Hip Dysplasia Prevention And Treatment Options

The primary cause of hip dysplasia is genetic but other factors, such as husbandry and environmental factors, play their role as well.

Prevention starts with selective breeding.

Responsible breeders screen their dogs’ hips with either PennHIP or OFA x-rays before including them in their breeding population. Genetic testing is not available at this time.

Dogs without obviously dysplastic hips are the only individuals that should ever be selected for breeding. The PennHIP and OFA screening tests are not perfect, but they have gone a long way towards decreasing the incidence of hip dysplasia in some breeds.

Nutrition is a contributing factor to the development of hip dysplasia.

Rapid growth and excessive weight gain in puppies can increase the incidence of hip dysplasia.

A diet too high in protein, calcium or calories (i.e., simply too much food) leads to unnaturally rapid growth, obesity, and/or bones and muscles growing at different rates, all of which can cause a number of joint issues, including hip dysplasia.

Be thoughtful of what and how much you feed your puppy.  Large breed dogs under the age of 18 months should stay on the slim side of normal.  Dogs fed to grow slowly will eventually reach their full size, it just takes them a little extra time to get there.

Does exercise play a role in the development of hip dysplasia?

This issue doesn't seem to be entirely clear. It appears that exercise does not cause hip dysplasia to develop. However, if a dog already has bad hips (even if the problems are not yet visible on traditional x-rays), high impact or strenuous exercise can make things worse.

On the other hand, exercise to promote the strength of muscles, tendons, and ligaments and a healthy weight is still very important so this is one of those cases where balance is important.

Early detection means early treatment and better prognosis.

The sooner you find out whether your dog has hip dysplasia the better off your dog will be.

Ever since Jasmine was little, because of her breed, a thorough hip evaluation has been a part of every vet visit. Fortunately, Jasmine's hips are healthy; they’re just about the only part of her body that is without an issue.

Some treatments are only available for puppies up to certain age, and arthritis, if not addressed, only gets worse with time.

Treatment options include the management of arthritis and inflammation that is caused by hip dysplasia and/or surgical intervention. Which treatments are best for your dog depends on an evaluation of the joints, your dog's age, and general health.

Arthritis management includes weight control, physical therapy, acupuncture, joint supplements, omega-3 fatty acids, stem cell therapy and, while not at all my personal favorite, NSAIDs and other pain relievers.

Surgical options for treatment of hip dysplasia in dogs

Juvenile Pubic Symphysiodesis (JPS) is a preventive surgery that can be performed on at-risk puppies before the age of 5 months. Altering the growth of the pubic bone results in rotation of the hip sockets to better hold on to the femoral heads.

Triple pelvic osteotomy (TPO) can be performed on puppies between 8 and 18 months of age, without significant degenerative arthritis changes or a hip socket that is too flat. It is a similar idea to the JPS but involves surgically repositioning a part of the pelvis. The pelvis is cut in three places and rotated to better hold on to the femoral head.

Femoral Head/Neck Ostectomy (FHO) is the removal of the femoral head in order to prevent bone rubbing on bone. The fibrous tissue will form a false joint connecting the two bones. This surgery is usually recommended only for smaller dogs.

Total Hip Replacement (THR) is quite self-explanatory. It is often the recommended surgical option for older dogs, individuals over 50 pounds or so, and dogs with advanced arthritis.

Dorsal acetabular rim arthroplasty (Darthroplasty) is rather new and actually sounds quite cool. Bone grafts from other sites are used to manufacture a deeper socket so the femoral head sits within the socket better. Long-term prognosis with this surgery is not known at this time, however.

Keep in mind that many dogs that undergo surgical treatment for hip dysplasia still do require some level of medical management for arthritis, just far less than they would have otherwise needed.

Whether you choose surgery, conventional medical options, alternative treatments, or some combination thereof, it is important that therapy is tailored to the individual condition and needs of your dog.

Does your dog have hip dysplasia? How did you treat it? Share your story.

Related articles:
Picking the Right Dog to Breed
Hip And Elbow Dysplasia: Are They The Same Thing?
Shiloh Is Headed For A Second Hip Surgery And Hopes To Find A Forever Home
Talk To Me About Arthritis


  1. We chatted about this on Twitter a bit when my girl was first diagnosed. I suppose I should use that term loosely, because she's only officially been diagnosed as having hip laxity, rather than dysplasia. The vet is certain that she's dysplastic, but won't confirm without x-rays.

    She is doing really well on UBAVET, although she has been clicking ever since the vet's physical manipulation of her hips.

    We aren't pursuing x-rays immediately, but I will consider it at her next exam depending on how she's doing. I'll likely make it a semi-annual visit rather than an annual.

    She's a pint sized golden retreiver mix(48 lbs!) and it's important to me to keep her that way.

  2. Hi Ashley, yes I remember our conversation. Hip dysplasia and hip laxity is really the same thing. The joint parts don't fit together properly and it is the loose fit that causes trouble.

    Yes, x-ray needs to be done to confirm the diagnosis and also to evaluate the degree of misfit.

    Is your vet aware that the clicking sound (crepitus) started after the exam and wasn't present earlier?

    Yes, keeping her thin and her muscles strong is important to minimize the damage.

    Did you notice any mobility or pain issues with her?

  3. Its pretty much researched to suggest that CHD is wholly a genetic factored disease, environmental additives such as protien calcium and exercise that can exacerbate the already present condition may well increase and earlier onset.


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