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Hip dysplasia in dogs: all the facts about the condition

Hüftdysplasie ist eine häufige Gelenkerkrankung, von der unsere Hunde betroffen sind. Erfahre hier alle wichtigen Fakten zum Krankheitsbild.

This blog article is about a widespread joint disease that affects many dogs: hip dysplasia. This is a disease of the hip joint that can cause dogs considerable pain and problems. We will take a short excursion into the anatomy of the hip joint, look at the causes of hip dysplasia, identify the affected dog breeds, highlight the symptoms and consequences, explain the diagnosis and finally discuss physiotherapeutic treatment. At the end of the article you will also find a short summary of the most important points. Hip dysplasia dog

Anatomy of the hip joint in dogs Hip dysplasia dog

To understand hip dysplasia, it is important to know the anatomy of the hip joint. The dog’s hip joint consists of the hip socket and the femoral head. In healthy hip joints, the femoral head and the acetabulum fit together perfectly. Hip dysplasia dog

Hip dysplasia: the clinical picture

Hip dysplasia, also known as hip joint dysplasia (HD), is a degenerative disease of the hip joint in dogs. In dogs with hip dysplasia, this joint is not normally developed and does not function smoothly. For example, the femoral head may be too small or too large, the acetabulum too small or too large, or too flat. As a result, the femoral head and the joint socket do not fit together perfectly. This results in osteoarthritis, restricted movement and abnormal gait, as well as pain.

Causes of hip dysplasia Hip dysplasia dog

Genetics has a very large influence. The tendency to develop hip dysplasia is inherited. Some dog breeds are affected more frequently. If parent animals carry the disease, there is a higher risk that their offspring will also be affected.

  • Growth rate and nutrition: A growth rate that is too fast, especially in the puppy phase, can impair the development of the hip joint.
  • Incorrect nutrition and overfeeding play a role here. Dogs without a genetic predisposition can also develop HD if they are fed incorrectly. Hip dysplasia dog
  • Incorrect exercise: Too much, but also too little exercise can influence the severity of HD
  • Being overweight also has an effect on the severity of the dysplasia.

Commonly affected dog breeds

Although hip dysplasia can occur in dogs of any breed and mixed breeds, some breeds are particularly susceptible. It is often larger dog breeds that are affected. These include dog breeds such as German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Rottweilers and Bernese Mountain Dogs. It is important to note that small breeds can also be affected, but the risk tends to be higher in large breeds.

Symptoms of hip dysplasia

The symptoms of hip dysplasia can vary from dog to dog, but the most common signs are:

Rabbit hopping: When trotting or galloping, the affected dog hops with its hind legs like a rabbit.

LSÜ Twist: The dog shows a pronounced “hip swing”. One of the most common signs. Incidentally, this puts a lot of strain on the spine.

Abnormalities when sitting or lying down: Many affected dogs slide on their side with their bottom when sitting or lying down. The “frog posture” in the square is also an indication.

Other signs include lameness, difficulties with everyday movements such as lying down or standing up, and weak muscles in the hindquarters. Joint stiffness, limited mobility, sensitivity to touch, pain in the hip and lower back are also common symptoms.

A change in social behavior towards people and dogs is also not unusual.

If hip dysplasia is not treated, it can have serious consequences, including:

Osteoarthritis: The persistent “friction” in the hip joint leads to the development of osteoarthritis, which causes permanent damage.

Muscle atrophy: The muscles around the affected joint may atrophy as the dog puts less strain on them due to the pain.

Restriction in mobility and quality of life: Hip dysplasia can significantly impair the dog’s quality of life, as it can be less active and suffers pain.

Diagnosis of hip dysplasia in dogs

The diagnosis of hip dysplasia usually requires a thorough examination by a veterinarian. These include:

Clinical examination: The vet will examine the dog for symptoms such as lameness and pain.

X-rays: X-rays of the hip joint are crucial to assess the extent of changes in the joint. Please note: a correct hip x-ray by a qualified veterinarian is important for a meaningful diagnosis.

(Physiotherapeutic) treatment

Treatment for hip dysplasia can vary depending on the severity of the condition, but physiotherapy care plays a crucial role in improving the dog’s quality of life.

Depending on the severity of the HD, surgery may be unavoidable. The administration of pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory medication may also be necessary.

However, physiotherapeutic treatment is always important. Physiotherapeutic measures include, for example :

Active movement exercises: Special exercises can strengthen the muscles around the hip joint and improve mobility and movement sequences.

Massage: This relieves muscular tension as well as joint pain.

Heat and cold therapy: Heat can promote blood circulation and relieve pain, while cold therapy can reduce inflammation.

Passive movement: Passive movement by the therapist relieves pain and increases joint mobility.

Depending on the patient, laser therapy, ultrasound therapy, electrotherapy and underwater treadmill training can also be used.

Possible complementary therapeutic measures:

  • Gold acupuncture
  • Acupuncture
  • Leech therapy

Medicinal plants, dietary supplements and medicinal mushrooms can also provide important support to alleviate discomfort and nourish the joints.

Many measures can also be accompanied and supplemented by the patient owner at home. This includes active exercise training, for example, but also support through heat therapy, compresses and medicinal plants.


Hip dysplasia is a common disorder of the hip joint that can occur in dogs. It is often influenced by genetic predisposition, growth rate, diet and incorrect exercise. Certain dog breeds are more susceptible to this disease. The symptoms range from lameness to pain and restricted movement. Without appropriate treatment, hip dysplasia can lead to osteoarthritis and muscle atrophy, which can significantly impair the dog’s quality of life.

The diagnosis requires a thorough examination and x-rays. Physiotherapeutic treatment can improve the dog’s quality of life and offers a wide range of treatment measures that are individually tailored to the dog.

Early detection and appropriate treatment of hip dysplasia are crucial to relieve the dog’s pain and maintain its mobility. If you notice signs of hip dysplasia in your dog, don’t hesitate to visit a vet to have him examined accordingly. A correct diagnosis can only be made by means of a hip X-ray. A healthy lifestyle for your dog and the right care, which is in your hands, will help your dog to lead a life full of mobility and quality of life despite hip dysplasia.

Does your dog suffer from hip dysplasia? Then be sure to check out my HüftFIT online courses and learn how to keep your dog mobile despite HD. The GelenkAGIL course also teaches you how you can support your dog with natural measures, relieve pain and nourish joints.

All the love, your Tina

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