Posted by Camille Arneberg on

Hip Dysplasia Treatment for Dogs

Table of Contents

It’s in the nature of a dog to be excitable, loving, and energetic. If you’ve witnessed your dog suffering from acute joint pain, then you know how their very essence can be affected by something like hip dysplasia. When they struggle to stand, limp, or in the worst cases, become completely debilitated, it’s like their entire personality changes. To that end, understanding proper joint treatment is necessary for your dog to retain that excitable, loving identity. 

For a deep dive into what hip dysplasia is and the secrets behind the best treatment for dogs with hip dysplasia, read ahead. This knowledge can help you catch the condition early—or in the best case mitigate the chances of it ever developing. Simple preventative measures such as hip and joint supplements for dogs can be all the difference for your pup, but it’s important that you know all there is to dysplasia in dogs so that you’re ready to face it should your dog ever 

have it.

Cursory Glance: What is Hip Dysplasia

It’s best to get our bearings straight—what is this condition all about? Hip dysplasia is when the hip socket forms abnormally and regular movement causes wear and tear between the thigh bone and pelvis. If the hip socket is too large, for example, the thigh bone will be able to pop in and out, grinding the two bones. This is often seen in large breed dogs who during their puppy years grow at a rapid rate.

But hip dysplasia comes in many forms. At its worst, hip dysplasia is completely incapacitating—to the point where older dogs will start urinating and defecating indoors because the pain of going outside is too significant. Whether your dog is suffering from mild arthritis or has been immobilized, here’s what you need to know about hip dysplasia:

  • Signs and Symptoms: The obvious signs of hip dysplasia—limping or struggling to stand—are just that, obvious. But there are also subtle signs that dog owners can watch out for. For example, did you know a dog’s stance can be an early indicator of hip dysplasia?
  • Treatments: Next, we’re running the gamut from surgery to stretching, invasive to noninvasive treatment, prescription medication to natural remedies—because no two dogs are alike, and only you know what works best for your canine friend.
  • Prevention: Even if your dog is currently suffering from hip pain, you should know it could be worse. Prevention isn’t just to avoid hip dysplasia altogether—although it’s one of its many uses. Prevention can stop the progression of a disease that’s worsening by the day.
  • Causes: Finally, to give everything here its proper context, it’s important to understand the causes of hip dysplasia. Why? Well, did you know that genetics play a factor in hip dysplasia? Knowing whether your dog is susceptible or likely to develop conditions can help you take extra preventative care.

As a final note before we dive in: Allow this article to be a summation of your research—to be a reference to read and reread as your four-legged friend ages through life. When talking to your vet, it helps to have all the information at your fingertips.

Signs and Symptoms of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

Understanding the signs of joint pain can allow you to be extra vigilant and establish preventative measures early to halt the disease’s progression. Additionally, if you’ve noticed behavioral changes with your dog, this might help to explain that. Constant pain and decreased mobility from hip dysplasia can cause stress, mood swings, and changes in your dog’s personality.

The Obvious Signs

First: the telltale signs. If your dog exhibits these symptoms, you’ll want to start treatment as soon as possible. Without proper intervention, the disease could progress to immobility.

  • Refusal to play, climb stairs, jump, or perform strenuous activities
  • Limping when walking
  • Bunny hopping when walking (when both back legs move together like a jumping rabbit)
  • The hip is sensitive to the touch
  • Difficulty rising from lying position (only uses front legs)

The Subtle Signs

The subtle signs are harder to catch but they’re incredibly important to know. Noticing the subtle signs allow you to get a handle on the disease before it progresses to an irreversible point of joint deterioration.

  • Back legs are closer together when standing
  • Loss of thigh muscle mass
  • A gain of shoulder muscle mass (as compensation)
  • Popping sound in the hip when walking

Treatment of Hip Dysplasia in Dogs

The course of treatment changes based on how early you catch the condition. If you own a dog breed that is more likely to suffer from joint problems (see below for the list of breeds), then it’s best to regularly check through the list of hip dysplasia symptoms above for any change in hip health. Receiving a diagnosis early can improve the efficacy of treatment through their aging years.

When it comes to treating hip dysplasia, here’s what you need to know:

  1. Receiving the proper diagnosis
  2. Prescription medication and when it’s needed
  3. Nutritional needs for healthy joints
  4. Holistic methods 
  5. The benefits and downsides of surgery

Hip Dysplasia Diagnosis

Taking your dog to the local veterinarian will reveal the extent of hip joint damage your dog is currently experiencing. The vet will perform a physical to gather pain and inflammation levels and range of flexibility. They will also take x-rays to determine the degree of damage to the bones.

Prescription Medication

Pain relievers and anti-inflammatories are the two most common prescription medications available for hip dysplasia.

  • NSAIDs – Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are commonly prescribed to reduce swelling and to relieve the stiff feeling from the joint. Carprofen, Deracoxib, and Meloxicam are three commonly prescribed anti-inflammatory medications.
  • Pain reliever – Aspirin, Gabapentin, and Tramadol are often prescribed if the NSAIDs did not relieve enough pain to allow your dog healthy mobility.

Both NSAIDs and pain relievers are powerful medicines that effectively target the irritation and discomfort of hip dysplasia—although not without side effects. Common side effects include skin irritation, diarrhea, vomiting, and behavioral changes.

Nutritional Needs for Joint Health

Malnutrition is a common source of many pet ailments. While any pet food you buy will “guarantee” total health for your pet on the packaging, owners need to dive into ingredients labels and research what food they’re providing their dogs to ensure proper nutrition.

The nutrients specific to joint health include:

  • Vitamin C
  • Glucosamine
  • Fish oil
  • Copper

Also, keeping your dog hydrated is important to keep joints lubricated and working optimally.

Supplement for Hip Dysplasia

Glucosamine is the term to know when it comes to joint health. Glucosamine is a natural anti-inflammatory, and it helps to restore disaffected joints by rebuilding cartilage. Cartilage acts as the pillow between bones to dampen the impact force as dogs go about their important daily activities—you know, like racing up the stairs or fetching frisbees.

Offering your dog glucosamine in the form of a supplement is a safe, gentle, and effective alternative to medicines that can have harsh side effects. PetHonesty offers joint supplements with glucosamine, hemp oil, and other natural anti-inflammatories to ease hip pain and rebuild healthy cartilage. Their glucosamine chews for dogs offer a natural hip dysplasia treatment for dogs.

Holistic Treatments For Hip Dysplasia

Many people peg the holistic medicine approach incorrectly. Its methodology is simple: how can you optimize the body (dog or person) so that it has everything it needs to perform optimally. Holistic medicine is not a one-to-one tradeoff with traditional healthcare techniques. Instead, it utilizes the idea that the body is full of complex organs that are fit to deal with all types of stressors, diseases, and physical ailments.

By providing the body with all the nutrients, physical exercise, and stress relievers it needs to work optimally, you’re offering a replacement to medicines with abrasive side effects. Holistic treatments include:

  • Weight management – Joints develop to hold as much weight as a healthy dog should be. If your dog is obese or overweight, that’s just extra force applied to the joints. Keeping your dog’s weight balanced can relieve stress and pain in their hips.
  • Exercises to rebuild strength in hips – Much like with humans, physical therapy helps to rebuild underutilized muscles, correct alignments, and to ensure the proper development of skeletal and muscular structures. Talk to your vet about stretches and exercises that can help with hip dysplasia.
  • Proper nutrition – As mentioned above, nutritious meals are a key ingredient to the holistic approach.

Surgery vs Non-Surgical Means

Next up is the S-word: Surgery. Knowing when surgery is the right call for your dog is difficult. If you’re considering it, here are the factors to keep in mind:

  • Risks associated – With any type of surgery, there are risks associated. Although mitigated to the highest degree possible, anesthesia reactions, infection, and surgical errors are all factors that must be taken into consideration.
  • Costs – It is an expensive option. Depending on how invasive the surgery is—from fusing the bones to a total hip replacement—the costs typically range from $1,700 to $4,500.
  • Temporary fix – Surgery for hip joints is known to be a temporary fix. While it could be what the dog needs to switch to a more holistic treatment plan, as far as “correcting” the bone, it can only shave down and smoothen it. This can offer your dog a reset, but without further treatment, the joint will degrade again.

This doesn’t mean surgery is never worth it. Far from that! In fact, surgery can offer dogs that are completely immobilized from severe hip dysplasia, dogs the chance to walk again. This quality of life improvement cannot be understated, and it should incite a discussion with you and your vet (and your dog).

Prevention of Hip Dysplasia

While knowing what the best hip dysplasia dogs treatment options are, it’s important for dog owners to also consider preventative methods to stop the advancement of the disease. There are two stages of your dog’s life where prevention techniques can do wonders:

  • Puppy Prevention – The reason large breed dogs commonly have problems with their hips is due to the rapid development of the joints during their puppy years. When young dogs are still growing into their body, over-exercising can cause early wear and tear on hip joints which inevitably lead to arthritis and dysplasia. 
  • Senior Prevention – As your dog ages, less lubricating fluid (technically known as synovial fluid) is produced, making it easier for joints to degrade. Once in their geriatric years, be sure to limit their strenuous activities and provide them with plenty of time to nap and recover. Their joints will thank you for it.

Supplements offered during these stages of life can assist with the proper care and development of the hip joints. PetHonesty offers different blends of joint-healthy ingredients designed with your dog’s age in mind.

Causes of Hip Dysplasia

There are several different factors that lead to hip dysplasia in dogs—some more preventable than others. In general, joint deterioration has to do with the development of the bones and the wear and tear once they’re developed. Common causes of hip dysplasia in dogs include:

  • Genetic factors
  • Too much exercise while developing
  • Too little daily exercise 
  • Malnutrition
  • Aging
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Trauma to the hip

Any one of these could be the deciding factor as to whether hip dysplasia develops. Even if you do everything in your power correctly, it could all come down to your canine friend’s genetic predisposition and breed.

Dog Breeds Likelier to Develop Hip Dysplasia

Mother Nature has presented the world with every different type of dog imaginable. Or so it seems. And through all that randomness, certain genetic predispositions have arisen. To know whether your dog is more likely to develop hip dysplasia, the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals amassed a database of different dog breeds and the likelihood of developing hip dysplasia.

From hip dysplasia in Golden Retrievers to hip problems in German Shepherds, many dogs are affected by hip-related issues, however, here are the dog breeds which develop hip dysplasia the most:

  • Bulldog – Of the 1,005 evaluations gathered, 71.2% are dysplastic
  • Pug – Of the 784 evaluations gathered, 71% are dysplastic
  • Old English Bulldog – Of the 114 evaluations gathered, 65.8% are dysplastic
  • French Mastiff – Of the 666 evaluations gathered, 58.1% are dysplastic
  • Neapolitan Mastiff – Of the 214 evaluations gathered, 51.4% are dysplastic
  • Brussels Griffon – Of the 122 evaluations gathered, 49.2% are dysplastic
  • St. Bernard – Of the 2,470 evaluations gathered, 49.1% are dysplastic
  • Otterhound – Of the 507 evaluations gathered, 48.5% are dysplastic
  • Clumber Spaniel – Of the 1,139 evaluations gathered, 43.7% are dysplastic
  • Black Russian Terrier – Of the 863 evaluations gathered, 41% are dysplastic

To find your particular dog breed’s dysplasia susceptibility, you can find more information here, with the OFA.

Dealing with Hip Dysplasia

While suffering from joint pain can dramatically impact a dog’s health, it doesn’t mean they have to live a life of immobility. Everything from surgical intervention to nutritional supplements is readily available to give your dog a second chance at a happy life. When determining the right course of treatment, consider a combination of the treatments above to personalize a plan for your dog.

And of course, never hesitate to talk to your local veterinarian about the best treatment options available for dogs with hip dysplasia.


Pets Web MD. Hip Dysplasia in Dogs.

ACVS. Canine Hip Dysplasia.

Pet MD. Hip Dysplasia Part 3.

OFA. Breed Statistics.