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Caring for a Dog With Hip Dysplasia

June 15, 2021

Did you know that as many as percent of dogs will get hip dysplasia at some point in their lives? While some breeds, such as German Shepherds, are more prone to it than others, any pooch can get hip dysplasia. A Hudson Valley, NY vet offers some advice on caring for Fido in this article.

Suitable Exercise

You don’t want to overexert a dog with hip dysplasia, but you shouldn’t let Fido become a complete couch potato, either. If your pet doesn’t get enough exercise, his muscles will start to atrophy, and he’ll get stiff and weak. Most dogs need at least a daily walk. Swimming is another good option, assuming your pet likes it. The water will support your dog’s weight, giving him a great no-impact workout. Don’t encourage your pet to jump or stand on his back legs: this will just aggravate his condition.


Supplements can definitely make a difference here. If your furry best bud has hip dysplasia, he may benefit from taking glucosamine, Omega 3 or 6 oils, and other nutrients. Ask your vet for recommendations.

Veterinary Care

Veterinary medicine has come a long way in recent years. There are now many options for helping Fido cope with his pain, including medicine and surgery. Alternative therapies, such as homeopathic medicine and even massage, can also be beneficial. Of course, no one method is going to be right for all of our canine buddies. Your vet will be able to discuss treatment options once your pooch has been thoroughly examined and diagnosed.

Starting Early

If your pet is a large dog, or is of a breed that is prone to this condition, keep a close eye out for early warning signs. Some common ones include limping, stiffness, and reduced interest in play. Call your vet as soon as you notice anything amiss. The sooner an issue is caught and treated, the better!


Making sure Fido has a good, comfy bed is also important. We recommend getting your pooch an orthopedic doggy bed. Keep in mind that dogs with hip dysplasia often get quite stiff and sore when it’s cold and/or wet. You may want to offer your four-legged friend a heated towel or rice sock to curl up with on chilly days.

Our Advice on Caring for a Dog With Hip Dysplasia in 2024

What percentage of dogs develop hip dysplasia, and which breeds are most at risk?

Hip dysplasia affects many dogs, with estimates suggesting that up to 20% may develop the condition during their lifetime. Breeds most at risk include larger and giant breeds, such as German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Great Danes. However, it’s not exclusive to these breeds; medium and even some smaller breeds can also be affected. Genetic predisposition is critical, making it especially prevalent in certain breed lines. Early screening and preventive measures are recommended for these high-risk breeds to manage or mitigate the impact of hip dysplasia.

What types of exercise are recommended for dogs with hip dysplasia?

For dogs with hip dysplasia, low-impact exercises are highly recommended to maintain muscle strength without aggravating the condition. Swimming is ideal because it allows dogs to move freely with minimal stress on their joints. Controlled, gentle walking on a leash is also beneficial, as it keeps the joints mobile without excessive strain. Avoid high-impact activities such as jumping or running on hard surfaces, as these can worsen hip dysplasia symptoms. Tailoring the exercise regimen to the dog’s specific condition and tolerance level, often with veterinary guidance, is crucial for their overall well-being.

How can swimming benefit a dog with hip dysplasia?

Swimming offers a highly beneficial form of exercise for dogs with hip dysplasia due to its low-impact nature. The buoyancy of water reduces stress on the hips, allowing dogs to move freely and strengthen their muscles without the pain or strain associated with weight-bearing exercises. This aquatic therapy can help maintain joint mobility, reduce stiffness, and improve overall range of motion. Additionally, swimming can enhance cardiovascular health and aid in weight management, which is crucial for reducing the burden on affected joints and slowing the progression of dysplasia symptoms.

What are the treatment options available for dogs with hip dysplasia?

Treatment options for dogs with hip dysplasia range from conservative management to surgical intervention. Conservative approaches include weight management to alleviate joint stress, physical therapy, and anti-inflammatory medications to manage pain and inflammation. Supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin may also support joint health. For more severe cases, surgical options such as total hip replacement or femoral head ostectomy offer long-term solutions. Alternative therapies, like acupuncture and hydrotherapy, can complement these treatments by enhancing mobility and reducing discomfort. The choice of treatment depends on the dog’s age, severity of dysplasia, and overall health, tailored to provide the best quality of life.

What are the early warning signs of hip dysplasia in dogs?

Early warning signs of hip dysplasia in dogs include difficulty standing up or lying down, reluctance to jump, climb stairs, or engage in regular play, a noticeable limp or lameness in the hind legs, and a “bunny-hopping” gait. Dogs may also show signs of pain or discomfort when their hips are touched or moved, exhibit a decreased range of motion, or have muscle mass loss in the hind legs. Observing these signs warrants a veterinary evaluation to assess for hip dysplasia.

As your Hudson Valley, NY veterinary clinic, we’re always happy to help. Contact us anytime!