Canine Hip Dysplasia Prognosis

Canine hip dysplasia is caused over time when an abnormality in the hip placement and fitting leads to progressive loss of cartilage and significant pain. Dogs generally inherit this disease by genetics and larger dogs are most often affected. Canine hip dysplasia is difficult to prevent and even more difficult to treat. The condition is the most common cause of arthritis in dogs.

Signs of Hip Dysplasia

While canine hip dysplasia can affect dogs of all breeds and sizes, it is most common among German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Retrievers, Mastiffs, Saint Bernards and Great Danes. Signs and symptoms will vary, but most dogs will experiences more than one of the following:

  • Decreased energy and movement
  • Prominent lameness, usually in the back legs
  • Odd gait
  • Reluctance to stand or walk
  • Behavioral symptoms such as whining, loss of appetite, urinary incontinence or aggressive behavior

Early Detection

Occasionally, canine hip dysplasia can be detected fairly early. Dogs that have more susceptibility to this condition can be tested, or may begin to show signs at a young age. In these cases, prognosis is fairly good due to common surgical methods employed to prevent long-term effects. One such surgery is called a triple pelvic ostectomy (TPO). This surgery is usually performed on dogs that are less than 10 months old with severe hip laxity. TPO tends to have a high rate of success, but keep in mind that this procedure is expensive, and all types of surgery have the possibility of leading to complications.

Prognosis of Dog Hip Dysplasia

The prognosis for canine hip dysplasia is largely dependent upon the progression of the disease. It is unclear which dogs will suffer from debilitating arthritis due to hip dysplasia, and which dogs will escape severe pain and complications. If surgery is not an option, management of the disease can help prolong quality of life, but will be unlikely to cure the condition. In order to give your dog the best possible chance of avoiding symptoms for as long as possible, there are a number of treatment options you may consider.

Treatment for Canine Hip Dysplasia

Treating hip dysplasia is most often done in the form of management. Surgical procedures such as TPO and total hip replacement can have good success rates, but may not always be the best option for you or your dog. There are many things you can do, some of them simultaneously, to minimize the impact of hip dysplasia:

  • Weight management - obesity puts a significant strain on hips that are already out of place due to this genetic condition. Keep your dog's weight within normal range by avoiding high-fat foods, overfeeding and unhealthy treats.
  • Dietary changes - in addition to help with overweight dogs, making healthy changes to the diet can also increase the immune system function, helping to curb inflammation and prolong the health of joints and cartilage.
  • Exercise - physical exercise is beneficial in many ways. Dogs with a predisposition to hip dysplasia should engage in regular physical exercise.
  • Supplements - introducing vitamins and supplements into the diet can make a significant impact. Glucosamine and chondroitin are commonly recommended for dogs with hip dysplasia.
  • Medication - conventional medication may minimize the pain associated with arthritis.