How To Prevent Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Dog at rest

Hip dysplasia affects numerous dogs, it is heartbreaking for owners to witness their once agile, loyal chum beginning to wobble and struggle on their hind legs. There may not be an actual ‘cure’ for hip dysplasia in dogs but there are certain preventative measures that can be taken.

Hip dysplasia means ‘badly formed hip.’ Positioned at the end of a dog’s leg bone is a ball and in a healthy dog this slots nicely into a pocket located within their hip. Dogs suffering from hip dysplasia do not possess this snugly fitting connection; the hip is badly malformed that the ball does not sit within the pocket.

  1. There are several specific breeds of dog that are more prone to hip dysplasia, mainly the bigger breeds including the retriever.
  2. Hip dysplasia in dogs is known as a congenital disease, it is with the individual from birth, their hip joints actually grow abnormally. Very often the hip dysplasia is passed down to the puppy from its parents and this is why breeders will offer prospective owners a hip score.
  3. Hip scoring is a procedure that involves the dog’s hips being x-rayed nine times in total and then scored, the lower the score given the less chance there is hip dysplasia being present.
  4. Now there are certain steps owners can take when they discover their dog has hip dysplasia, these won’t prevent the condition worsening but they might help the dog be more comfortable. Hip dysplasia in dogs can also be ‘slowed down’ through preventative measures.
  5. One of the initial and one of the most important points is for the dog’s weight to be carefully monitored so they do not become overweight. It is so easy to begin to pity an afflicted canine friend and although it is wrong, to start feeding them the odd tasty treat. Before you know it your slim looking dog has turned into a plump looking Fido.
  6. Speak to your vet and discover your dog’s ideal weight range. Once you have established this you can commence a diet for your dog and however hard, stick with it. Dogs have a great way of turning those cute, imploring eyes on their unsuspecting owners and most people find it too difficult to resist. Just retain the thought that you are helping your faithful friend by not giving in and feeding them that treat.
  7. Going hand in hand, or paw in paw, with the weight monitoring should be exercise. The best form of exercise for your dog will be the kind that can build the muscle up and also provide the widest range of motion. Also you need to consider exercise that will provide the least amount of strain on the dog’s joints.
  8. Walking on the leash is a good start, swimming is a brilliant form of muscle building exercise and another exercise you and your dog can complete within the comfort of your own home is to walk up and down the stairs. These are all low impact exercises and to benefit from them fully they need to be carried out on a daily basis.
  9. An exercise regime comes down to common sense on the owner’s part, where playing Frisbee with your dog is fun it can be extremely hard on your dog’s joints. You could swap the Frisbee for a ball thrown gently along the ground for your faithful friend to chase rather than to jump up to retrieve.
  10. Use a good bed for your dog.  Providing your dog with an orthopedic dog bed is an essential step too as this will support your dog better than a regular dog bed. Place the bed in a draught free position.
  11. As your dog ages,  you can offer supplements and certain medications to help them. Glucosamine is one of the more recognised ingredients to look out for; this eases the pain caused by hip dysplasia in dogs. There are numerous products available with Glucosamine content, for the best advice, ask your vet which they would recommend.

Hip dysplasia in dogs is, sadly, a common occurrence. There is no quick and easy cure available, nobody can magically click their fingers and discover that the condition has now departed from their retriever. There are however positive measures that can be taken to prevent the condition worsening and to ensure that your faithful canine friend enjoys the pain free, happy life that they deserve.

Scott Gray is currently a black lab dog owner and freelance writer for, which has loads of information about training and raising dogs also products including golden retriever prints and dog beds.

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