Posted by Pet Honesty on

What are Hip Problems in Dogs?

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If you’re a dog owner, it’s hard to imagine your steadfast companion entering old age. In your mind, they will always be that exuberant puppy, causing laughter, chaos, messes, and a whole lot of joy. Unfortunately, the sad truth is that there comes a time in every dog’s life where things gradually slow down and their body begins to decline.   

One particular problem that occurs in older dogs is hip problems, which, if left untreated, can have a severe impact on the trajectory of the rest of their life. The good news is, if you’re aware of the signs and act early, you can manage the issue before it gets out of hand. Something as simple as providing a dog hip supplement in your dog’s diet can make a world of a difference in his health. Therefore, if you want to ensure that your pup enters his later years in comfort and without debilitating joint pain, it’s essential that you take the time to read up on the subject. Below, we’ll discuss the signs and causes of hip problems in dogs, the breeds that are vulnerable, and how you can help your furry friend.

Read on to discover more! 

Signs of Hip Problems in Dogs

Some canines will manifest the signs of hip problems as puppies, while others may take years for symptoms to become evident. Regardless of when it occurs, there are several signs that you should be on the lookout for. Naturally, the visibility of the symptoms will depend upon several factors including:
  • Joint laxity
  • Inflammation levels 

That said, signs include the following:
  • Bunny hopping gait
  • Decreased activity
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Exhaustion
  • Hind end lameness 
  • Inability or difficulty to rise, run, jump, or go up or down
  • Joint laxity 
  • Joint popping or grating when moving
  • Loss of balance
  • Loss of muscle mass, particularly in the thigh
  • Narrowed stance
  • Pain
  • Stiffness
  • Swaying while walking

Hip Problems in Dog Breeds

If you plan on bringing a new pup into your life, you should be aware of the various health risks involved with that specific breed. Sadly, some canines are at a greater risk of developing hip problems than others, particularly large or giant breed dogs. According to Healthy Pets, the nine dog breeds most commonly diagnosed with hip problems are:

  1. German shepherds 
  2. Alaskan Malamutes
  3. Rottweilers
  4. Golden retrievers
  5. Saint Bernard
  6. Labrador retriever
  7. Newfoundland
  8. Chesapeake Bay retriever
  9. Samoyed

Preventative Measures to Combat Hip Problems

One of the primary burdens you agree to when you take on the mantle of dog ownership is the promise that you’ll do your best to not only provide for them but to also take preventative actions in order to ensure that they live long and healthy lives (the same you would for a child). 

There are four preventative measures you can take from the beginning to help strengthen their muscles, bones, and ligaments within the hip. They are:

Exercise – You can help avoid or at least mitigate early-onset hip problems by regularly exercising your dog while being mindful of avoiding over-exercising. Taking your pup on regular walks and having them run daily can help strengthen their muscles and fight degeneration. Ideally, you want to create a daily rhythm and pattern. 

In addition, if you notice the early signs of hip issues, you can take your pup to physical therapy. During this process, a trainer will work with your dog to strengthen, stretch, and massage problematic areas. 

  • Rest – On the flip side, it’s essential that you encourage your dog to sit, relax, and sleep. Doing so allows their joints and muscles to heal or recover from a long day of activity. Failure to do so can create or build inflammation that only gets worse as time goes on. 
  • Diet – Your dog’s weight can have severe impacts on the seriousness of their hip problems. If your pup is overweight, that can have deleterious effects on the hips, putting undue pressure and stress on both the hip joint and the muscles supporting it. This means you'll need to make some changes to your dog's diet. Steps you can take to prevent canine obesity include: 
    • Portion control
    • Avoiding free-feeding
    • Healthy snacks 

According to the American Kennel Club:

Keeping your dog’s skeletal system healthy should start when your dog is young. Feeding your puppy an appropriate diet, especially if you have a large breed puppy, will give her a head start on healthy bone and joint development and help prevent the excessive growth that leads to the disease. As your dog grows, providing her with appropriate levels of exercise and a healthy diet will prevent obesity, which is a major contributing factor to hip problems. Obesity also causes many other health problems in dogs, so hold off on the table scraps and other fatty foods.

  • Supplements – In addition, you can add supplements to your pup’s healthy meals or give them chews that provide them with all of the vitamins and nutrients they need for recovery and muscle growth. Commonly used supplements include: 
  • Glucosamine – To prevent address joint discomfort 
  • Chondroitin – To support bone strength .
  • Omega 3 – To promote brain and joint health.
  • MSM – To support joint health and a normal inflammatory response.

Taking Care of Your Pup

Sadly, hip problems are a common occurrence in dogs that can shorten their lives and make that time far less enjoyable. want your dog to stay at your side—happy and healthy for as long as possible, and that means working with your vet to ensure proper care!