November 10, 2017
Does My Pet have Hip Dysplasia? Learn the Signs & Treatment Options

Does My Pet have Hip Dysplasia? Learn the Signs & Treatment Options

Hip Dysplasia can affect any and all pets as its mainly caused by their genetic traits. Learn how you can spot the condition in your pet and help them too!

The most common symptom of Hip Dysplasia (genetic disease) is limping (or walking funny). Pets that suffer from Hip Dysplasia tend to have a hard time jumping or rising and might even lose muscle bulk in their thighs.

Overview of Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia is considered to be the “mother” of all orthopedic diseases that effects animals for being so common, so crippling and so frustratingly insidious. Hip Dysplasia is very common in large breed of dogs and relatively common in smaller breed of dogs and even seen in cats!

The condition is painful and can be very expensive to treat. It’s also can be preventable. While this makes it sound easy to accomplish on paper, in reality its not. Hip dysplasia is primarily acquired through hereditary means. This genetically predetermined disease causes mild to very severe changes to the inner workings of the hip joints happens when a pet (typically larger breed of dogs) inherits a series of genes specific to how this joint’s components fit together.

Signs of Hip Dysplasia

The issue with Hip Dysplasia is that it’s not always easy to detect that one’s is suffering from it. Sadly its severity is variable due to the way that this disease is inherited. Some Pets will show signs as early as 4-5 months old, others may showing the signs when they reach middle age or even much later.

As mentioned earlier; Limping can be the most apparent sign. To confuse us further limping is not always present in every case. Loss of muscle mass in one or both thighs, a funny way of walking or even slowness in rising can also be a sign of presence of Hip Dysplasia disease.

To best determine if your pet has Hip Dysplasia is to talk to your veterinary physician. Physical examination and adiographs (x-rays) are need to make sure your pet is actually suffering from Hip Dysplasia and not another condition.

What Breeds are Affected?

Typically all breeds of dogs and cats can be affected, While pure breeds of dogs are reported to be the most likely to have Hip Dysplasia, mixed breeds are not immune to the condition. According to the OFA, Bulldogs have a high prevalence of hip dysplasia with 72.6 percent of Bulldogs studied being affected. Of the Pugs studied, 64.3 percent were affected.

Sadly many pet owners are in denial about hip status of their dogs or cats. This is especially true when their pets have yet to show signs of pain. By 2 years of age, 95 percent of animals that have genes for hip dysplasia will show evidence on X-rays. But veterinarians will know it’s there even before limping and other more obvious signs are present.


While it’s hard to treat Hip Dysplasia and fully prevent it due to it being a hereditary condition. The chances of it can be greatly reduce! The onus for prevention is primarily on the breeders of dogs. If you intend to purchase or adopt dogs of a breed potentially affected by hip dysplasia, OFA or PennHIP certification of the parents’ acceptable hip quality is recommended.

Treatment Options for Hip Dysplasia

Treatments for Hip Dysplasia include a proper diet and an ideal weight for the dog or cat. This combined with a veterinarian-approved, regular exercise plan, can help slow the progression of hip Dysplasia for some pets. In severe cases medical management can also include providing pain medications only as needed under veterinary supervision. There is also the “Comfort Care” method which involves keeping a close eye on your pets, making sure that they are kept away from cold weather as much as possible and performing massage or physical therapy.

In very severe cases, your veterinarian may opt to recommend surgery. Surgical options include hip replacement surgery, reconstructing the hip joint, or removing the abnormal part of the joint and allowing the surrounding structures to form a “false joint” over time.

Another option is the non-invasive method called Low Level Light Therapy (LLLT), Light Therapy for short. Light Therapy introduces the healing benefits of each color of light Red, Green, Blue, Yellow/Amber and the Invisible light called Infrared. Infrared light is especially effective for joint and hip pain conditions such as Arthritis, Hip Dysplasia and many others. It reduces the inflammation of these conditions and helps the body naturally relieve pain. Low Level Light Therapy has been used in the past 40+ years for many conditions from joint pain to skin healing! Studies were originated by NASA and many other leading companies. [Learn more about light therapy]

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