoms of this condition lie largely on the severity of joint laxity, inflammation and how far along in development. Indications of hip dysplasia include:

  • Decreased activity
  • Difficulty rising
  • Bunny Hopping or swaying
  • Reluctance to run or jump, especially after exercise.
  • Loss of muscles in thighs


All dogs suspected of having Hip Dysplasia should have a thorough physical examination by a Veterinarian. Your veterinarian can look for certain signs on palpation of the hips, and evaluate your dog’s gait and overall presentation. After a thorough physical examination, it is likely your veterinarian will recommend radiographs, as this remains the hallmark diagnostic tool for both diagnosis and early age screening.

Treatment Options For Dogs With Hip Dysplasia

There are many treatment options for pets that are suffering from hip dysplasia and resulting osteoarthritis. These options range from lifestyle modifications to more invasive treatments such as surgery. In mildly symptomatic cases your veterinarian may recommend non-surgical options ranging from NSAIDs to joint supplements. Other treatments including physical therapy and weight reduction may also be beneficial. In more severe cases of hip dysplasia, surgery might be the most suitable option. Your veterinarian will go over the appropriate treatment options which they feel would be best for your furry friend.