An Introduction to Canine Hip Dysplasia
What is Hip Dysplasia?
The hip joint consists of a
ball on the femoral bone, and a socket on the hip bone.
Canine hip dysplasia simply defined is when a dogs hips do not
develop normally and the ball does not fit snugly into the socket.
What Causes Hip Dysplasia?
While there is no conclusive proof of
the cause of hip dyplasia, there are 2 general schools of thought about its
cause 1) genetic or 2) environmental
These two differing
viewpoints often place the dog breeders at odds with the dog owners, causing
each to blame the other for the problem.
Genetic: The puppy is born
with the problem
Environmental: The puppy is too heavy resulting in
excessive growth and/or over or under exercising a puppy during its growth
phase resulting in developmental problems.
The most common theory is
that hip dysplasia is indeed genetic. Most breeders have their breeding
dogs hips rated either by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) or
Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program (Penn-HIP).
We could discuss the
merits of both theories, but it doesnt change the facts. If your dog has
hip dysplasia, you need to deal with it. You may be deciding what to do next,
or you may have already decided, and want to know what to expect.
When Does a Dog Get Hip Dysplasia?
If you subscribe to the
theory that it is genetic, they are born with it. Dogs that have severe hip
dysplasia often begin to have problems as puppies. As you will see from the
owners stories, most of these dogs were diagnosed as puppies. Sometimes,
the hip dysplasia does not cause pain for the dog, so they do not show signs of
it until they develop arthritis in their hip joints. Some dogs that are not as
severe can live out their entire lives with few, if any symptoms.
What are the Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia?
There are a number of
symptoms that will be mentioned in the owners stories. Some only refer to
they didnt walk right. Others will say they saw no symptoms at all, or
just that their dog began to limp. Following is a list of common symptoms, of
which your dog may have a couple and not have hip dysplasia.
- Bunny Hopping: The dog tends to use both hind legs together,
rather than one at a time. This occurs when the dog is running, or going up
- Side Sit: Also called lazy sit, slouch or frog sit. When the
dog sits, its legs are not positioned bent and close to the body. They can be
loose and off to one side, or one or both legs may be straight out in front.
- Sway Walk: Also called a loose walk. When the dog is walking,
the back end sways back and forth because the hips are loose.
- Unusual Laying Position: Legs are straight out and off to the
side when the dog is laying on its stomach or legs are straight out behind the
dog. (All dogs lay with their legs behind them on occasion, many dogs with hip
dysplasia lay like this all the time.)
- Limping: The dog may favor one hind leg or the other, and may
alternate legs that it is favoring.
- Quiet Puppy: Puppies who are already in pain from hip dysplasia
tend to be very good puppies. They do not rough house the way that normal
puppies do. They also tend to sleep for a long time after playing or going for
a walk. Some owners describe their puppy as the best puppy theyve ever
- Dog Doesnt Jump: No only do they not jump on you, they
seem to pull themselves up by their front end onto furniture as opposed to
- Underdeveloped Hind Quarters and Overdeveloped Chest: This is
caused by the failure to use the hind legs normally and jump. The dog also may
actually be shifting weight forward.
Diagnosing Hip Dysplasia
The only way to diagnose
hip dysplasia is with x-rays. However, I must note here that you should treat
the dog and not the x-rays. Some dogs with seemingly mild hip dysplasia are in
a lot of pain, while other dogs with apparent severe hip dysplasia do not
What Can Be Done for My Dog?
have had x-rays taken of your dogs hips at your regular vet, you may have
been referred to an orthopedic surgeon. The surgeon is going to recommend
various surgical options for your dog. I am going to give you a very brief
overview of these surgeries. You will need to discuss your dogs options
with the surgeon. They will provide the details of each surgical option. Some
people are able to treat their dog with nutritional supplements and avoid
surgery. In the end, it will be your decision. My goal is to help you after you
have made the best decision for you and your dog. We are providing stories to
help you better understand what to expect after your decision has been made to
manage your dogs hip dysplasia with or without surgery.
- Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis (JPS) - This surgery is performed
on puppies under 20 weeks of age, generally when the puppy is neutered or
spayed. It shows great promise as a preventive measure, by altering the pelvic
growth. This surgery has a short recovery period, but is generally done before
a puppy can be diagnosed. However, once youve lived with hip dysplasia,
it may prove to be worthwhile for a puppy considered at risk for developing hip
- Dorsal Acetabular Rim (DAR) This surgery consists of
bone grafts being taken from other areas of the pelvis to build up the rim on
the hip socket (cup). The idea is for the femoral head to have a deeper socket
to fit into. It's relatively new, so there is some question as to how a dog
will do into old age - there aren't many older dogs that have had it done.
- Triple Pelvic Ostomy (TPO) - This surgery involves cutting the
bone around the hip socket and repositioning the socket for a better fit with
the femoral head. The bones are plated back together so they heal in the
correct alignment. This surgery is performed on young dogs before they have
- Total Hip Replacement (THR) This surgery consists of
replacing the hip joint similar to a human hip replacement. A new cup is
attached to the hip bone, and the femoral head is cut off the leg bone and an
implant is inserted into the leg bone. This surgery is done on more mature dogs
that have finished growing. Due to the size of the implants, this surgery is
done on larger dogs. Previously, all artificial hip components were cemented in
place. More recently, cementless hip replacements are being performed.
- Femoral Head Ostomy (FHO) This surgery consists of
removing the femoral head of the leg bone to eliminate the pain of hip
dysplasia. The dogs body will then develop scar tissue to create an
artificial hip joint. Long considered only appropriate for smaller dogs or as a
salvage operation for a failed THR, it has become increasingly popular for
Non-Surgical or Conservative Management Option
Many people choose to have surgery performed on their dog only as a last
resort. Some are able to manage their dogs hip dysplasia with
supplements, acupuncture, chiropractic care, exercise and weight management. We
have a number of stories from people who have been able to do just that. Many
times, it pays to treat the dog, and not the x-rays
information, please visit http://www.mypoordog.com.
Article written by Sally Doyle
About The Author
Sally Doyle, Author of "Dog Owners
Speak Out on Hip Dysplasia" and currently working on a series of books in which
dog owners share their dog's story dealing with major medical issues, such as
luxating patellas, torn ligaments and amputation.
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5 Things You Should Know
About Canine Hip Displaysia
Here are some telltale signs of hip
Your Questions On
Canine Hip Dysplasia - Answered.
CHD is a heritable disease. It is
passed on by the parents to the offspring. The only effective measure therefore
to eradicate the disease is to prevent dogs with hip dysplasia from breeding.