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What Is Dog Hip Dysplasia? Causes, Symptoms And Diagnosis


Hip dysplasia is the abnormal joint structure and laxity of muscles, ligaments and connective tissues that support the joint. When joint laxity is faced, articular surfaces of two bones then lose contact with one another. And this separation of cones within the joint or subluxation causes great change in the overall shape and size of articular surfaces. Most dogs suffering from hip dysplasia are born with having normal hips however because of genetic makeup or other factors, soft tissues which surround the joint then develop in an abnormal way thus causing subluxation. It is thus the subluxation and hip remodelling that results in symptoms that we generally link with the disease.


Hip dysplasia indeed may or may not affect both the hips. Also, each case of this disease is different, as per the dog and its condition. It can start to develop in pups of just 4-5 months and may worsen when they grow old. In many a cases, the condition gets worse and noticeable when they reach the middle or late years of their life.

Which breeds Are Prone?

The condition affects larger breeds mainly like bulldogs, American Staffordshire terriers, mastiffs, St. Bernard, Rottweiler and golden retrievers. But it is always not always the case. Even the smaller dogs can get the problem like French bulldogs and pugs.


 It has been noted that environmental as well as genetic factors may be the cause behind getting this disease. Some major causes include pelvic muscle mass, rapid obesity, genetic susceptibility for laxity or hip displacement, nutritional factors etc.


Signs and Symptoms

hip_dysplasiaSymptoms for hip dysplasia depend as per the degree of laxity or joint looseness, degree of inflammation as well as duration of disease.

  • In case of early disease, the symptoms are linked with laxity
  • For later disease, the signs are associated with osteoarthritis and joint degeneration
  • Reduced activity and difficulty rising or walking
  • Hind limb pain and lameness
  • Narrow stance in hind limbs and the legs close together in an unnatural way
  • Laxity or joint looseness and hip joint pain
  • Reduced range of motion in hip joints and loss of muscle mass in the thigh muscles
  • Enlargement of the shoulder muscle, resulting in additional work for shoulder muscles


Diagnosis: How Is Hip Dysplasia Diagnosed?

Hip dysplasia is a condition that hurts or gives much pain to your canine friend. Thus an early evaluation for the disease will include physical examination, manual test and radiograph on the hips of the dog. You should take your dog to the vet immediately if you see any signs of the disease in your dog.

Your vet will also have to know the history of your dog so as to diagnose the condition in a better way. You should tell the doctor about your dog’s medical history, any problem if faced earlier, onset of the symptoms and possible accidents or injuries as all of such information may contribute in letting the vet diagnose the problem in a better way.

We will be covering treatment options for the condition in the next article. (find the article here)

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