June 24th •
If you have a dog, there’s a good chance that you’ve heard of hip dysplasia. That’s because it’s one of the most common disorders in dogs, especially when they get older. Hip dysplasia causes pain and discomfort in the hip joint.
A normal hip joint will have a tight fit between the socket and the ball of the joint, but a dog with hip dysplasia will have a gap between the two, which causes the symptoms associated with hip dysplasia.
There is not one single cause of hip dysplasia, and it can be caused both by genetic or environmental conditions. This means that it can be genetic in your dog or it can be caused by actions that they do on a daily basis that cause the joint significant stress.
Hip dysplasia is more common in large breeds than small breeds. Dog owners with Golden Retrievers, Rottweilers, St. Bernard’s, and other large breeds of the sort see it commonly as their dogs start to age. To see some of these breeds (and more), check out our puppy finder. That’s not to say that it can’t also happen in smaller dogs, but it’s clear that it’s much less common.
It’s important to be able to diagnose hip dysplasia early, so that the symptoms, pain, and lasting effects can be mitigated as much as possible. There are many signs of hip dysplasia, and we’re going to walk you through them so that you will be able to identify them as soon as possible when your dog starts displaying the common symptoms.
In this way, you can ease the discomfort for your dog and perhaps prolong the amount of time that they will be able to deal with hip dysplasia as a minor affliction.
These 6 symptoms are what you should be looking for when diagnosing your dog with hip dysplasia. Though each of these symptoms themselves aren’t a guarantee that your dog has hip dysplasia, they can help to paint a picture of what is affecting your dog. If you notice one or many of these symptoms in your dog, it’s probably a good idea for you to consult a vet on treatment plans.
Hip dysplasia doesn’t necessarily have an effect on your dog’s energy level, but it will become clear in dogs that have hip dysplasia that they are suddenly less active and less willing to move around throughout the day. This is most likely because of the pain or discomfort that they are experiencing from the hip dysplasia.
If your dog is usually very excited about a walk but suddenly shows little interest, that could be a good sign that they are experiencing some sort of pain and that could be a result of hip dysplasia. If your dog is experiencing this symptom, it’s best to get them in the vet sooner rather than later. Many dog owners attribute decreased activity as a natural effect of aging and choose to do nothing about it. The truth is that it could be a sign that they are in a lot of pain or discomfort.
Inability to Climb Stairs or Jump up on Couches
If your dog suddenly stops doing all the active things that they like to do like jump up stairs or in the car, that could definitely be a sign that they are in pain and not feeling 100% healthy. The inflammation caused by hip dysplasia often means that they have a decreased range of motion and won’t be able to hop in the car or up stairs very comfortably.
They may seem just hesitant to do these things at first, but eventually refuse to do them altogether. This is a strong sign of something wrong in your dog and could most certainly be a symptom of hip dysplasia.
Difficulty Standing Up
As with other kinds of decreased activities, this is another sign that you dog isn’t willing or able to move the way that they used to. Dogs that are normally active will always be quick to rise when there’s something going on or someone coming into the house. Dogs that have hip dysplasia will seem like they don’t care, but in reality they aren’t rising as easily or quickly because they are experiencing discomfort or pain.
This is a common behavior that people see in dogs that are having pain in their rear legs, which is the part of their body that is affected by hip dysplasia. This is commonly referred to “Bunny Hopping”. When a dog is “bunny hopping” they are lifting their hind legs off of the ground and putting all of their weight on their front legs. This is to avoid having to put weight on the back legs, which can be painful for a dog with hip dysplasia.
While other signs can be a little more subtle, this is a glaring signal that your dog is experiencing hind leg pain and that they might have hip dysplasia.
In severe cases of hip dysplasia, there are some visible signs that can be alarming. The hip will look unnatural or in some cases, the joints look enlarged due to the inflammation of the joint. A vet will also be able to take an X-ray of a joint to tell if your dog has hip dysplasia. If you can see that your dog’s joint doesn’t look right, you’re going to want to get them into a vet immediately.
Dogs can sometimes also be seen favoring one leg or the other, which is another clear sign. If they are trying to keep weight off of certain legs that can definitely indicate that they have hip dysplasia-related pain and that you should get them checked out ASAP.
When dogs have hip dysplasia, they often also have sensitivity and pain in that region. Dogs can’t talk, but they are great communicators when it comes to their behavior. Most of the time you can tell when they are in pain. They will often let you know if their hip hurts by reacting when you touch the hip or around the joints that are ailing them.
If your dog is yelping, whining, or avoiding contact when you try to touch their hips, that’s a sign that they are having pain in that region.
Now that you know everything you need to know about hip dysplasia in dogs, you can make an educated decision on which breed of puppy you should get and what to look out for when it comes to hip dysplasia in various breeds. To find your next puppy, check out available puppies for sale!